You do not currently have an interview

19 Jul

“We received many qualified applications for this position. We reviewed your information carefully and will not be considering you further at this time.”

“We decided to go in a different direction.”

“Unfortunately, we have filled the position and are no longer interviewing at this time.”

“Although we were impressed by what you have to offer, we are unable to offer you a position at this time. We received applications from over 100 candidates, most of whom would make a strong contribution to our work.”

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer you a position at this time.”

“If you see another suitable opportunity posted in the future we would encourage you to apply.”

“You do not currently have an interview.”

These are some of the many ways that I have been rejected from jobs. I suspect that I’ve been rejected by even more, but they never responded so I can only guess. Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: up until a few months ago, I had pretty much never been rejected for anything. I applied early decision to college and was accepted there, I was chosen for fellowships that I needed in order to do summer internships, and I was hired for all of the internships and leadership positions I applied for while in college.

The only instances of rejection that stand out in my memory include when I was 8 years old and auditioned for a community theater production, when I was in high school and I didn’t make the Junior Worlds Ultimate Team, and a single scholarship in college. I can admit freely that I was devastated by each of these rejections, despite the apparent facts that I had no acting experience, was never going to be a superstar ultimate player, and someone else probably needed that scholarship much more than I did.

As much as I don’t believe that the United States is a meritocracy, where anyone can make it as long as they are willing to work hard, I’ve always harbored a belief in my own personal and inevitable meritocracy; if just work hard enough, harder than anyone else, then I have to succeed. This isn’t because I think that I’m completely exempt from the workings of the world, although the privileges that come along with being a white, middle-class, cisgender, and able-bodied person do shift the workings of the world in my favor. Rather, it’s that I hold myself to such a high standard of achievement and I place much of my own sense of myself in those achievements.

So, with this track record and fear of rejection, I remember thinking a few years ago about applying for jobs and how disappointing it must be to not get hired for a job you really want. What if it’s the perfect job and you don’t get it? I didn’t know if I could handle being rejected for my “dream job.” Clearly, I did not understand how the job search process worked or the state of the economy.

Now that I’ve applied for many jobs that I really wanted and been rejected by all of them (so far), I’ve developed a different attitude towards rejection. It still hurts to be told, at least indirectly, that my skills, hard work, and personality aren’t right for a job that  I think I’m perfect for. Often, I do take it personally and wonder what is wrong with me. Other times, I respond with anger and resentment towards the people who were hired or even towards friends of my who I perceive as working less hard than me to find a job and still get one (sorry friends, I really do love you, but sometimes I can’t help envying you).

But on the whole, I’ve realized that I just can’t afford to respond to every rejection with so much emotion. I would never stop being upset! And how am I supposed to feel confident in myself if I view every rejection as a personal failure? So I’ve become more hardened toward rejection, more nonchalant about that little email or phone call informing me that this job opportunity is not the right one for me. I won’t lie, it has been challenging but ultimately very important for me it to deal with this rejection. I hope that I don’t continue being rejected indefinitely, but I’m glad that I am being forced to view myself through my skills, potential, and passion rather than through my job offers.

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