Job Search Advice

Remove Humiliation from Your Job Search

You’ve found the perfect job, the perfect job for you, and with tenacity, grit, and stellar preparation, you made it to the finalist round.

It’s been a week since the last grueling interview, and you’ve heard nothing. You’ve spent the week dreaming into the job, imagining your new office, considering what you’ll negotiate for your salary and benefits, and strategizing about who you want to eat lunch with.

Yet, time ticks by and no word from the company. Silence.

As it becomes increasingly clear that you weren’t the Chosen One, you wonder what you did wrong. Your confidence starts to slip, you ask whether your judgment is off about other things you thought were a sure bet in your life. Why didn’t you even merit a courtesy phone call? What’s up with THAT?!

The emotional fallout from a job search can be difficult.First, know that this crushing experience isn’t something that just descends on you. We all feel our guts twist at some point in the job search process. You’re not alone, and this decision isn’t a referendum on you and your value and worth and what you can command in the marketplace.

Everyone, every single person, experiences doubt about their career progression. There isn’t a single one of us who dodges this agonizing “will I measure up?” gremlin.

The universality of this painful process doesn’t lessen the impact of it, but knowing that you’re tapping into a process that sits squarely in the world of Human Experience brings you company, and hopefully encourages you to reach out and connect with your supportive community so that you’re not suffering alone.

The good news is that there a key insight that you can use to combat the squeeze of pain that a job search inevitably brings to your life.

Know that It’s Not Personal

It’s a buyer’s market in the world of work right now. Hiring authorities have the advantage because they can draw upon a very qualified pool of applicants. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have a place or won’t soon get an offer. It just means that there’s no simple mechanism for hiring managers to get feedback that their silence and slowness has enormous impact on job seekers.

Plus, almost every company out there is having to stretch existing resources further than ever before. People in corporate America are often buried in work, stretched beyond their normal capacity, and they’re doing all they can to stay afloat. They’re often doing the work of more than one person due to cutbacks and demands from those at the next level above them.

When hiring authorities get mired in overload and don’t surface long enough to attend to common courtesies (like returning phone calls and formally closing the loop on a job search), it’s easy to jump to conclusions about your own value and worthiness rather than see the big picture that drives their behavior.

It’s not that they’re rude – some of them certainly are — but most of them are just surviving themselves. They probably don’t have formal training or guidance about how to handle the hiring process, and they don’t recognize how much it means to people waiting to hear about their decisions. They may bungle the process in many ways:

  • Taking an extraordinary amount of time to give you the formal “no” (or, worse, never getting back to you)
  • Giving you no feedback or bland, completely meaningless feedback (“we went in another direction” – what are you supposed to do with THAT?!)
  • Giving mixed messages during the interview (“Our top priority is X” and then later “We’re putting all of our resources this year into Y” or “We’re paying particular attention to candidates who have A qualification” and then a few minutes/hours/sentences later, “It’s important that the person we hire have Opposite of A characteristic”)

Forgive them.

They’re usually tired, getting mixed message themselves, and lost in the sea of their own worlds.

It has nothing to do with you, your merit, your fit, your value. It’s just a sad commentary on our busy world, one that admittedly has you as collateral damage, but one that doesn’t have to define you.

4 thoughts on “Remove Humiliation from Your Job Search

  1. This all is so important to remember, Maggie, and I’m so glad you brought it up–that what happens isn’t always just about you. It can be so easy to take things personally when in fact it could be any number of factors that the dream job (or anything else) didn’t quite work out. It’s also great that you mentioned that these things don’t have to define you. Do the best you can to forgive others, know that they have “stuff” of their own that their dealing with, and learn from the experience. Very well said!

  2. Very well said Maggie and it’s something we all do from time to time, we take it personal when it is not. We never know what is going on in the life of the others. Also, this was not the perfect job, the universe has something else in mind, we just don’t see the bigger picture yet.

  3. I’m sharing this one with my sister in law- she has been searching for work since last January. She was a marketing executive for an advertising company so it has been VERY difficult for her to find things to apply for that were at her level. I think she could really benefit from your blog!

  4. Ah, yes, I have certainly been through this … even when it seemed I was perfect for a job, and I thought I got on really well with the interviewers. Like you say, there’s not much point in attributing some particularly reason why, or meaning to, not hearing. Most likely, I’ll never learn the reason. And it is definitely *their* reason (the reason of the interviewers) why they didn’t respond. There’s no way to ever know. As an old friend of mine used to say … “Next!”

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