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!