Banner Default Image


Ask Lawrence: When Your Dream Job Tells You "No."

13 May 00:00 By Lawrence Akers

When Your Dream Job Says No

Inevitably at some point in our lives, we apply for a job, we get the job interview(s), and we’re unsuccessful.

This can often be a crushing defeat for people, especially when we’re really excited and have an opportunity at ‘the dream job’.

I want to share with you two quick stories from my own past experiences here.

Years ago… in fact, MANY years ago, I used to work in the music industry.

At one point there, I was asked to come in and interview for a position with an international record label.

I actually knew one of the senior members of the company as a friend, and the interview felt more like me talking about that friendship than anything to do with my experience within the music industry.

I was unsurprised to discover that I didn’t get that job, however what I learned much later was that I had actually been their #1 choice but they decided at the last moment that they really wanted a girl over a boy.

Fast forward a couple more years and I had an opportunity to work for EMI - the dream company for me.

This was during the 90s when Britpop ruled supreme and EMI had incredible artists like Blur, David Bowie, Pet Shop Boys, and of course, The Beatles on their roster.  When I say my dream company, I absolutely meant it.  On top of that, I knew the team there and would often go in there on one of my days off and hang with the crew; some of whom are still good friends of mine to this day.  Everything about this company was just perfect for me.

Even though I knew that I was more experienced than what the job required, I was still desperate to get my foot in the door with this incredible company that had, in my opinion, the ultimate roster of artists.

Again, I was unsuccessful however I did have EMI Australia’s head call me to tell me the news himself.  Clearly, a label that was a class act in every way.  In his own words, I would’ve become very bored in that role and that would’ve impacted on my experience with the company as a whole.  I hate to admit it, however he was right.

The point of these two stories; we can often assume the worst when we’re unsuccessful with our job interviews.  We can often make out that there is a massive difference between the person who was successful and ‘the rest’ however the truth is often that, in my experience, it can often be the smallest of things that impact on the decision making process.

It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck.  Of course it does.  However you can’t blame an organisation for making ‘the best hire’ in regards to what they believe in going to work best in terms of both skill and cultural fit.

So how do you take the experience of being told you were unsuccessful and put a positive spin on it?

Perhaps consider if what was missing is something that is a teachable moment.  Was your presentation less than your best?  Is there a skill set that you could learn and improve upon?  You were clearly a potential for the role or else you wouldn’t have been shortlisted and interviewed, so what else could you improve upon moving forward to make you even more irresistible for the position?

If this job wasn’t meant to be for you, keep in mind that life has the habit of redirecting you to where you need to go.  If I had stayed in the music industry, it is highly likely that I would’ve missed out on a successful career in creative recruitment that I’m now close to two decades in.  It also may have meant that I might not have developed the side interest in psychology and coaching that is leading me in even more directions.  

Ultimately it is about believing in yourself and knowing what you have to offer.  Just because you didn’t get this job doesn’t mean that you’re not good at what you do.  You still have experience, skills and insight that can value an organisation regardless of if the opportunity you went for was able to see your full potential or not.  Have a goal and vision in mind, continue to make decisions in your career based on that direction, and believe that you have what it takes to get there.  The challenges will often present an opportunity to learn and improve for those open enough to take those insights and work with them, and know that, with action, you will end up where you are supposed to be.