You did everything right. Your resume matched up with the job description. You interviewed well. You sent the follow-up materials. Yet, you were notified that the company chose another candidate and you're disappointed.
Whenever you put effort into a pursuit that doesn't come to fruition, it's sure to leave you frustrated, confused, dejected and angry. That's normal. It is called "disappointment."
Before you assume you did something wrong or look to park blame externally, consider the following:
1. It Wasn't Your Job.
With all the job searching, resume sending, interviewing and hoping you're doing, you're actually only looking for one job. It's nice to get multiple offers and have your pick of opportunities, but in reality, you are really looking for one job -- your job. The right job for you will fit like a comfortable pair of shoes. You won't have to wedge your foot into it, try different socks or deal with discomfort. It will just fit. Consider that if you didn't get the offer you were hoping for, it wasn't your job. It was someone else's great fit. Your job is still out there, looking for you.
2. The Right Job Is Still Open.
There is a job for you; now you're one step closer to finding it. We know what isn't your job (e.g., the one you just lost), so it's time to find yours. Reassess your strategy and game plan, and ask yourself:
- Do I need to expand my network of contacts and influencers?
- Should I find a mentor who can coach me into that industry?
- Am I closer to discovering what I'm truly passionate about doing?
3. What Can You Learn from the Experience?
If the interviewer or hiring manager is willing, see whether they will offer you input on why they chose to hire someone else. Is there something you could have done differently? What did the other candidate offer that "sealed the deal"? Feedback is a tremendous gift you can receive from any experience, particularly the loss of a job. Try to get as specific as possible and offer your appreciation for the input.
4. Did You Pursue the Wrong Opportunity?
Were you overqualified for the job? Was the opportunity outside of your area of expertise? If you pursue every open job you see posted online, you aren't helping yourself.
Instead, get focused on the job, company and industry in which you'll do your best work. Then, pursue those opportunities at the exclusion of other jobs, which you won't be happy doing.
5. What Will You Do Next?
Disappointment can feel heavy, making it hard to move forward. But you have to. You know how to be resilient, to push through, to rise above. You learned this in the military. Adapt to the new information (this job isn't yours) and set your sights on positions that are more aligned with your goals, passions, interests and skills. Then, watch how much more receptive employers are to considering you for their teams.
The job search isn't fun for anyone -- civilian or veteran. It's a process full of ups and downs. Learning from each setback is critical. And learn from your successes, too. This is how you identify patterns to success and grow your career past the job.
A regular contributor to Military.com, Lida Citroën is an international reputation management and branding specialist and CEO of LIDA360. She is passionate about helping our nation's veterans navigate the military-to-civilian career transition and is a popular speaker at military installations and events on veteran hiring. She is the author of "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" and "Engaging with Veteran Talent: A quick and practical guide to sourcing, hiring, onboarding and developing Veteran employees."
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