Regardless of your work experience, prestigious degrees or how well you prepared for the interview, at some point, we all get rejected for a job opportunity that we really wanted. Despite the bruise to our egos, often these rejections are blessings in disguise.
Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with many executives that looked back later on the “dream jobs” for which they weren’t selected and realized that they avoided a major career mistake. With hindsight, they see that landing those jobs would have put them in the wrong environment or led them off course.
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But if you’re currently experiencing the sting of rejection, here are four reasons to take into consideration when pondering why you didn’t get the job – and why you should be grateful for it.
1. You weren’t qualified
The point of taking on a new opportunity is to learn new things and increase our career trajectory. This frequently drives us to target jobs for which we’re not (yet) fully qualified. I encourage my clients to interview for these kinds of “stretch” opportunities.
But the reality is, there will be times when the company needs to hire someone that can hit the ground running with minimal growing pains. If you aren’t that candidate, you should be grateful that they didn’t hire you. I know it hurts to get the “thanks, but no thanks” message, but there’s nothing worse than starting a new job with incompatible expectations of what you can deliver and how fast you can come up to speed.
Be glad you dodged this bullet and keep interviewing for other stretch roles. Don’t become discouraged. The next position may be a better fit.
2. They weren’t ready for what you had to offer
Being over-qualified is a real problem and you may have stumbled on an organization that isn’t ready for the skills and expertise that you bring to the table.
I know this sounds like the classic, “It’s not you, it’s me” breakup line, but it’s a true reality that you would have become frustrated trying to bring your talents to a work environment that wasn’t prepared to take advantage of them. This is most often true when an organization says during the early interviews that they want to be “best-in-class” or make a significant cultural shift, but as they get to know you and your skills better, they may realize that they don’t truly want (or simply aren’t ready for) the amount of change required to help you be successful.
Again, this is a gift. You want a track record of accomplishment and this job would have set you up for failure.
3. They didn’t want to pay you what you’re worth
Sometimes, not getting an offer seems unbelievable. You loved the culture, you’re clearly qualified and they seemed to be just as interested in you as you were in them. Then you get the news that no offer is coming – they gave the job to an internal candidate or someone more junior. It’s baffling.
But don’t let it shake your confidence. Often this has to do with a mismatch between your compensation expectations and what they hoped to spend on the role. None of us want to work at a place where we have to beg them to pay us a reasonable salary. In addition, if the company was willing to let you go and hire someone cheaper, they probably weren’t as committed to the business objective you would have addressed.
And, not only would they have paid you less than you deserved, but they also wouldn’t have valued your work as much as you would have liked. You should be glad you weren’t offered this job because you might have taken it.
4. You didn’t really want it
Be honest with yourself: Was this really your dream job or are you just ready to get away from the stress of your current job? There have been times in my career where the latter was true and I just wanted a way out.
I convinced myself to interview with a company I liked, but for a job I knew I wouldn’t enjoy. I’ve accepted offers from companies I already suspected weren’t a good cultural fit for me. Were either of these true for you? Did you really want this job? And if not, how might you have sabotaged the process? Were you slow to respond or did you fail to follow up? Were you brutally honest in answering interviews questions in hopes that they might reject you?
The good news is, they did. You’re one of the lucky ones. Be grateful.
Kourtney Whitehead has focused her career on helping people reach their work goals, from executive searches to counseling to career transitions, through her positions at top executive recruiting firms and consulting companies. Her site, SimplyService.org, is an online community focused on supporting the creation of spiritually centered work lives. She is a sought-after speaker and podcast guest. Her new book, Working Whole, shares how to unite spiritual and work life.
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