How can I rebuild my confidence amid work rejections?

I have been working in the same industry – retail – for 22 years and was made redundant 10 months ago. I’ve been looking for other roles while looking after my partner who is shielding, but my confidence is at a real low. How can I rebuild my confidence when I am constantly getting rejections and not even getting shortlisted?

Serious older man sitting staring into the distance


It’s easy to lose confidence when all you hear is the word ‘no’. In fact, I suspect that you probably hear nothing at all with many applications, which is sometimes even more dispiriting.

Rather than banging your head against a brick wall, press the ‘reset’ button with a three-stage review.

Review your CV and LinkedIn Profile

First, look at what you are telling people. Sit down with a supportive friend to review your CV, LinkedIn profile and plan what you will say when someone asks you ‘what are you looking for?’. Find someone who can remind you what you’re good at – and reveal how your skills and know-how might be useful in other sectors.

Review your job search strategy

Next, review your job search strategy. Online job hunting can reveal employers who are hiring, but offers a poor return on your time and energy. Add other ingredients to the mix – approach relevant employment agencies, email employers directly with a brief summary of your experience and build on word of mouth connections by talking to people doing interesting jobs.

Rebuild your confidence

The final step is to rebuild confidence. Back to your supportive friends…. Find a way of talking about your skills and achievements which feels authentic. Practise talking about times you have made a difference, added something new or worked beyond your job description. Rehearse answers to tough or probing questions so you know how to give short, upbeat answers which offer clear evidence of how you can do the jobs you are targeting.

*John Lees is one of the UK’s best-known career strategists and author of 15 books on work and careers. How to Get a Job You Love (now in its eleventh edition) regularly tops the list of best-selling careers books by a British author and was twice selected as the WH Smith Business Book of the Month. More information:

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