‘Use it to your advantage’: How to handle and learn from job rejections

‘Use it to your advantage’: How to handle and learn from job rejections

18 October 2021 By Naomi Neilson
How to handle and learn from job rejections

Received a rejection or, worse, no response at all to a job application? While a very disheartening experience, one lawyer shared that there’s a wealth of opportunities to be found in job rejections that can lead new legal professionals to their dream roles.

Legal counsel Maiko Sentina said she wasn’t exaggerating when she shared that it took about 80 to 100 applications between her last year of university and for some time after graduation to land a role that kickstarted her career. Although each of the rejections was hard to take, they all came with new career-defining opportunities.

“It was really important for me to be surrounded by creativity and practise in an area that allowed me to thrive in a creative environment. It’s very hard to do when you’re a law student, to think as you’re going through your law degree, ‘how do I make that happen?’. For me, the biggest challenge was actually landing a role that allowed me to do that. It took me about 18 months to land my first job,” Ms Sentina said.

“The biggest challenge for me was [also] to just keep resilience in a time where it feels like it’s just never-ending application after application and you don’t hear back.”

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For new lawyers currently going through the process of sending out job applications, Ms Sentina said it is best to detach from it personally and consider it a job hunting task. When she was applying, Ms Sentina said she had checklists that she ticked off as she went and, even if there was no response at all to them, made sure it didn’t get her down because “you’ve got to protect yourself in the process as well”.

“Keep a resilient mind and be positive in spite of what may be challenging in terms of getting the feedback that you want. I think that really helped me a lot to really treat it as ‘this is my job hunting, this is work’ and to keep that objective from just taking it personally when you get a rejection,” Ms Sentina explained.

Ms Sentina – who shared this and more advice on an episode of The Protégé Podcast – said she also treated every rejection as an opportunity to go back and reflect on what she submitted. This was a time to tweak her resume or cover letter and, when there was a chance to do so, to ask for feedback from hiring managers.

This is the same advice she offers for the law students and graduates she currently mentors when it comes the time for them to apply for clerkships, paralegal roles, or graduate programs. The biggest advice Ms Sentina has for them, she shared in the episode, is to use rejections as an opportunity to strengthen themselves.

There’s also the opportunity to “think outside of the box” by considering other roles that could act as “stepping stones” into their dream roles. Using these alternative pathways could seem like a long way around, but the truth is that lawyers who do, have the opportunity to build further skills and prove themselves in a workplace.

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“There was sort of a point where I thought, should I just give up? Should I just start looking at re-enrolling in another course? And yes, stop this job hunt that seemed quite elusive. If I were to give advice to my younger self, and this is all with the benefit of hindsight at this point, it’s to just keep at it,” Ms Sentina said.

“It’s about sticking to your guns, sticking to what it is that you are passionate about, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there because when you do put yourself out there in a genuine way, you attract the right kinds of people. It will pay off.”

For more advice on handling rejection, listen to the episode here! Maiko also has some fantastic advice on building a resume and looking past the polished LinkedIn profiles.

If you have any questions about the episode or if there are any topics that you might want us to look into, please reach out – we would love to hear from you!

We’re also always open to new guests, so if you have an exciting story to tell, if you’re standing out as a student or graduate, or if you can offer some tips for our young lawyers, get in touch.

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‘Use it to your advantage’: How to handle and learn from job rejections
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