Picture the scene: you find the perfect job to apply for. It's at a fantastic company in a great location and it's exactly what you want to do. You can see yourself excelling in this role.
You apply and are asked to come in for an interview. It gets even better. You feel totally relaxed in the company, ideas are racing around your head for the role already and you get on really well with the people you meet.
You walk away from the interview on cloud nine. You don't get your hopes up, but it's such a perfect job and place for you that you can't help but wish, hope and pray that you get it. You've even got a feeling inside you telling you that you might just have the edge.
Your phone rings - you haven't got it.
When you want something so badly and it doesn't happen for you, it can really knock you back. It's easy for people to say, "there are other jobs out there" or "this one just wasn't meant to be." But that doesn't stop the feeling that you haven't done well enough or that you've let yourself down.
Not getting your dream job should not make you lose all hope. Of course it’s OK to be disappointed – you’re only human after all. In your head, you’ll be ripping yourself to pieces, going over and over the possible reasons as to why you didn't get the job. Then, underneath the worry and confusion is a layer of sadness, because you worked so hard.
Outside, it’s a completely different story. You've got a reputation to maintain. You've got to control your composure and show everyone that it isn't bothering you.
But what do you do when you get a knock-back like that? How do you bounce back from not getting your dream job? It might not seem like it, but there are some things you can do to get yourself back on track.
Take a minute to listen to your feelings
I know you’ll be reading this and thinking WHAT?! but just stay with me for a second. If you’re feeling, sad, angry or frustrated, take time to let yourself feel that way. You need to give yourself the chance to get it all out of your system. If you keep your feelings inside they’ll keep on boiling until they spill out of you in a way that makes you ill, meaning you might not be able to work at all. Feelings affect us in mysterious ways. If you need to let go, let go in a way that makes you feel better. That could be having a rant, being silent, or talking it out with a friend. Anything you do whilst you’re in this state of negativity could impact badly upon any actions you carry out in the near future.
Don’t blame yourself
I’m a person that takes everything to heart. As much as I’ve tried to change this about myself, I know it’ll always be a part of who I am. But let me tell you something – just because you don’t get the job doesn’t mean that it’s about you. It’s not personal. Stumbling over one of your answers to try and get the words right, or sneezing when you were introduced to someone, doesn’t affect the employers decision of whether to hire you or not. You don’t know the reason. I’ve gone for jobs that have sounded great. But then I’ve received an email saying “We’re not advertising the position anymore”, or “we’ve hired someone internally” – you don’t know the reason. It could simply be that someone has just ticked one more box than you, which I know is hard to face up to when you feel like you ticked all the boxes. But it isn’t about you.
You can go over and over the endless possibilities in your head as to why you didn’t get the job. But no amount of thought will help you understand. You’ll drive yourself crazy with it! Continuing to focus on the situation keeps you stuck in the past, and that really affects your mind-set. You know what they say – if you want to change something, change your mind-set. What’s better than thought? Taking action.
Follow up & ask for feedback
When you don’t get offered the job, forgetting to write a response email is something a lot of people forget to do. You might still be upset and that’s OK. But take five minutes to send your contact a nice email, thanking them for taking the time to meet with you and say that you would continue to check back for new openings. You don’t know what this might turn into – I know someone who did this and the potential employer connected with her on LinkedIn. So if a new opportunity at the company arose, there might be a good chance that she’d get it.
It’s also a good chance here to ask for feedback. All you need to say is, Would you be able to provide me with some feedback so I can improve on my skills for the future? See what reply you get and take the advice on board.
No matter what job you get or don’t get, the most important thing is that you’re working towards your ultimate goal. It doesn’t matter whether you’re really clear on this goal or you don’t know the specifics - what matters is that everything you do is taking you one step closer to where you want to be. So if you find yourself daydreaming about what you could have had, or the dream job that didn’t work out, change your thinking. Everything starts with changing your mindset. Think about how this experience can take you towards your future. If you need to brush up on your Photoshop skills, do it. If you think you need to work on your covering letter, do it. You don’t know what opportunities these can take you to in the future.
Get yourself back out there
It can be so tempting to let a bad experience affect you. But please don’t let it affect your future. You didn’t get it - is it really the worse thing that could happen to you in life right now? My mum has always said to me, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”, and she’s right. When we pin all our hopes on something, we’re usually setting ourselves up for disappointment. But if we keep our options open, and apply for four roles close to your dream job instead of just the one, the result might be better than you think. Every time you’re invited for an interview, it’s showing that people are impressed with you. And every time you submit another application form, it shows you’ve got the strength to keep going and to put yourself out there.
Out of all the takeaways in this post, the one thing I've learnt as someone who has applied for a lot of jobs is this: it might seem like the worst thing in the world when you don't get your dream job. But it’s actually an opportunity you need to learn more about yourself and set you up for better successes in the future. They will come. I promise.
Have you ever been knocked back by not getting a great job? How did you overcome it?
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