Learning to live with rejection

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'SO far I've had 75 rejection letters, but I've never been told it's because I'm too old,' Neil Kennedy admits after spending the day at a job club in Middlesex, writes Rachel Borrill.

Last year Mr Kennedy, 55, was working as a site manager at Canary Wharf, east London. But in June, as the development began to fail, he was one of 26 people in his department made redundant.

Since then Mr Kennedy has been forced to use his savings to support his wife and pay the mortgage. The only state support he is entitled to is pounds 43 unemployment benefit. 'As I am an older person, with some savings, I am not able to claim income support until I've spent most of my money,' he said.

To save, the couple spend longer in the supermarket looking for bargains. 'We shop very carefully,' Mr Kennedy said.

Initially he only applied for jobs in the construction industry. 'I've been in it since I left school at 17, and I thought that experience would help.'

Although most of the jobs did not specify an age limit, he felt the requirements were often 'very tight'. 'If you were on the fringe of the criteria you would not get an interview,' he said.

After several rejections, Mr Kennedy realised he should 'go for anything'. He applies for several jobs a week and has started to write to large companies at random. 'You're lucky if you get to the interview stage so it is a matter of applying to a business that might be on the upturn.'

Mr Kennedy admits he finds the continuous rejections depressing. Most do not give a reason, which he finds annoying.

However, he does remain optimistic and is confident the recession will end and that he will work again. 'The pendulum must swing back. If it doesn't then we will all be in a sorry state,' he said.