Put “Get Rejected” on your to-do list

Business man hands

I’d like to share a recent rejection experience with you, and why it has been the best thing to happen to my career in the last six months.

I’ll spare you the detail, but I decided to apply for a role that I was pretty sure I was under-qualified for. Although I like to think of myself as high-flying and high-potential I lack the requisite experience and clout required to operate at the next level up in my current organisation.


” organisations can warp your sense of self-worth over time.”


However I felt that this would be a good opportunity to ‘test the water’. What if I was being too hard on myself? What if the other candidates weren’t as strong as me? I’ve been in my current organisation for over four years and one thing I’ve learnt is that organisations can warp your sense of self-worth over time.

I was quickly shortlisted for interview and, to cut a long story short, was informed a few days later that I hadn’t been successful in applying for the role. That was the painful bit. Nobody likes to hear that – unlike Mary Poppins – they’re not “practically perfect in every way.” But the upside to this experience has far outweighed that brief moment of melancholy:


“I had a truly objective -and senior – observer giving me detailed observations about how my strengths and weaknesses come across. If only I could get this kind of feedback more often!”


  • It validated my self-assessment. I have already mentioned that I didn’t think I was ready for the role. Going through this exercise validated my assessment and has focused me on where to develop next.

  • I got great feedback. Great both in the sense that the interview had tons of positive things to say about me, but also in the sense that I had a truly objective -and senior – observer giving me detailed observations about how my strengths and weaknesses come across. If only I could get this kind of feedback more often!


“I like to think that the fact I had to discuss my application with my current boss will have sent a clear message about my ambitions and my willingness to move outside of his team for the right opportunity.”


  • I added the feedback points to my action plan. This interview coincided nicely with annual appraisal activities, and I have incorporated the most salient points into my development plan for the year.

  • I expanded my network. Applying for a role outside my normal area has created a few new connections I didn’t have before, and increased my awareness of the wider organisation.

  • It put me on someone else’s radar. I was able to make a positive impression on someone I would not normally have encountered. So much so in this particular instance that I was offered a job at my current level in the department I had applied to (I declined in this instance). It was a great conversation and empowering to know that I have worth outside my immediate network.

  • It started some useful conversations with my current boss. It’s impossible to say for sure, but I like to think that the fact I had to discuss my application with my current boss will have sent a clear message about my ambitions and my willingness to move outside of his team for the right opportunity. I know my boss values my contribution and I’m hoping this experience will encourage him to ensure I continue to have the right stretch and development.


“I have received positive feedback about my current capabilities and sent clear messages to my current boss about my desire to develop and progress.”


  • It compelled me to refresh my CV and brush up on my interviewing skills. In particular, it helped to highlight to me how different the interview experience is at these senior levels compared to my last interview four years ago for a more junior role.

Going through this has been a cathartic process that has reinvigorated my personal development goals and my drive to succeed. In addition I have received positive feedback about my current capabilities and sent clear messages to my current boss about my desire to develop and progress.

In short, getting rejected has been my best career move in the last six or twelve months.

Don’t delay – get rejected today!


I’m currently experimenting with sketchnotes. Check out the getting rejected sketchnote behind this post!


Image © Simonkr | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. Organizations deliberately try to put you down. People above you have no interest in seeing you develop, as you are becoming a threat to their own position. Your boss will have positive views on your ambitious plans only if he feels comfortable about his progress.

    It’s a social game. And I witness those “social games” all the time in my office. I don’t play a part in them. My main thing is sustaining my current lifestyle while building a legacy for myself.

    There is no resume for me better than http://alphaefficiency.com , but than again, I am moving to USA… Within 6 weeks. So I guess it’s pretty demotivating factor in terms of investing myself wholeheartedly somewhere where I won’t stay for long.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “your boss will only support your ambitious plan if they are comfortable with their own progress.”

      How much you ‘play the game’ does depend on your long-term commitment to the organisation you’re in and the wider corporate environment, but in my experience it can be played well without compromising personal integrity and/or values.

      The key trick is to keep validating your perspective, challenging preconceptions and testing the established boundaries.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: