I don’t tend to get attached to companies – especially during the interview process. I use the “apply to anything that is interesting and you meet the requirements at 70%” rule when searching for jobs. And help us all if I kept a record of all of the jobs I’ve applied to over the years – the list could comprise a phone book (remember those?).
But there was one job that I wanted more than anything else. It spoke to me. I was moving across the country and wanted to have a job to go to while I transitioned – you know, to tell me that I was making the right decision (and I suppose, to finance the move as well).
The job couldn’t have been more tailor-made for me if they had asked me what my dream job is. It was fixing the Human Resources department, essentially relaunching it, at a small company… and animals were involved.
Ok, it was at the zoo. It was beyond my dream job.
I applied and I got an immediate call from the hiring manager. She was interested in talking to me, but I was living across the country at the time, so she wasn’t sure. I ended up spending around $900 of my own money (non-reimbursable), flying from coast-to-coast THREE times for various interviews. The hiring manager told me that I was her candidate of choice.
I was STOKED. Giddy. And I didn’t get the job.
To be fair, no one got the job. They weren’t ready to hire, so it was all for nothing.
I was devastated about a job for the first time in my life. I finally understood the feeling of despair, and “I’m not good enough,” and “who would ever want to hire me now” feelings that my clients and friends shared with me when they didn’t land a job. Don’t get me wrong, I had been rejected before, but not so dramatically – not when I really cared.
I had to pick myself up off the ground and start over. Try to find another position that would never hold a candle to the one I really wanted. Here’s how I did it.
Picking Yourself Up After Rejection
I often say that landing a job is akin to dating – but I never imagined it would include the heartbreak that comes with rejection. Luckily for my job search, I have experience in that – so, I picked myself up and moved forward.
Get back on the horse
I was lazy for a few days, but then realized that laziness wasn’t going to get me paid any time soon. So I started my job search again. Not in earnest, but I forced myself to peruse the job boards for at least one hour each day. I didn’t apply to anything for the first week, but just got a pulse on what was out there.
I’d recommend setting up a keyword search on your aggregated job board of choice and use the auto-emails as your indication that search time needs to be begin. You’ll find yourself comparing every job to the one that just passed you by, picking apart every opportunity, but I promise – every now and then, there will be an interesting nugget amongst the group.
Fake it til you make it
Who knew you could apply that phrase to just about anything. So I started applying – honestly, not only to jobs that fit my “dream job” status, but to any ole job. In order to get a call back, you have to put your hat in the ring, so I applied to things – big and small, ideal and not; just to start getting back into the habit of being an Applicant.
Boost your self-esteem
This is probably not the best HR advice you will ever get from me, but sometimes we just need an ego-boost. And nothing boosts your ego quicker than someone being interested in you for a job! So while I was faking it, I applied to positions that I knew were a shoe-in for me. You know, those lateral moves that you would not really consider if you had “a choice,” but you know that they will be jumping up and down when they see your experience?
Yeah, I applied to those positions so I’d at least get some phone interviews set-up. Talk about major boost in my attitude — “Someone likes me! They want me!” Any interview is good practice — remember that an interview doesn’t mean you have to take the job, so for crying out loud — accept those darn practice opportunities!
My approach to things outside of my job search was even more meaningful. I needed to find something to take my mind off the opportunity that was lost. So I went to one of my favorites places in the world, and asked if they were hiring part-time. They were, and I found something to look forward to while making a little side cash.
I also started dabbling in other hobbies to help me space out my job search and also remind myself that there are other awesome things I could do to fill my time. Distracting myself from the job that wasn’t, was the quickest cure for moving forward – and soon, it was a distant memory.
To be fully transparent, the job I ended up taking was nowhere in the realm of “dream job” status – but I was excited about it because it fulfilled a lot of other interesting facets for me. Oh, and the job at the zoo… they reopened the position and had the nerve to ask me to start the interview process again. For what it’s worth, I declined.
This post first appeared on LifeAfterCollege.org.