It was his dream job; the first one he applied to right after graduation. He did not even consider looking somewhere else. He is sure it’s what he wants and he believes he can get it.
A few days later, he called me again. He told me he had a great time during the interview. He thinks he did great. He’s positive he’ll get the job. The panel told him they’ll just have to call a few of the references he gave them and said they’ll be in touch soon. Things were looking good, he said.
Or so he thought. After a few weeks, he got the email he’s been waiting for. He didn’t get the job.
It sucks to get rejected, not just on a job application but on everything else. But such is life. Sherlock Holmes once said, “It is what it is.”
To my friend, and to anyone else in the same club, here’s what I recommend doing next.
Confront your failures and pains.
Scream, cry or punch the wall if you must.
Acknowledge your frustrations and pain. Know that failures are natural; you will meet more of it along the way. The problem arises only when one fails to acknowledge failures. No learning comes out of denying it.
You failed, okay, and that is perfectly fine.
Never blame yourself, but acknowledge that, perhaps, you might have some shortcomings as well. Take responsibility for your failures because even a failure can be redemptive if you learn something from it. Only by acknowledging failure will you take its power from it and regain control of yourself.
You failed and that is perfectly fine. Feel it, own it. John Green in his novel The Fault in Our Stars wrote: “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
Know yourself (more): Reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
After confronting and owning up your failures, it is time for a little introspection. Reflect on what happened, but do not set your full attention to what went wrong; focus on what went right or what could have gone right.
“I didn’t get the job, so what went right?”, you ask.
For one, you got their attention. This means you had a great resume, a terrific cover letter perhaps, and a good networking skill maybe. You beat our other candidates and you made it to the final round.
Focus on those little victories.
But part of owning up your failure is knowing where you came short. In knowing your shortcomings, just remember that it’s not about you, it’s about what you do or fails to do.
Oka, feel guilty for not preparing well for the interview perhaps, or for not vetting your references well. But to not castigate yourself and feel shameful about it. It’s not about you per se, it’s about what you failed to do. That’s the difference between guilt and pain.
Help yourself: Ask for feedbacks and work on your weaknesses.
Know where you fell short. Reach back out to the company. Dig the rejection email in your inbox and email them.
First, be grateful for the opportunity they opened for you. Let them know that it was a valuable experience for you and you enjoyed every step you took with them. Tell them you’re still thrilled to keep in touch and know about what the firm or the agency.
Then, ask for a feedback. Here’s a sample sentence you can add before closing your email:
“If there’s anything I can do to improve my candidacy for similar positions, I’d value your thoughts.”
Ask your colleagues for feedback as well. We all have our blind spots, of course. That’s why sometimes they know weaknesses and strengths in us that we fail to notice or recognize.
After knowing what to improve, i.e. your interpersonal skills, your technical skill sets, for example, work to improve them.
Get some help from friends.
You probably have made some announcements, especially to your friends, about this dream job you are trying to get and how good things are going. And now that you didn’t I get it that you would feel a little embarrassed to tell them now that you didn’t get the job.
Well, don’t be embarrassed. In fact, this is the best opportunity to start looking for other opportunities. You can email your friends (if you are that old-school) and tell them what happened and ask them for their help.
Here’s a sample:
You know I recently interviewed for a job I really wanted at the (name of the company, firm, or agency). Unfortunately, I didn’t get it. The experience, however, has made me reflect more on my strengths and shortcomings. It also made me reflect more on what I’m really looking for: (list a few things you want to prioritize in your next job search)
Do you know anyone who works in this industry, type of role, or company? I’m hoping to get an informational interview with them. Can you refer me to them? I’d really be grateful.
Thank you so much.”
Or, if you’re not that old-school, you can just send them a direct message Messenger, Viber, or WeChat perhaps.
Get some more help.
Aside from your friends, there are other people who can help you. To name one: Recruiters.
Ever wondered what recruiters do? Of course, recruiting.
There’s more to it than just calling candidates and sending them to their clients. Recruiters do not simply just “recruit”. They vet potential candidates and look for a fit. They consider locations, overt expectations, and skill sets among others. In other words, they are matchmakers. And they’re pretty good at that.
Know that these recruitment firms have extensive networks of employers across various fields, industries, and location. You can take advantage of that when you ask for their help!
Remember that they have a stake in your success. That’s why you can depend on them. It’s in their best interest to prepare you well for a potential job, for their reputation greatly depends on the people they place or recommend to employers; so if you look bad, then they look bad. So, they’ll help you in ways that are possible to prep you up for the job! That doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Take Home Message
Know that failing is a natural part of life. It is what is. Our journey will always be going up or down, but the thing about a journey is that there’s only one way to go: Forward.
So, just keeping moving forward. Acknowledge your failures, own them, and most importantly, learn from them. Keep assessing and reinventing yourself, and never be afraid to ask for others’ help.