Feb 27 2014

How to cope when your career isn’t going to plan

One thing is for certain, we will all be rejected for a job at some point in our lives. It’s how we deal with the disappointment that’s important.  Disappointment is an uncomfortable emotion and can be difficult to deal with. Here guest blogger, Dr Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena, explains how, by thinking differently, you can use these experiences to build career resilience, focus on your core strengths and develop a stronger sense of self. Read on for a few tips to help with this process.

Treat every interview as a learning experience: Naturally, interviews or assessments can be nerve wracking and anxiety provoking. As a way of minimising the pressure or anxiety you might feel, it can be useful to reframe the experience as one where you get to learn more about yourself, and about your potential employer

Every rejection is not a personal attack on you: Neither is ‘rejection’ feedback. Often when we do not get the job we want, there is a temptation to couch it in personal attacks e.g. ‘I have failed’, ‘I must have done something wrong’. Often, a rejection is about other unseen factors, employers weigh in on many considerations when recruiting, many of these are not in your control.

Experience and manage emotion: It’s okay to feel upset, disappointed or sad about not getting a job role. To try and deflect that emotion would be unhelpful. Feel your emotions, because you are human, but try not to let them escalate into a form of self criticism, or become the lens through which you view your whole experience.

Look at the bigger picture; gain perspective: Take a step back, what did you learn from this experience? Is your assessment of the situation a fair one? Try not to engage in judgmental or self critical talk, or project feelings and thoughts about this experience to the rest of your life. Try not to carry around past experience baggage into your present and future endeavours.

Refocus: After allowing yourself some room to grieve and breathe, re-evaluate and refocus. Is there anything you can do to help you improve our prospects? In learning from your experience, what would you like to strengthen? Where would you like to focus your energy now?

Focus on your strengths:  Often when we are disappointed, we are more likely to focus on what we feel we don’t have, or what has not happened, rather than highlighting our strengths and qualities. You may not have secured the role this time round, but that does not take away from your intelligence, humour and quirkiness. Celebrate those, and reframe your view of yourself. It is also useful to focus on this when going into an interview situation- take in your best you!

Normalise the process:  You are certainly not alone in the feeling of disappointment- many have experienced this, and many more will. You are in no way an anomaly for not getting a role, or receiving the grade you wanted. Try not to be unfairly harsh on yourself.

Gain sources of validation and self esteem from other areas of your life: Building resilience is also about gaining a sense of self and confidence from multiple areas- your hobbies, your interests, the people you interact and socialise with. Try not to let your job prospects/role become the only source of validation as this leads to an imbalance which can be fragile and leave you feeling vulnerable.

Further sources of help: If you’re finding it difficult to manage disappointment and stress or want help overcoming negative thinking, LSE Careers and the Student Counselling Service run workshops such as the Career In:Sight Series as well as offering individual 1:1 and group training sessions. See LSE Careers and the Student Counselling Service for further details.

About Maddie Smith

Careers Consultant, LSE Careers
This entry was posted in Career planning, Careers blog, Homepage news, Interviews, assessment centres and psychometric tests, LinkedIn, LSE Careers, PhD careers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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