Desperate Job-Seeker Suffers Crushing Disappointment
QUESTION: I woke up this morning with enthusiasm and drive to call a place I recently applied to because I was certain I would have got the job. I am more than qualified and have the experience. I expected to hear, "We are still shortlisting", or something of the sort. Instead, I heard, "That position is already filled." How come? Why wasn't I at least shortlisted? How come my application was so bad I did not even make it to the top 10?
ANSWER: I welcome your email, which is much longer than the brief extract above. The disappointment, frustration and despair you expressed throughout are palpable - and understandable. You even mentioned that you submitted seven applications for the one job!
You obviously were taking no chances on your application being overlooked. While this might be a strategic overkill motivated by desperation, I think it says something about your attitude. It suggests diligence and a willingness to do whatever it takes to land the job.
You have to now fan this ember of determination into a raging flame of resilience and perseverance to keep on trying despite this unexpected setback. It's great that you woke up with enthusiasm and positive expectancy, Allen.
However, you have to also be realistic. That means accepting that sometimes in life, things don't go exactly as we want, or expect. That's why there's the sage advice to always expect the best but prepare for the worst. That's not pessimism. It's intelligent realism.
When disappointments result from our very best efforts, we have to be resilient and courageous. We must remain optimistic. In such circumstances, we do well to adopt the resolute attitude expressed by Sir Winston Churchill who said, "Success consists in going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
Sustaining your enthusiasm
Sustaining your enthusiasm and drive to persevere is impossible if you allow yourself the luxury of despair. Also, blaming yourself is like shooting yourself in the foot.
I mention this because you've concluded it was because your application was 'so bad' why you weren't selected. Thinking it's your fault will only keep you imprisoned in the mental jail of 'learned helplessness'. If you suspect your application was below par, then get someone knowledgeable to check and help you improve it. Just don't beat yourself up about it.
Fact is, Allen, you don't know precisely why someone else was selected for the position, and you were not. It could be any number of factors.
It's a fallacy to believe that having the requisite qualification, work experience and attitude guarantee selection for a job. It's likely that many other persons with the required qualification and experience also applied. The employer could choose only one.
Also, getting into the top 10 would hardly get you an interview. Only the top three or four candidates generally get shortlisted for an interview. It's time to get back into the job hunt, Allen.
Actuate the inner strength you possess. If you do, you will unleash the power to move beyond this crushing disappointment into jobseeking success, eventually. My best wishes to you.
n Glenford Smith is author of the new book 'Profile of Excellence: Strategies for Extraordinary Achievement from 25 Years of Interviewing Remarkable People', based on the TV programme hosted by Ian Boyne. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.