John (not his real name), a 28-year-old law school graduate, was beyond pissed off when he walked into my psychotherapy office in Brooklyn. He had just been turned down for an analyst position at AIG after his fourth interview in the reinsurance industry this year. His Facebook fantasy, the one in which he shares the grand news “I’m hired,” was demolished—along with his ego.
John just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t chosen for the job: The interviewers seemed to like him a lot. He was fully qualified. He had connections at the firm and, most importantly, when we met for our initial session, John said, “It was a rough year.” He felt he “really deserved a break.”
Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. The bottom line is: getting dumped sucks. Getting dumped by a potential employer is demoralizing with a twist of financial impact (#bittercocktail). John, however, was too busy licking his wounds to constructively understand where he was responsible for the rejection and how to deal with it, and how to face it the way the candidate who got the job would.
You have to be living under a rock if you don’t agree that the job market is competitive. But let’s not focus on the economy, your parents, the “unique” stress of the millennial generation, or Mercury in retrograde. Whatever the reason, you didn’t get the offer. Here’s the thing: the best place to look—when things don’t go according to plan—is at yourself.
All of the justifications you have for why you weren’t the “chosen one” are probably true. It sucks to be a millenial. And yes, the guy who did get the job is sleeping with the hiring manager. So what? You’re not looking at your responsibility in the matter. As a result, you feel defeated and cannot move forward. You can’t get back on the job- search horse. Wanna be successful? Or wanna give up? The choice is yours—not AIG’s, the reinsurance industry’s, the hiring manager’s, or Mom’s.
Stop playing the blame game because it’s only going to screw you up, especially in this case, where the “Oh, cruel world!” anger is only going to stop you from being the best version of yourself—the person they want to hire.
Here’s my advice on how to take responsibility, move forward and get the job:
1. After age 26, stop blaming Mom for your bad luck.
2. Recognize that there is no master plan against you being devised by the universe.
3. It’s not fair. But the truth is, it never was. Not in the 60s, the 80s, or the 00s. Not for you, not for me.
4. You are allowed to feel upset when things don’t go your way. So, go ahead and wallow in self-pity. But, put a time limit on it. (Actually choose a date and time). Only then can you move on and be your most powerful self—and land the next job.