You didn’t get the job you wanted? It’s happened to most of us at some stage or another. When the letter or the call comes through, it’s a horrible feeling – the metaphorical kick in the stomach. So, what happens next?
Give yourself a break to recover from the disappointment
Don’t be too hard on yourself, it might be the time for a bit of a treat. Talk to family or friends. I find it helpful to start “remembering” all the things I didn’t like about the particular employer. I have even pondered that I didn’t like the colour the walls were painted! Go for anything which makes you feel better.
There’s no rush
It’s really important to remember this. If you’re a Millennial then your retirement age is probably going to be at least 70. Before you start groaning, think what this means. You have plenty of time to start a career which you really want with your dream employer. You don’t have to leap from university straight into that amazing job. It may even take you a few years to work out what that “perfect” role is. So, don’t panic, your life is not over because someone doesn’t want to employ you this year.
What went wrong?
It is a good idea to try to work out what went wrong. Understanding this will inform subsequent applications and might even lead you to completely rethink your aspirations. If you got to the final stage of an application process, you can reasonably expect to get some substantive feedback on what you did well and not so well. Don’t wallow in self-pity and decide that feedback will make you feel worse, grit your teeth and find out what you can.
If your application fell by the way at an earlier stage, then feedback from an employer is probably not a possibility. Get someone else to look at your application. University careers should be able to give you some pointers.
If you can identify a few things which went wrong with the application then you can probably fix them. Think about what you need to do to address them and make sure that you are still confident that a job like this is for you. If you’re very shy and hate having to put yourself forward, and you didn’t get the job because you weren’t confident enough, there’s an obvious question. Will you enjoy doing the job if you get it? Might there be other careers which will make you feel more comfortable? Still determined this is for you? Great! Are there other employers you could apply to this year or do you need to take a year out and try again for the dream job? Either option might work,
What if the problems were a bit more fundamental?
There is no point in ploughing on making applications doomed to failure. It’s time to be honest with yourself. Do you have the qualifications your chosen employers are asking for? If they want a UCAS point count of 360 and you have 340, then in a highly competitive process you are going to be ruled out right at the start. Why waste your time in making applications which are not going to be successful? Missing a key academic requirement is an obvious problem, but what if the issue is less clear cut. Perhaps your English isn’t as good as it needs to be, (and this isn’t necessarily just a problem for those who do not have English as a first language). This isn’t such a quick fix. You might have to take some time to make improvements before you press on with the next application. Is there some training which would be useful? Maybe gaining some workplace experience would help. Keep reminding yourself that there isn’t any reason to rush.
What if nothing obvious went wrong?
This can be the toughest situation. Sometimes there is no clear explanation of what went wrong. This might be where you need to develop your resilience. It can feel very unfair. Sadly employers don’t always make the right decisions, sometimes lack of success can turn on the smallest thing. If you’ve got the right qualifications and did a good application then the chances are that it won’t be long before someone notices you and you find yourself hired.