I have been applying for a PhD in the last three years to more than 150 positions, very much specific to my skills and background. I only applied when I found positions' requirements matching my skills and experience.
I got the same response for all those positions. I almost gave up and went offline. After few months, I noticed a couple of emails from a professor, who liked my profile very much and was very interested in contacting me. I responded and got interviewed. However, he didn't find me suitable for position and advertised again for the very same position.
After a couple of months I applied to another project/position of the same Research Centre, thinking I may have chance in this group, but as usual they rejected but they said I came second.
After a couple of months, they said they are advertising again and I should apply since I was in top three. However, as usual, they got better candidate this time as well.
In a nutshell, I have been rejected for more than 150 positions and only one group who found me very suitable candidate rejected three times. While I cannot describe how I am feeling I also don't know whether to take it as positive that they interviewed me three times or that even they didn't find me suitable for something which I was very much capable of.
My question Is if it's all normal, or should I give up on looking for PhD positions.
With every day I am not getting any younger and my chances are decreasing. It has been around 3.5 years since I have done my master's. With every rejection, I have been trying to rectify errors and mistakes and improvements but all in vain so far.
Thanks in advance.