how do I mentally move on after not getting the job?

A reader writes:

I just found out that a position I was a finalist for was offered to another candidate. While I tried not to get my hopes up throughout the interview process, as I moved further along I inevitably started to get excited about the possibility of working at this new company.

The company that I’m currently at is extremely dysfunctional. The president of our company openly complains and gossips about the company’s employees. I’ve had three bosses in the year I’ve been at the company. I’m extremely underpaid, but the company recently lost a few large clients and isn’t in a situation to give out raises any time soon.

I continued to search and apply for jobs while I was interviewing, but there haven’t been many job prospects to apply for and I feel like I’m back at square one. How do I mentally move on after not being offered the position and find the motivation to continue putting in effort at my current job?

The biggest thing is to remember that you can never really know how good of a fit the job, the company, and the manager might have been. Even if they all seemed great, it’s pretty hard to know from the outside — and hell, you could have gotten into the job and discovered that it was as dysfunctional as your current company. In fact, it might help to think back to how you felt when you were offered your current job — you were probably pretty excited and thought it would be a good move, right? So those initial feelings don’t always pan out.

Of course, that’s kind of terrifying and raises the question of whether you should go into every new job braced for the worst, and of course you shouldn’t do that either. (And there’s lots you can do to lower the chances of ending up somewhere terrible.) But when you’ve lost out on a job you wanted, it’s helpful to remember that you don’t really know exactly what it is that you didn’t get.

About how you find the motivation to keep putting in effort at your current job: Your motivation to leave can actually be the thing that motivates you to work hard while you’re still there because the more you achieve there and the more you build your reputation, the better your chances of being able to move somewhere where you’ll be happier.

Of course, it’s not as straightforward as “do great work and jobs will fall in your lap” (although sometimes that does happen). It’s about the combination of having more impressive things to put on your resume, more people out in the world who know you as a skilled and competent person (and who over time may connect you to jobs), stronger references, and a strong sense of yourself as someone who kicks ass at what you do, which is something that tends to make you interview better.

And don’t lose sight of the fact that you will find another job. You’re not going to be stuck at this one for the rest of your life. It might even be a better job than the one that just rejected you, who knows. Stories abound of people who didn’t get a job they really wanted, only to get hired for something far better a few months later, which they wouldn’t have even applied for if they’d gotten the first job. I’m not pollyanna-ish enough to say that’ll definitely happen to you, but I think what’s valuable to take away from those stories is that this isn’t the only job out there that will feel like a good fit to you. More will come.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 81 comments… read them below }

  1. Fawn*

    This is really timely. I was just rejected after interviewing for an internal position that I badly, badly wanted. It went to another internal candidate. I interviewed for another internal job late last week. I’m just waiting for the rejection email to come through and trying to curtail my hopes in the meantime.

    It’s really hard. I find my confidence sinking lower than I ever thought it could. Thanks for the reminder that, while it might not feel like it right now, things will improve eventually.

    1. anna green*

      Same here. I’ve been looking for a few months. And not only is looking for a job time consuming, its so mentally exhausting because the constant rejection is so tough to deal with. I just want somebody to want me! But its helpful to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

      1. OP*

        “I just want someone to want me.” That’s exactly how I feel. I want an employer to want me that I also want! I feel like it’s so hard to find that, which is why it’s so deflating to go through the months long interview process and ultimately get a rejection.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Hang in there! I was seriously job hunting for a little over a year. (It was more casual before that – then my workplace, which was going downhill, seriously upped their dysfunction level. I think they’re trying to win a contest.)

          Anyway, it was really, really frustrating. I would get rejection letters for jobs that I thought I’d be great at, or I’d get phone interviews that never went anywhere. And I had two places that put me through a multi-interview process. One included a few hours of tests. Both were no-gos. (Actually, one never contacted me again after 4 interviews, which I thought was a little rude.) A couple places were honest that I was more skilled than they wanted/needed or that they couldn’t match my (not-unreasonable) salary requirements. And some of them were advertising the position I applied for months after they rejected me. (I started seeing those as their loss, not mine.)

          It got to be pretty depressing, especially since my own job was getting less pleasant all the time. And by the time I had the interview for the job I have now, I really talked myself out of thinking the interview went as well as it did. (The hiring manager basically spent less time interviewing me and more time “selling” the job to me. But I’ve known other people that’s happened to that didn’t get the job they were interviewing for.)

          Be optimistic, but don’t pin your hopes all on one job. Remember that you don’t know exactly what the culture or needs of the company are; nor do you know if that job would be the best fit for you. Hone the skills you do have. (If there are local classes you can take, that can help your confidence a bit, and might give you an edge in your interviews.) And remember to have confidence in your own skills and talents. (I also got Alison’s book, and it was my job search bible. I printed it out and literally carried it around with me every day.)

          Also, someone mentioned volunteering. I started volunteering before my job search got serious, and it really has been a great experience. Especially when the volunteer supervisor gave me some compliments on my work ethic. It made me feel appreciated in a way I wasn’t at work. But if you have other hobbies, don’t neglect those, or your stress level will just go up more.

          Sorry this is so long, but I just got off this experience, and I want you to know that you are not alone. And you can do it!

          I am warning you, though, the first week or so after you do accept a job, you won’t know what to do with yourself after work, because job hunting has become your second job, and suddenly your evenings are much freer.

          1. Mzmm*

            Great feedback – thank you for all the positive words, encouragement and tips. all the best to u and I’m happy you finally got a great job that you like!

          2. Jo Thomas*

            Thanks Charlotte, great post. I am currently waiting to hear back about a job I really want but my confidence is ebbing away as the days tick by. I felt that they talked more about themselves than asked me about me which left me feeling like I didn’t get a chance to sell myself. Fingers crossed though it’s not over until they tell me it’s a no!

      2. Marillenbaum*

        This just further solidifies that job searching is like dating, and rejection is every bit as painful.

        1. Gadfly*

          Ugh. Especially when you have to psych yourself up because you know you fit a ‘kind’ that gets discriminated against. There is a point where you have to ask if it is you or them. And while it is easy to say “well, it could be coincidence I keep losing out to people who are ____ type” or “well, I guess I wouldn’t want to work for bigots” it is crazy making and crushing–especially when you need a job, need to be paid.

          I applied for a good job a few times at a place I had temped. All the people I had worked with loved me. On paper I was qualified and I knew the job enough to know why it was a far more difficult job than it seemed.

          Never made it to a second interview. I later heard the guy in charge of hiring had to be told by HR to stop hiring almost exclusively leggy blondes, and later yet that almost none of his hires ever made it through the 3 year probation.

          I makes me feel a little better to know I was right, but not much–it was a great job in a great space despite this. And it just cements the worry of how many other jobs looked more at my face than my CV?

          How to you rev yourself up over and over again when everything out there makes clear that you have a much lower chance than someone else who lacks one non work related feature?

          1. Audiophile*

            3 year probation?!?

            What kind of company was this? Any job I’ve had, there was a 60-90 day probationary period, at most.

            1. Gadfly*

              It was for an examiner position with Disability Determination Services/Social Security. There was a lot of specialized training needed (some of which I had already been through) and they had had high turnover and someone high up the food chain thought this would help them–there was a big raise tied to making it through probation if I recall correctly. I don’t know if it was only this office or if it was a national policy.

        2. Yasmina Mickas*

          Both are stressful, and heartbreaking to be rejected. I have heard that dating is referred to as a “meat market”; however, job hunting is just as much a “meat market” as dating, and even more so because it is our livelihood. Our whole standard of living is based on what we do and how much we are paid. I call myself an employment reconnaissance specialist. Sounds better than job seeker. I am working now; however, I am facing this uncertainty in another 6 weeks and just got rejected from one that I thought was a perfect fit. There is nothing else in the area that even comes even close to this in fit and pay scale. It is so hard because everything about job seeking is a negative. Rejection letters, multiple interviews, bills piling up which turn into threatening letters, reducing your credit rating and further attacking your ability to get work.
          The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results; however, that is exactly what the job meat market is. I wish there was another way around it.

    2. Anony Mouse*

      Ugh, me too. I interviewed for a position on Monday that’s about as close to “dream job” as they get. (My current job is NOT in my area of specialty and my boss is abusive; I’ve been trying to leave for 6 months.) It’s in a specialized field in higher ed and there are very few opportunities for this kind of job in my region of the country. When the supervisor gave me his business card, he accidentally gave me the card of the person who interviewed right before me. I looked the candidate up (of course), and discovered that they are an internal candidate with have 20 more years experience than me, including holding an equivalent position at an Ivy League university. I tried so hard not to get my hopes up for this job, but clearly I didn’t succeed, given how depressed I feel now, waiting for the rejection letter (assuming they send even one).
      Hang in there, and don’t lose hope.

      1. Aussie Teacher*

        Please remember that they chose to interview you – that means they thought you were worth bringing in for an interview!

      2. Dan*

        Can I be honest with you?

        I don’t think you’re competing against that candidate. You’re so different in terms of experience (and presumably pay expectations) that this is going to come down to what the position actually needs and what they’re willing to pay, and that comes down to something you can’t do anything about. If they need that experience and are willing to pay for it, then you’re out of the running anyway; if they don’t need it and aren’t willing to pay for it, you’re a more attractive candidate. I suppose it’s possible this person is in management and wants to step down (and therefore is willing to take a pay cut) but you don’t indicate that in your research.

        Two of my former coworkers work in the same department (60ish people, not terribly huge) at my current employer. They interviewed at the same time but have substantially different skillsets. One thought they were competing against the other, but both got hired. Again, substantially different skillsets. One is not “better” than the other. One is better suited for particular roles, the other is better suited for other types of roles. The interview is to sort all that stuff out.

        All I’m saying is that one of you is very mismatched for the position. I’m more nervous when I find out my competition is equally unqualified (or for that matter, equally qualified) and it truly comes down to a crap shoot.

        1. Anony Mouse*

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’ll clarify a few points.
          –My current job is roughly the same level as the one we’re applying for, but in a different area of higher ed, and my previous job was almost exactly the same. I relocated here for personal reasons and took what was available to me at the time.
          –The other person is in a job that’s one step lower than the one we’re applying for, and two to three steps lower than the job they had at the Ivy League school. The other person is from this state originally, so I’d guess they also moved back for personal reasons and took whatever job was available at the time.
          –The salary is non-negotiable, as it’s a public university and the school is dealing with significant budget cuts.
          –FWIW, I told my former boss about the situation and he thinks the other person is hugely overqualified for the job we’ve interviewed for. But, like I said, there are VERY few positions in this sub-field in this region: there are maybe 20-30 positions total across all the universities in our state.

          1. Dan*

            Well, there’s no way for you to really know, nor is it even worth trying to read the tea leaves. I mean, what’s the point of trying to convince yourself (or not) that the other person is going to get the job?

    3. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Yes, the wires will un-cross and those tables–well, they always turn. I always look at it this way… You probably felt the same way before you got your current job.

    4. NW Mossy*

      I’ve been on both sides of the internal-candidate coin – I wasn’t picked for a couple of management positions, but was the one selected for the last two I applied for (my current one, and the one I start in a week and a half).

      Looking back, those failures were useful failures. Applying made people aware that I wanted to move up, so that gave me a place in the pipeline and an easy way to talk to people about what I needed to do for the next step. Interviewing helped me get very familiar with what my org looks for in managers and how to perform well in the interview setting. It also helped me build contacts that are priceless to me both in getting jobs but succeeding in them.

      My advice is to keep taking shots, because circumstances can change unexpectedly. Maybe a former boss gets a new job and remembers you a couple years later when they have an opening (which just happened to me). Maybe a senior leader who thought you weren’t strong enough in X gets replaced by someone who doesn’t care about X at all. Maybe the whole organization restructures and things are suddenly wide open. You just never know when something will change in the environment to give you the chance, and it’s been my experience that it often happens faster than I would have expected.

    5. Elenia*

      Me too. I have been doing this particular job for five months as interim and yet they hired someone from outside. To make matters worse, my one-over-one – so the new woman’s direct boss – is bringing flowers and a card for her when she starts and I can’t help but feel resentful – where is my flowers and card, or even a thank you for working like a dog for five months to make sure things didn’t fall apart? On the one hand, there are parts of the job I’m glad she has to worry about, but it is really hard to not feel like no one appreciates you.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        That’s a frustrating situation, I’m sorry you’re in it. Don’t give up: something better *will* come along.

      2. Dan*

        If it makes you feel any better, I think the flowers and card are a bit weird. This site is pretty big on “if you wouldn’t do it for/to a guy, don’t do it to a woman.” I’d *never* give a guy flowers and a card on his first day, and I’d find it really weird if it was given to me. It’d make me question whether people in that workplace have serious boundary issues.

        I would give a guy flowers and a card (or feel comfortable receiving them) for the loss of a loved one, and that’s pretty much it. *Maybe* I’d do it for a child birth. Anything that’s cause for a celebration is generally acknowledged with a team lunch of some sort.

        1. Elenia*

          Yeah. Bagels for the office, maybe. Take everyone out to lunch? But it’s so personal. I didn’t even mention the other part – originally he asked me to get the flowers, despite totally knowing that I applied for the job and was hella disappointed not to get it. Completely tone deaf at the very least. Thankfully I was legitimately not going to be there on her starting date so I was not able to get them.

    6. Courageous cat*

      Yep. I’m being laid off at the end of this month and, while I’m the furthest I’ve ever been in my career, I’m having the hardest time I’ve ever had finding a new job. I haven’t gotten many interviews (and I’ve been actively searching for about 2 months now) and when I do, I never make it past the first interview, no matter how excited the interviewer seems about me. The last interviewer even said “I’m really excited about this” and got my references and told me directly what the next step would be, and I never heard from her again.

      I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to find a job this time around, but it’s getting both scary and deflating my self-esteem at the same time. And makes me all the more nervous about choosing the right place – because if I don’t, it seems clear that I’d be back at square 1 with incredible difficulty finding another job.

      Hang in there!

    7. Jackie Paper*

      I’ve been looking/applying for over a year. The constant rejection does really start to wear on you and your sense of self-esteem.

      There is a job I’ve really wanted that I’ve applied to and interviewed for THREE TIMES in the past year. I think I’ve finally reached the point where I am going to take the hint that they are Just Not That Into Me and it’s not going to happen and I should just give up on that particular dream.

      It’s hard though.

    8. dang*

      Same here. I was just rejected after interviewing for an internal position. i wanted this job. i have a Masters in physics and I applied for an admin assistant job in my company. I know i have the ability to do admin duties (like preparing for meetings, booking travels for my boss, keeping his calendar up to date) as i have been doing these arranging, chairing meetings, coordinating, managing projects with my masters degree and working in my company as an scientist. but still they gave the job to some outside candidate who has 20 yrs experience. not sure if an old person can travel that much as is supposed to be for this job. very disappointed.

  2. Doug Judy*

    This is good advice. It’s really hard to be rejected from what seems like a amazing job and company, even more so when you are miserable at your own job. I’ve been in that boat for about nine months, so I can empathize.

    I find if I take a day to morn not getting the job, then shake it off an keep looking. I’ve also started doing volunteer work, which not only helps the resume, but makes me feel valued.

    Good luck OP.

    1. OP*

      Thanks for the advice! I recently started volunteering at an animal rescue, which has helped. Dogs and cats definitely seem to help make things better!

  3. Collie*

    Ah, yes. I’ve been in this situation for almost 2 1/2 years. Some rejections are easier than others, but it’s always helpful to hear this reiterated. Sending all good feelings to all of us in this seemingly-sinking ship.

  4. Lauren*

    I really feel for the OP. I graduated college and moved across the country right when the Great Recession hit and could not find any work. I took a temp job for a bit and then went back to school. While I was in school, I saw a job at my husband’s company that was perfect – part time, so I could still focus on my degree, combining both my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree (which were two different fields), and no experience required, when I had some experience already. I truly was a perfect fit for this job, and I know being related to someone that worked there was actually considered a plus in the company culture. After a few months of hearing nothing, I got an email saying how perfect I was for the job, but they were going with someone else.

    I admit, I cried. That hurt. They said I was perfect, but I wasn’t going to even get an interview. I suspect they wanted to hire someone internally, but because they are a government contractor they had to put out a job notice. It took quite a while for me to get over. I mean, my confidence in myself was really low after my experience not finding something in the Great Recession, so to lose out that way just made me feel even worse.

    All that said, I finally finished my master’s degree and now work full time. It’s been several years now and I don’t really think about this experience very much. I just kind of had to ride it out and keep working on what I was already doing. I’m glad that I did and happier for it.

  5. AMT*

    Even if OP didn’t snag this one, the fact that they were a finalist says that (a) they’re generally a strong candidate, and (b) they’re applying for jobs at the right level. I know it’s discouraging, but it probably means that it’s just a matter of time and applications (ugh…applications) before they’re offered something.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Great comment! The worst is when you finish the interview and the rejection email is in your inbox before you get home. Then you know you weren’t even considered. If the OP is making it to final interviews, then it’s likely another job is around the corner.

    2. Skullclutter*

      I came here to say the same thing. I was job hunting a year ago after a layoff. I was able to get by after getting rejections after multiple-round interviews by telling myself this.

      In the end, I was right, snagged a new position with a great company which has ended up highlighting just how dysfunctional my old position was.

  6. London Calling*

    *Stories abound of people who didn’t get a job they really wanted, only to get hired for something far better a few months later, which they wouldn’t have even applied for if they’d gotten the first job.*

    I couldn’t agree more. Six weeks ago I interviewed for a job I thought I really wanted and that ticked all my boxes, only to withdraw my candidacy after interviewing and thinking it over and realising that it had a few things that I wasn’t happy with – a very small team, for one thing, when I prefer to work in a bigger one. I made a list of things I really want from a job, started temping on Monday at a role that ticked a lot of them and have been offered a permanent job three days in.

    Good luck, OP. You will move on and you know what? you won’t even remember the disappointment this time next year.

    1. Ornery PR*

      Yes, OP! I am one of the stories AAM speaks of. Years ago, I interviewed at a company a friend recommended, and though the interview went well, I felt I was way under qualified for the position, and the commute was further than I wanted. Meanwhile, I was waiting to hear back from a job for which I was very well qualified, I had a personal recommendation from someone at the top, it was in the location I wanted, I nailed the interview, and they would pay for me to get a post-grad degree. Dream Job, right? Well as soon as I got home from the interview from Stretch Job, I got a rejection from Dream Job… and I. was. devastated. I called my mom and cried about how no one would ever hire me and I felt useless. It took me a couple days to recover when suddenly I get an offer from Stretch Job. It paid more than $10/hr more than Dream Job (and now I make over $20k more than when I started), and I am still here 6 years later and loving my work and company. OP, you never know what’s just around the corner. Don’t lose hope!

  7. a big fish in a small pond*

    OP, I would add that while it feels like a personal rejection, the hiring process has SO many variables that it is important to remember that the decision can be totally unrelated to how competent or how likeable or how much potential you personally had to offer.

    1. OP*

      Thanks for this reminder. I know it’s not personal, but it always seems to feel that way. I know there are a lot of really great candidates for every job so I’m sure the person they chose was amazing. It’s just disappointing when that person isn’t you.

  8. AndersonDarling*

    I think the hardest part of job searching is being rejected and not having another job to apply for. I was able to cope with rejection if I had another possible job to focus on. It’s those dry spells…ugh. It seemed like the jobs I was qualified for came in spurts, if I applied for one job then 3 more would pop up. Then nothing for a month. Not being able to take an action drove me crazy.

    1. London Calling*

      Dry spells are one of the reasons I’m happy to be leaving temping behind. Three months working and six weeks not isn’t a lot of fun when you are trying to keep tabs on cash flow and save some money (joke).

      1. OP*

        Yes, this was the hardest part! Being rejected and feeling like I was starting back at square one.

        1. Fluffer Nutter*

          I know, and if you apply for too many things at once, you get too many interviews and it’s stressful when you’re leaving for your 10th “dentist appointment” in 2 months. I’m a finalist for 2 jobs right now, waiting to hear. Hang in there, and look for job descriptions that emphasize areas where you really shine.

  9. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

    Been there and done that –many times. One time, I was really, really excited about a prospect. I’d gone for several interviews. The manager was from my oldJob (he was in my area, but I didn’t work with him), so with that and the numerous interviews, I thought sure I had the position. When I didn’t get it, needless to say, I was soooo bummed. But it turns out, it was a blessing in disguise. I heard from people that DID work with that manager that I dodged a bullet. The told me how terrible he is etc. and that I was lucky I DIDN’T get the job working with him. So as AAM said, you never know WHAT you are being protected from. Learn from every interview experience and know that the right job is out there for you.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I once showed up for an interview and the waiting room was filled with people. I was chatting with someone who turned out to be interviewing for the same job. I got the job and It Was Horrible. Dysfunctional workplace, monster incompetent boss. It took 2 years and a chunk of my soul to get out of there. I always wonder about the lady I was talking to in the waiting room…I bet she doesn’t know how blessed she was to be rejected.

  10. MicroManagered*

    I was rejected for a job I really wanted a few months ago. It was actually the first time I’d made it to a final-round of interviewing and NOT been hired, so it was tough not to be bummed out. I was also working for a pretty toxic manager at the time, so that didn’t help.

    It turned out that an even better opportunity came along two months later, and I landed it. If I’d been given the choice between Job A (that I didn’t get) and Job B (that I did), it’d be Job B all the way. So you never know what opportunities lay around the corner.

    Also, interviewing and resume-writing are skills that not everyone possesses. You’re just that much stronger for the next opportunity. I used my recent rejection to look back at what I could’ve done better, what questions I didn’t answer as strongly, and prepared for the next interview with that info in mind.

  11. Abby*

    I am so sorry. I have also been unemployed for periods of time and could not find jobs. More than once I have interviewed for a job for which I thought I was perfect for and didn’t get it. A year ago, I was one of two finalists for a job that I still think I would have been perfect for. Didn’t get it. I truly understand. Please know from someone who has worked in HR for two decades, it really rarely is that you are awful. Someone is slightly better or has an in or something.

    I once had a job opening that reported to me. I had two great candidates, both of whom I loved. In the end it was almost a coin toss. I picked one and she was great but I still think I could have chosen the other and she would have been good too.

  12. Another Lawyer*

    I interned for a year at a prestigious government agency in law school. I worked hard, and I made incredible contacts who encouraged me to apply for a post-grad fellowship. It was 2 years and was basically the only way to work for this agency if you aren’t experienced. I went through 3 rounds of interviews (1 was an 8 member panel) and it dragged on for months until they let me know I was on the waitlist, and then eventually rejected me. I cried for so long.

    BUT the work I did there helped me get my foot in the door at another great job that I’d never even considered. Which turned into a promotion to another job that I didn’t know existed, and is the best possible fit for me imaginable. Hang in there!

  13. Admin. Dreamer*

    Something similar recently happened to me. I thought it was the “dream job” as well but I ended up declining the offer because the salary was 16% less than what I make now. I couldn’t afford the pay cut no matter how great the culture was and the glorious benefits. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener … I am not thrilled with my current position mainly because I’ve been in this role for too long with 2 different companies and I need to break into something a bit more challenging. I was hurt that their offer was so low, but it is what it is. I know my worth and know that if I keep searching something will come through. It’s a tough blow to the ego but you have to dust yourself off and keep on trying. The right position is out there and will be found you just have to keep at it until you find the employer that’s willing to make the commitment to you.

  14. Rachel*

    I hope this story can help: Earlier this year, I was a finalist for a position in another city. The company’s interview process required a lot of extras; custom writing samples, on-site interviews, etc. I had been given really positive feedback from the team. After 5 years in a toxic work environment (followed by a lay-off), I was so excited and relieved at the prospect of this opportunity and devastated when I was informed they had hired someone else.

    Fast forward a few weeks, the company has had a lot of problems for their earlier work with alt-right news propagators, including a great deal of push-back from their more mainstream clients and partners and pretty rapid staffing changes.

    I was able to secure a new job and although it isn’t amazing, I’m comforted to know that I dodged a bullet and at least I’m not working with a business who benefited from clients who are Holocaust deniers and Nazi apologists.

  15. Bend & Snap*

    I went through 11 rounds of interviews for two roles, aided by 4 of my contacts who work at the company.

    I’m over the job but I’m very embarrassed that I used all my leverage with these people, they went out of their way to help and I still didn’t get hired.

    And I don’t know why.

    1. CM*

      If they brought you back for 11 rounds, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You were clearly a very strong candidate, and I’m sure the people who helped you did not assume you would definitely get the job.

  16. KEM110*

    Oh, OP, I feel for you. I am currently at a job where I am so burnt out that I can barely construct an email. The place is toxic. I’ve seen co-workers get out and I struggle getting interviews. I am a finalist for one company and expect to hear back this week….I am preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

    Remember self love- take care of you, and don’t give up.

  17. CM*

    One thing that has helped me is that once I know I’m leaving, I don’t have to care and personally invest so much in my current job. Instead, I can look at the things I need to do to get to my next step and focus on those. As Alison noted, you can build up your resume at your current job as long as you’re staying in the same field. I guess it doesn’t help with mentally moving on from the job you didn’t get, but at least you can mentally move on from the job you currently have.

  18. Aussie Teacher*

    Please remember that sometimes you can be a great candidate that the company would be happy to hire, but then someone else can come along who is also great, AND has desirable skill B, or another skill you hadn’t even considered but could be really useful etc. That’s what just happened to me yesterday – I could have hired 3 of the 6 candidates for a position we had open but our final choice had some extra skills that were too good to pass up. One of the others asked for feedback after I rejected her, and I explained that there was nothing lacking on her part, just that the other candidate had something extra.

  19. 2 Cents*

    Keep your chin up, OP! You made it to finalist!

    I was in your position a few years ago: hated my job, grossly underpaid, just wanted to get out. I interviewed at a place that I’d thought would be my “dream” job. Then they had some manager changes, and I was told, “Thanks, but we’re hiring someone else,” and I stayed at my sad, old desk. 11 months later, that dream company laid off everyone — I would have been out of work. The right job will come along!

    1. JM in England*

      I’ve dodged a few similar bullets during my career too! A fair number of companies that I interviewed with in years past but didn’t get the job have now either gone bust or been taken over…

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I had a phone interview where the interviewer asked what I look for in an employer, and I said something along the lines of “Good, consistent management.” (Seemed reasonable to me and fit in with the discussion.) There were a few beats of silence on the phone, then the interviewer went one.

        A few days later, there was a news article about how this organization (tied to a public utility) was going through organizational changes that sounded like I would not have gotten good, consistent management from them. So, that softened the blow when I didn’t get called in for an in-person interview.

  20. JM in England*

    From personal experience, when looking to leave a toxic workplace, the old adage “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” is a wise one to keep in mind when interviewing….

    1. OP*

      This is what I am trying to avoid. As toxic as my current workplace, I don’t want to accept any job just to get out. Looking back, I skipped warning signs during the interview process at my current job. I don’t want to make that same mistake again!

      1. JM in England*

        OP, I did the same as you in the past. At the time I accepted ToxicOldJob, had been unemployed for quite some time. It was my desperation that played a big part in missing many red flags about both the job and the company.

  21. OP*

    OP here. Thank you so much for the comments and advice! While I am still at my current job since writing in, I am in the middle of the interview process at two companies. I have a third interview at one of the companies on Friday and was asked to complete a writing assessment for another company after two interviews. I’m hopeful that one of these will work out. I think what was most frustrating was feeling like I was starting back at square one after a 3 month interview process. While I continue applying for jobs when interviewing, I am trying to be very selective so I had only applied for a handful of jobs during that time period and didn’t have any other interviews lined up. This job had also reached out to my references, which made it even harder when I didn’t get an offer. It’s disappointing when you think a job will be a great fit, only to not receive an offer because the company thinks someone else may be a better fit! I appreciated the reminder that as a great as I may have thought the job was, there are other opportunities out there, and I won’t be stuck in my current job forever.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I feel your pain, OP. It’s hard to be rejected for jobs that you feel are tailored to your experience. But, it’s often not you, it’s THEM. What do they want? What are the pressures at the organization? Who is driving the decision? Are you a lot like the last person in the role and do they want someone different/SHINY? Is there an internal candidate? And so on.

      When I’m rejected by a position that I was particularly interested in, I try to re-frame it in one or more of the following ways:

      1) Their loss, not mine!
      2) Someone was a better match for what they needed right now than I was
      3) They know something I don’t about the position that would make me a bad fit/unhappy
      4) Possibly dysfunctional org

      Regarding #4, I must admit to having some schadenfreude when seeing the same job announcement pop up again 3-10 months later.

  22. Wacky Teapots*

    Question for the group! When applying for a job with a manager title and you’ve been with the same company for 10 years and began as an administrative assistant, is it bad to say you began your career as an admin?

    1. fposte*

      Hey, Wacky, Alison tries to keep threads germane to the original post here, but the open thread on Friday would be a great place for your post–please repost it there and you’ll hopefully get some good answers.

  23. DottyJ*

    OP – I have to second Alison’s advice “The biggest thing is to remember that you can never really know how good of a fit the job, the company, and the manager might have been” – I was in your exact position a year ago – my workplace had become toxic, I saw what seemed like a great job at a organisation that has seen huge growth and success in a short space of time, the job looked great and I got to the final stages. I was crushed when I didn’t get it. But my colleague went to work there a short while later (different job) and it turns out I dodged a major bullet – crazy crazy boss and terrible HR dept, the person they hired instead of me? He quit after 8 months with no notice and no other job to go to. Thinking back to the interview, I remember they mentioned the person who’d been doing the job had left without notice (just quit on the spot, one month’s notice is the norm in the UK) – I was so excited about the job I just glossed over that, but now TWO people leaving, without notice??

    When I didn’t get the job I decided to ask if they had any feedback – any chance you could still do that? I was lucky and they replied saying that I ticked all the boxes but that the successful candidate had more experience in a particular area of interest to them. So after feeling sorry for myself for about a month I decided to really throw myself into my job – I tried to let as much of the toxicity wash over me and concentrate on doing a great job, showing more initiative, and putting myself forward for different projects where appropriate so I’d get more of the experience they were looking forward.

    Interestingly my current employer noticed and gave me a great promotion a few months back, now that I’m in a decent manager position I’ve actually been able to try and reduce some of the toxicity/infighting in my department at least – don’t get me wrong, it’s still a dysfunctional company I don’t plan on staying in long term but focussing on doing a great job was a great remedy for the confidence blow I’d got from the job rejection and it helped me to get a better job a little down the line. Good luck

    1. Freya UK*

      I’m in the position of being the second person in a row leaving within the probation period at my current role (last day tomorrow). I was candid in a constructive way (hopefully) in my resignation interview – and to be fair, the manager seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying, so I suspect the previous person may have alluded to the same issues. I hope he takes my comments on board and tries to address the issues in some way, as the next person may be more vulnerable (emotionally, financially etc) than me and not able to walk away so easily.

  24. Green Tea Lover*

    OP, I feel you. I have had interviews before where I did not get the job and I felt like my self-esteem hit rock bottom. But this recently happened to me so I hope you don’t lose hope.

    I have been looking for a new opportunity because things at my company have been going downhill (also, my former supervisor decided to give just a 2-day notice and left me with a huge mess). I interviewed at a company that I really like and felt that I was a strong candidate, and I was hoping for an offer real soon. But nothing came through…

    HR did keep me updated and two weeks after the onsite interview (3rd round of interview in the process), she told me that the team has some reorganization that needed to happen first before they can extend any offer. Who knows if that was true, but she also said because they thought I was a good fit to the company, she wanted to see if I was interested to interview for another position there. I said yes and had another interview for another position which requires similar skill set, 1 week after the onsite interview, I received an offer from them and I can now say goodbye to my current company!

    So I guess my message is, don’t lose hope because you never know what might happen along the way. I wish you the very best of luck!

  25. MissDisplaced*

    I know it’s disappointing, but having made it to a final round, you must have been a pretty strong candidate.
    So, think about what went well in the interview and how you can continue to showcase yourself in the best manner for the next one!
    I’ve always noticed that job opportunities seem to move in waves. There will seem like a lot all at once, and then nothing for three months. Don’t know why.

  26. Welp what can you do*

    timely. was just rejected for a job where it came down to the other candidate and myself – and they called my references and decided because the other candidate had more recent references they went with them :( and after the fact told me – so gave me no opportunity to put them in touch with my current manager (and I’ve been in the same job for 4 years, she doesn’t know i’m job searching, I would have had the conversation with her if I had known it was so tight).

    I feel… really disappointed. If I was such a high contender and it was such a big deal to speak to someone who worked with me within idk the last 12 months, why not come back to me and ask for someone. That they didn’t makes me feel disappointed in their hiring practices and feel stupid that I didn’t spoon feed them more information about my references during my interview :(

    1. Belle*

      Sounds to me like poor hiring process. I think they should have told you upfront what type of references they were hoping to reach out to beforehand. Like you said, you could have then had the difficult conversation with your manager or even perhaps a colleague you have worked closely with.

  27. Danae*

    I’m really feeling this. I was a finalist for two positions last week, and I was super excited at the prospect of going back to work–and one of the positions came with a salary that would have been nearly double what I made per year at my last job. Not just that, but both the positions were contract-to-hire, which is something that the large tech company most of my employment history is with never does.

    I didn’t get either of them. One because someone else had more experience in the particular role, the other for reasons unknown. It’s really discouraging, especially because I don’t usually let myself get excited about potential jobs. (The money, though. The money would have been so nice.)

    Onwards! I have a few months before I have to make some hard decisions if I’m not employed, so I am going to continue to work my tail off on getting a new job.

  28. Critter*

    Make a list of everything that went well with the application and interview process. List everything that you have to offer. There’s no one magic bullet to Moving On, and I’m definitely one of those stories where everything turned out for the best (in a LOT of ways), but for years I had a difficult time moving forward while I was trying to find something solid. I’ve learned that you have to train your brain to focus on the positives, and it’s something you have to make a habit. And some days are not going to be great. And that’s okay. Hang in there :)

  29. A. D. Kay*

    I feel this so much. I have been unemployed for nearly three months now. In February I had several great interviews with a small company for a position right in my skill set. They kept promising an offer letter, and kept promising… finally, after nearly three weeks of stalling and renegotiating, they admitted that the CEO had canceled the position. I have a strong feeling that they are going to try to fold in the job duties with those of their admin-marketing person, while of course still paying her only $35K. Anyone can learn to use an extremely complex software package, right?

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