If you’ve sent off a bunch of applications over the last couple of months, give yourself a pat on the back. If you’re about to start applying (we’re looking at you, barristers), good luck!
As you wait to hear the outcome of any application, it’s common to feel scared that lots of rejections are coming your way.
This blog’s all about dealing with rejection and turning it into something positive, so read on.
To put it bluntly….
Law firms receive anything from a few hundred to a few thousand applications each year for training contracts and vacation schemes.
Some firms will see you as a good match for them, whereas others won’t, which means that you’ll most likely have a few ‘nos’ coming your way. And that’s why you need to get comfortable with the idea of rejection.
Here are some tips to help you cope with vacation scheme rejection and pick yourself back up again.
It’s not personal
As mentioned, all law firms (big and small) get inundated with applications. Whether you’re rejected at application or interview stage, the chances are it’s not because you did anything wrong.
What’s more likely is that there was someone more suited to the role than you. This could be because they had some previous legal experience, or just because they performed particularly well at an assessment centre.
Sometimes it’s just sheer luck, and had you applied in a different year you might have been successful.
The moral of the story is that there are so many different reasons why you might have been rejected, lots of which you can’t control. So don’t take it personally.
Ask for feedback
This is hands down the best way to make your application form or interview technique better going forward.
It’s rare for law firms to give feedback on application forms (because of the volume, as mentioned above), but most will give you feedback after an interview or assessment centre.
Graduate recruitment teams will usually ask everyone involved in the process, from the partner who interviewed you, to the trainee who showed you around at lunchtime, for their comments and observations.
Study the feedback; is there something you can work on? If you have feedback from multiple firms, try and find a common theme. Take time to reflect and work on any pain points. Then use everything you’ve learnt in your next interview.
Bear in mind that current trainees at top law firms only got to where they are now through feedback they got after failed applications and interviews. Don’t forget that.
Take a breather
If the timescale allows, take a break. Instead of jumping straight back into applications whilst you’re still feeling angry, upset or dejected, take some time out.
It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself but don’t let it go on for too long!
Give yourself a day’s break. Put away your laptop and do something nice, like go for a coffee, a walk, or meet up with a friend.
Start afresh the next day; you’ll find that you approach the task in hand with a much more positive mindset.
Lean on friends and family
Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Speak to friends and family about how you’re feeling. It’s not silly to feel upset about rejection; after all, this is your future career! And a problem shared is a problem halved as they say.
Go one step further and get your network involved in the process – ask them to look over your applications or ask them to do interview practice with you. It’ll make the experience less lonely, and you might get some useful feedback along the way.
Are there any other practical steps you could take to bolster your application?
If you’ve been applying for vacation schemes, training contracts or pupillages for a while but haven’t been successful yet, it might be worth looking at becoming a paralegal, or taking up another administrative role at a law firm.
Working at a law firm in any capacity can be a great way to drum up your experience, not to mention your confidence. You’ll get valuable work experience whilst learning about how a law firm works.
Another plus point is that you can get to know the culture of a firm.
If getting another job isn’t an option for you, you could look into volunteering at your local legal centre or Citizens Advice Bureau.
Work experience, paid or voluntary, looks good on your CV, and demonstrates your commitment to the legal industry.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share for dealing with rejection? Get in touch.