Handling Rejection

The end of February through March is often a high-stress period. Midterms and anxiety about the job search is a rough combination that can leave you feeling dejected and scared. Last year, Brad generated a post based on the lovely Guerrilla Tactics handbook that I have adapted slightly to generate some words of wisdom that will (hopefully!) help you feel more at ease.

Everyone gets rejected. Period. It is a fact of life. Rejection is not a failure and should not be treated as such. It is a vital part of the career search process. Whether you will be successful is not dependent on whether you get rejected, but on how you handle it.  Here are a few pointers on how to deal with rejection and make it into something that will push you forward to success.

1)      Don’t make a rejection worse than it actually is.  Try not to assume that because you were rejected the employer did not like you or did not think you were qualified. Law is competitive, and most employers will say that when making a hiring decision it oftentimes comes between hiring equally well-qualified and pleasant individuals. Know that when you are rejected, it is because for some reason, at that moment in time, the employer found another candidate better met their hiring needs. That is it.

2)      So, they said, “no”.  Does that mean no forever?  No.  Getting a rejection does not mean you will never get a job with that employer…just not that particular job at that particular time. Here are some things you can do to turn a rejection into more opportunities:

  1. Follow up with employers who have rejected you for a position, be graceful and thankful, and let them know that if their needs change, you hope they will reconsider you. That is all it takes to keep a foot in the door with the employer.
  2. If you feel like you made a good personal connection with one of your interviewers, reconnect! The reality is that if you did make a good connection, they were rooting for you too. Tell them that you appreciated their help and would like to speak with them further about their job, what else you could be doing, etc. Keep these connections alive.
  3. If the employer asks you to keep in touch or to contact them again next year, do it!  Take the employer at their word and if they ask you to keep in touch, do it.  Do not email every week, but whenever you have a change in status (new semester, new internship, etc) send an email and keep in touch.

3)      When you get a rejection, try not to give it more meaning than it deserves.  Employers do not know everything about you; they only know what they paid attention to out of the information that you actually conveyed.  When you are rejected, try not to interpret it as being a value judgment on you, your abilities as a future lawyer, or your ability to succeed.

4)      Do not look for validation from employers.  You know who you are, what you can do, and what you can achieve.  Find validation within yourself and you will project more confidence to employers.

5)      Not getting a job through OCI is not unusual.  OCI represents only a very small fraction of what jobs are available.  Employers generally only participate in OCI when they are large and institutional enough to know how many people they are going to need in advance. This is NOT the case for most employers. The fact is that the job you’ll love is unlikely to come to school to find you…you need to find it!

No one likes rejection.  We want others to always recognize and reward what we have to offer.  Applications, cover letters, resumes all take time and effort, and it is annoying when it does not pay off.  But, as I hope I have conveyed, just as achieving good grades takes time, effort, and trial and error, so does a job search. These are skills that are honed over time. Not every opportunity becomes a job, but every rejection is an opportunity; an opportunity to learn, develop grit, and move forward onto success.

This post is adapted from Guerilla Tactics For Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Alayne Walton.  This book is an EXCELLENT resource for all stages of the law career search.  If you liked this post and are interested in the book, email wilenskym@umkc.edu to discuss.

Finding Positions Outside KCMO/KCK/the Midwest

With the job search season upon us, it seems pertinent to address the concerns of those of you who don’t want to stay in the area. Therefore, this week we are re-sharing some tips and tricks Brad Dixon identified last year, as adapted from Guerrilla Tactics For Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Alayne Walton.

If you are interested in practicing outside of the Kansas City metro area and/or the Midwest, there are some things you can do to proactively position yourself for success in your new location.

1) Contacts at your Destination. Do some research and find alums from UMKC Law (and your undergrad institution) that are located in the city or area in which you would like to practice. Any job search begins with getting the best information possible.  The successes and mistakes of alums who have trudged the path ahead of you are valuable learning tools.  Having UMKC Law as a connection will give you a good starting point for outreach and discussion.

  • How do you find these alums?
    • Research on LinkedIn. UMKC Law has its own LinkedIn page with thousands of alumni already connected.
    • Talk to the Career Center. We have connections to alumni across the country and are happy to help make connections.
    • Talk to professors who may have gone to school or have connections in your desired location
  • What do you do next? Contact them just like you would for any other informational interview. Send an e-mail introducing yourself and ask for a time to speak over the phone or, if you will be in the area, see if they have time for coffee.  Check out our Informational Interviewing resource on Symplicity for ideas on questions and outreach.

2) You may not be a known quantity. Target employers who have hired UMKC Law students or grads from an institution similar to ours. One of the issues students face in a new place is that employers in other regions may not be familiar with UMKC Law, so if you can find an employer who either (1) has previously hired an alum or (2) has hired from a similar law school, the chances are better that the employer may be more receptive to considering you. Talk about how UMKC Law is similar to schools that are known in the region and argue by analogy.

3) Go to your target city! Nothing shows a potential employer that you are serious like being in your target city.  Whether it is over Spring Break or a long weekend, schedule meetings with potential employers and utilize your time to the fullest.  If you are a 1L or 2L, we strongly encourage you to look for summer employment in your target city.  This is the best way to form connections to your destination while still going to school in Kansas City.

4) Resume and Cover Letters. You must show your connection to the destination city in both your cover letter and resume.  For the resume, join the state bar association, consider getting a “local” cell number, and consider putting a section on your resume that explains your connection to the place if it is not obvious.  You must also include in your cover letter a definite statement that you are relocating to your desired location after graduation and your connections to the place.  DO NOT lie about your connections with a place.  You must be honest in everything your present to a potential employer, including information as benign as a connection to your destination.

5) Reciprocity. The Career Center has the ability to request reciprocity from other law schools, which will give you access to the other institution’s career services office (usually including that law school’s job board).  There is no guarantee our reciprocity request will be granted, but if you are interested in reciprocity with another law school, come talk to a member of the Career Center and we can explain how the process works.

If you liked this post and are interested in the book, email wilenskym@umkc.edu to discuss.

Phenomenal Podcasts

I’ve got some sweet law-related podcasts to share! Brad, the former full-time Assistant Director, wrote an awesome blog post last year about his favorite podcasts. Below are the links he has previously shared, as well as two new podcasts you might want to check out!

Molly’s Finds

Brad’s Favorites

Discovering More About Law School, Practice Areas, Etc..

I Am The Law: A show that profiles legal professionals in a variety of jobs and practice areas.

Law School Podcaster: Your Guide to Law School: information, insight and advice for law school applicants and students to prepare for the competitive world of law school and beyond.


Lawyer 2 Lawyer: A podcast covering relevant, contemporary news from a legal perspective.  The hosts invite industry professionals to examine current events and recent rulings in discussions that raise contemplative questions for those involved in the legal industry.

Amicus: Slate’s Supreme Court podcast about the Court, the law, and legal practitioners.

A Little Bit of Everything

Legal Geekery: This show covers a bit of everything….legal news, hot issues, and randomness.

ABA Journal Podcasts: The ABA Journal covers a bit of everything, such as courts and the press, how to network without feeling slimy, legal neologisms with Bryan Garner, and career and practice changes.

If you have any podcast recommendations, send them our way!

Researching the Firm/Organization & Interviewers

While your ability to articulate your skills and experience helps make you more marketable in an interview, knowing your interviewers (and the firm!) is another way to help set you apart from your peers. Since it is the eighth day of the month, here are eight key resources to investigate as you do your due diligence to prepare.

  • Find the interviewer(s) names. Go to your OCI tab in Symplicity and choose the appropriate OCI session from the drop-down menu. Click the “Review” button next to the firm/organization name. Underneath the OCI schedule header, the interviewer names are listed as soon as they become available.
  • Search the interviewer(s)’ on the firm website. Some aspects to focus on: what law school they graduated from, what practice areas they specialize in, what committees they sit on, and how long they’ve been at the firm.
  • Use LinkedIn! LinkedIn is a great tool to gather more intelligence on day-today or major responsibilities. Additionally, it can often provide insight into the interviewer’s work history. Be sure to log out before searching for an attorney – otherwise, they will see that you are looking at them!
  • Use the UMKC Business Intelligence Center: Lexis Advance Training guide. This guide is located in your “Resources” tab on Symplicity. In addition to finding more information about attorneys, there are directions that assist in finding recent cases the firm or interviewing attorney has been involved in.
  • Check out the Kansas City Business Journal. The KC Business Journal offers access to a comprehensive coverage of business news in Kansas City. This is particularly important because you don’t want to miss an obvious reference to the firm or interviewer in recent news.
  • Investigate WestLaw, Bloomberg, and Thomson Reuters products. Michael Robak in the Law Library can assist you in using these products on the Career Center Business Intelligence Center computer.
  • Connect with other students. Oftentimes, your fellow peers can shed valuable insight into an interviewer or a firm!





We hosted an interviewing workshop yesterday that focused on the four types of interviews, techniques for preparing for behavioral interview questions, interview prep/general interview advice, and post-interview etiquette.

If you were unable to make it, the presentation slides and recording of the workshop are available in your “Resources” tab on Symplicity. Additionally, you can access the recording of the presentation via this link: http://mediasite.law.umkc.edu/Mediasite/Play/a7e56d3d4cca406da81f3eb296f317931d

The five articles below, from The Muse, are great supplements to the information shared above:

5 Words You Should Never Use to Describe Yourself in an Interview: https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-words-you-should-never-use-to-describe-yourself-in-an-interview

How to Convince an Employer to Take a Chance on You (and Ignore the More Qualified Candidates): https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-convince-an-employer-to-take-a-chance-on-you-and-ignore-the-more-qualified-candidates-1

4 Moves You Didn’t Realize Make You Look Unprofessional in an Interview: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-moves-you-didnt-realize-make-you-look-unprofessional-in-an-interview

5 Survival Tricks Every Introvert Needs to Know Before Going on an Interview: https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-survival-tricks-every-introvert-needs-to-know-before-going-on-an-interview

8 Rules You Should Memorize Before You Go on Any Interview That Involves Food: https://www.themuse.com/advice/8-rules-you-should-memorize-before-you-go-on-any-interview-that-involves-food

The interview process is dynamic and unique dependent on the employer and interviewers. While the above articles identify helpful tips and tricks, the two foundational steps in preparing for the interview process are: 1) being able to articulate your skills and your experiences, and 2) having the confidence to be your own best advocate.

For more personalized interviewing tips and tricks, please contact a Career Center representative at umkclawcareer@umkc.edu.