A week ago today, I got the email that I didn’t get selected for a job that I’d gotten really excited about. It was a user research job, and I’d had two interviews that I felt had gone well. I knew there was a possibility they’d pick another candidate, but still, the news hit me pretty hard.
I felt like I put everything I had into the interviews for this job. I’ve been on interviews where I was like, “I’m just going to go to this and see what happens,” but this wasn’t one of the. I had everything carefully prepared and I was able to skillfully make the case for why the company should pick me. It took a lot of time and energy to do that.
Right after my initial cry over not getting the job, I knew I could either use the experience as a jumping off point into the pit of despair, or a platform to grow from. Here are a few ways I’ve been making this into the latter:
Asking for feedback
Basically every article that has tips on the job search suggests asking for feedback from interviews, but I’d never actually taken the opportunity to do this. Quite honestly, I was always afraid the interviewer would say something terrible and insulting. But I took a deep breath, reminded myself I can do hard things, and sent that email asking if there was anything I could do to make myself a more attractive candidate for similar positions.
And what do you know, I got some really helpful tips! There’s a lot of generic job interview advice out there. If the person who interviewed you is willing to provide feedback, their suggestions will be tailored to you, which is invaluable.
Doing some self-reflection
Thinking back on my gut feelings before and during the interviews, I realized that I felt excited and energized. Interviews for other positions have left me feeling exhausted and “meh.” This is telling me that user research is probably the right direction for me. This job didn’t work out, but it provided the opportunity to learn more about myself and what I want.
Trying not to let this become part of my identity
When I got that email, I felt rejected as a person. I think that’s just human nature. In my mind, I went from thinking of myself as a person for whom a job opportunity didn’t work out, to a person who got rejected, to a person that no company will ever want to hire. That happened in about five seconds. It’s easy to dwell in that mental space. But it’s not helpful to me, or anyone else. I know I have a lot to offer when the right opportunity comes up. I’m trying to be relentless about reminding myself of that.
On that note, I’m also focusing on doing a lot of things that make me feel happy and productive — like the best version of myself. I’m working on a freelance website project that makes me feel creative and capable, and a volunteer project that reminds me that I’m a good organizer. I’m also doing a lot of things just for fun, like running, decorating my home office, and oversharing my cats’ lives on Instagram. It’s helpful to not be in job seeker mode 100% of the time.
Also, here are a couple articles that have been helpful to me over the past few days: