“Thank you so much for your interest in [insert dream job title here] We were impressed by your skills and qualifications but another applicant has been selected for the position.”
Whether you hear it over the phone or read it in an email, it’s the same feeling every single time: the follow-up to what you thought was a great interview (or series of interviews) for the job of your dreams only to hit the snag of not getting hired for the position. As the news sinks in, the heart deflates a little bit, like a balloon losing its air.
Outwardly, you have to maintain your composure and politely thank the person who delivered the news for getting back in touch with you and encouraging them to keep you on file for future job openings.
In your head, it’s a completely different story. Everything gets questioned because you just don’t see how someone else could have been a better fit for the role. “That job was made for me! I had so many ideas and initiatives I wanted to test out! How could they not see it in me and want to hire me for their team?” You wonder who got the job and secretly can’t wait to stalk their LinkedIn profile so you can point out to all of your friends that the person who did get hired is not nearly as incredible as you are. Beneath the questioning though is a layer of sadness. Sadness you can’t shake off because so much time and energy was invested in applying for that job and going on interviews. One step closer, only to be set back two more steps. Being told “no” for the job of your dreams cuts deep. People will tell you to grow a thicker skin and not let that rejection settle in, but even the thickest skin needs to shed itself sometime.
I’ve been there before. I’m basically there right now and no doubt I’ll be there again. And while I don’t like that place, I know what needs to be done next after hearing (because I need to tell myself this) that you didn’t get that dream job.
Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not Blame Yourself
This is not about you on a personal level. Taking a moment longer than usual to think out your response during the interview or that moment when you sneezed in front of everyone didn’t derail your hiring chances! It definitely won’t look like it at the time, but sometimes not getting the job can actually be a blessing in disguise. Think carefully about the position you applied for. Was there anything in the job listing that made you go, “ummm I don’t know about this…” inside? Like a longer commute than usual or the setting being more conservative than you’re used to? It’s easy to shake off some of these potential worries early on, but upon being hired and adapting to the new work environment, what started off as small irks can grow to become things you complain about on a daily basis. And the last thing you want is to whine constantly about what was supposed to make you the happiest.
Keep Pursuing Your Passions Elsewhere
My favourite piece of career advice is from Stephen Pollan, an 83-year-old life coach and lawyer. Pollan says to see your job as a means for money only and to keep your eyes on the bigger picture. “You should focus on a career only as a stream of income. Anyone looking for career fulfilment is going to be frustrated because employers are not out there to make us happy. Look for fulfilment through your romantic life, through travel, through personal relationships, not on the job. It ain’t there.”
Even if you have an incredible boss who really does want to see you shine in your position, that boss probably has 25+ other people to worry about in addition to you. Ask yourself what (or who) it is you love and pursue that path to the fullest. Sometimes when I feel down in the dumps I stop writing for a bit because it’s hard for the words to come out. I try to avoid hitting the dumps as much as I can because I can’t stand that feeling – writing is really, REALLY, frustrating but without engaging in the act I feel worse off (cue, the reason for my long blog) I’m just not me. Even if I am writing rubbish, I need to keep writing.
Find the things you feel worse off without and keep up with them as much as you can. They’re what give your life the meaning it needs. A job alone won’t do that.
Nothing is Permanent
One of the biggest mistakes I made as soon as I left university was thinking that my first job had to be the perfect job. Because I thought that my experience interning and writing should have just landed me in the perfect place. According to a study by Millennial Branding, the average 18- to 29-year-old spends just over two years at their first jobs, switching multiple times throughout their career.
So if you didn’t get this one, it really is no big deal. Statistically speaking, it probably wasn’t your dream job after all. There’s something to be learned from any and every job, even if it’s not what you envision yourself doing for the long haul. Remember: A job is not a life sentence. Soak up all you can and make the best of it, and then be ready to move on when something better comes along.
Don’t Kick It Completely Off the Shelf
You know what’s cool about the hiring process? Just because someone got the job of your dreams doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the right person for it for the rest of their lives. That position might open right back up in six months’ time again. If that happens, take it as your cue to reconnect with the person who interviewed you with an email or a message on LinkedIn to let them know you’re still interested. Much as you might have thought you were an unforgettable interview, they might have forgotten about your resume, but will be happy to hear you’re reaching out for the job again. As an added bonus, during the time that passed you’ll probably have acquired more skills to add to your resume and have fresh ideas to pass along on how you can rock that position!
Make a Playlist of Kickass Songs to Motivate You
I advise doing this immediately after you find out you didn’t get the job because that deflated heart I mentioned earlier will need some serious tunes to get it up and going again. Misery loves company, but who has time for misery anyway? Vent briefly with friends or a family member about the situation and move right along to bigger and better things. It’s not the end of the world, I promise. It’s the end of a small blip in your life that won’t even warrant a paragraph (or a blog post) in your own memoirs one day. And there will be a lot of blips to come – inevitably – so don’t let them rule how you feel.
Keep your head and heart up and keep on doing your thing. It may be the corniest phrase ever but I have yet to hear anything bad come out of, “when it’s right, it’s right – and you’ll know.”