The job hunt is serious business. It’s competitive, often stressful and frequently discouraging. Although rejection can be difficult to take, it doesn’t mean that you should halt your job search or become demoralized. Rejection is common and there are resources you can access to help you take the next step towards getting hired.
Courtney Quinn, senior director, consumer marketing at CompTIA, works with people who are currently employed but looking for “…more dynamic, stable opportunities to grow and advance their careers, but don’t know what they want to do next.”
A career in the technology industry can provide the stability and stimulation they seek, but many face a daunting confidence gap that results in questioning if they have what it takes to work in this booming industry. With already shaky confidence, those facing minor rejections may find themselves dissuaded from a substantial career in tech.
Throughout her work with those evaluating career changes, Quinn has found that job seekers blame themselves for rejection when part of the issue lies with employers who over spec job requirements.
Too many “entry-level jobs” imply that no experience is required but often list job requirements that suggest advanced experience. This can cause career changers to feel discouraged by job prospects, or worse, rejected from jobs that they hope to get. Even though Quinn believes that rejection is an unavoidable part of the job search process for many, she has seen people overcome the sting of rejection and go on to begin rewarding careers in tech.
In fact, the average unemployment rate in technology is far lower than in other fields. This number has hovered around the 2% mark (1.8% in 2023). There likely is a place for you—and once you overcome the hurdle of entry into a tech career, it’s unlikely you’ll be faced with unemployment in the future.
Whether you are dealing with written or verbal rejection, or even just ghosting, here are some tips and strategies Quinn offers for managing rejection in the tech industry.
Create Your Job Search Plan
Quinn believes that a strong start to your job search can help build your confidence. She suggests taking a holistic approach that involves career changers recognizing their transferrable skills, claiming their goals, and identifying the key skills they need to learn and, eventually, apply to their resume.
- Take the time to create a plan based on these steps: Know Your Goals. Identify what your needs are in terms of a job:
- What are your salary requirements? CompTIA’s IT Salary Calculator can help you determine which jobs will fit your salary needs.
- Which jobs fit your skill set, and which would not be feasible?
- Which area of focus is the best fit for you? The CompTIA IT Careers Path Roadmap can help you identify what to expect from different IT jobs.
- Do Your Research. Really drill down into the job role you’re seeking and understand the skills that are necessary for qualifying for that role. Most importantly, focus your search on your own backyard. Free resources like CyberSeek and the CompTIA State of the Tech Workforce can help you identify which skills are required for certain jobs and which jobs are open in your region.
- Adjust Your Resume. Review your resume and make edits to your skills based on what your research has revealed. Ensure you are using the language supplied by your research tools so that your resume isn’t blocked by the screening process which is often done by AI algorithms searching for specific terms.
- Identify Which Job Roles Fit Your Criteria. Now it’s time to identify the roles that suit your job search plan and apply. Sites like Zip Recruiter are great for identifying and applying to your ideal role.
Develop Your Professional Skills
There are other strategies you might investigate to make sure you have taken the right steps.
“A lot of people who are changing careers are trying to get to a certain level, they’re trying to leapfrog, and pass oversteps they need to take to get there quickly,” Quinn said. “We understand the urgency of your goals and believe me when I say you can trust our process.”
This might involve leveraging some assets that could help you develop your professional skills rather than your technical ones.
Here are some alternative options:
- IT Certifications. Getting an IT certification is one of the most important thing you can do to break into a tech career. It demonstrates the necessary skills that employers are seeking and validates your ability to meet industry-specific objectives. If you’re waiting for responses and you already are certified, you can always seek out other certifications if you have downtime. Additional skills can only help to fill any gaps that you might have, making you more marketable.
- Career Coaching and Webinars. Often, a career coach can help you identify specific, actionable ways to make career progress. If that’s not in your budget, seek out free webinars to brush up on your professional skills.
- Mock Interviews. Find others in your field and see if anyone is willing to engage in mock interviews to help you refine your interview responses. Review these interviewing best practices in advance and practice your responses.
- TryHackMe. Platforms like TryHackMe are great for helping pros brush up on their skills to keep sharp through gamification.
Manage the Emotional Impact of Rejection
Unfortunately, rejection can take an emotional toll. Quinn often helps career changers recognize difficult emotions, while also encouraging them to continue moving in a positive direction.
“Be kind to yourself,” Quinn suggests. “This type of disappointment in the job search process is usually very surprising, completely inconvenient and you already have a lot going on. Discouragement is likely, and introspection is good, but give yourself space to process what happened and then move on to a more actionable agenda.”
It’s important to remember that while rejection is difficult, it can be overcome. Develop a plan and keep moving forward. Any addition of skills development or professional improvements will always benefit you, no matter where you land.
Leverage Your Network
Finally, you want to connect with peers and other tech pros to help build your network. Whether you know it or not, many others in the tech community have also struggled with rejection. It can be very helpful to connect with those pros, hear their stories, heed their advice and possibly get some tips or leads.
“Connect with somebody,” Quinn said. “Connect with CompTIA. You’ll find a community of people who have been in a very similar situation, who have gotten numerous job rejections and failed exams. But these are people who continue encouraging each other and they figure out how to help each other win.” Sometimes, the support of others and knowing that you aren’t the only one facing rejection is enough to power through it.
Here are some places you can connect with others.
- Reddit. The CompTIA Reddit feed has a huge and growing community of IT pros who have stories of rejection and can help to offer guidance or tips for your job search.
- LinkedIn. Connect with other IT pros and follow thought leaders to better understand what leadership is looking for in different positions. You can start by connecting with Quinn directly on LinkedIn or find resources on CompTIA’s LinkedIn page.
- Instagram. Celebrate the successes of other job seekers by following @CompTIA on Instagram.
A solid plan and a welcoming community can be the difference between a thriving career in tech and letting rejection deter you from a successful career.
Are You Ready for a Career Change?
Visit CompTIA’s Career Change hub to get started!