DC Marketing Job Seekers, How Do You Deal with Disappointment?

by Susan Mullin

Whether you’re an experienced marketing director or you’re new and looking to find a communications job opening, you have no doubt experienced job search disappointment.

One of the most challenging aspects of looking for a new marketing, communications or PR position—here in DC or anywhere for that matter—is dealing with rejection and job search disappointment. You really wanted the job; it was not offered to you. It is almost always part of the process, but it never gets any easier,  whether you are just starting out or have several years of experience.

Nobody likes to be told “no,” but it’s how you deal with the disappointment that makes all the difference in your ability to move forward. The next time a door closes, consider these lessons TorchLight’s experienced marketing and communications recruiters have learned over many years of working with Washington, DC area candidates and the region’s top companies.

Ask for Feedback

Hopefully you have an open line of communication with the hiring manager. If so, ask what you could have done better. Remember that this can be a loaded question, and it usually only makes sense to ask for feedback after an in-person interview. Consider sending an email thanking them for their time and asking if they would be willing to provide any feedback. If they agree, and you have the opportunity to speak on the phone or in person, be prepared with a few direct questions that focus on yourself.

(For example: “Were there specific skills I did not have that your top candidate had?”)

This isn’t the time to rehash specifics about the role, company or why they made a mistake by not hiring you. Take the criticism as an opportunity to learn and grow. Be open to hearing honest critique and refrain from being defensive. Remain courteous throughout the process – it’s important to not burn bridges because you never know what could happen! Express your continued excitement about the company and let them know you would be interested if other opportunities become available.

Learn From Each Opportunity

Once you have feedback, take what you learn and apply it. If you aren’t able to gain direct feedback, ask yourself what you could have done better. Did they seem hesitant about certain skill sets? Did they probe on particular personality considerations? Or did everything go south based on salary expectations? Taking notes right after an interview can also help you evaluate different points where you may have been weaker. Create a list of specific things you can do better next time.

Sometimes you can even gain helpful information based on learning about who they did hire. You might know someone inside the organization or perhaps you can find out through LinkedIn. Did they promote someone from within? What kind of background did the new hire possess? Be careful not to play the comparison game – this isn’t meant to stir jealousy – but sometimes you can lessen job search disappointment by realizing why someone else was simply a better fit.

Rethink Your Parameters

If doors keep closing, it might be time to reconsider the kind of opportunities you are seeking. Are you possibly looking in the wrong places? Maybe you have found that certain companies aren’t a good cultural fit or perhaps your salary expectations are too high. You may have thought you wanted to work at a large organization, but now you think a smaller business would be a better fit. This doesn’t mean you need to settle, but it might mean that you need to reassess your job search. Sometimes you may need to narrow your scope or you may find that you need to expand your search. Throughout the process of searching for a new role it’s important to constantly evaluate your targets and make adjustments as you go.

Stay Positive

Keep approaching your job search with optimism. It’s hard to not let the disappointment of lost opportunities creep into your outlook. If you aren’t careful, that frustration can easily taint future interviews. Don’t grow weary. Once you have considered how you can improve, stop analyzing the lost opportunity and move on. Accept that this wasn’t the right opportunity for you right now. If you need to recover from a big disappointment, take some time to regroup. Go back to your original goal and stay focused on the end result. Remember that this is part of the process, and it is actually getting you one step closer to landing your dream job!

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