Bouncing back when you don’t land your dream job
It’s common to get your hopes up about a job that seems perfect — and to feel defeated if it doesn’t come through. Taking a moment to wallow is natural. But one of the best ways to overcome the disappointment is to take action. Start by putting your rejection into context. Look back on some of your past disappointments — we’ve all got them — and reflect on how they made other things possible for you. Then, channel your frustration into motivation. For example, if you were turned down because you lacked certain skills or experience, learn that computer language or get the certification. You can also think about alternate ways to achieve your goal. Is there a competitor who recruits for similar positions? Are there adjacent roles that might still be a fit? Also, make sure to stay on the company’s radar. Join their mailing lists or set up a news alert so you know about company events or other job openings. And make it clear to your contact that you remain interested in the company. You never know when a different role might open up.
(This tip is adapted from “You Didn’t Land Your Dream Job. Now What?,” by Dorie Clark.)
Get noticed by upper management
What do you do when you’re ready for a new challenge, but you’re not getting the opportunities you want — and you don’t want to go over your boss’s head? Your first move should be to demonstrate your commitment to the company. Tell your boss that you’re interested in taking on special projects, ones that will both help the company reach its goals and provide you with an opportunity to stretch yourself. Another option is to look for opportunities to collaborate across the organisation. When you build connections, you expand your network of allies and increase your visibility and influence. And don’t be afraid to ask directly for opportunities. While you don’t want to push too hard, showing initiative is usually seen as a good thing. Explain why you believe you can make a valuable contribution, as well as what you will gain from the opportunity. Ultimately management will want to put you in a spot where you can do the most. Sometimes you’ve got to identify where that is and ask for it.
(This tip is adapted from “How to Get Noticed by Your Boss’s Boss,” by Melissa Raffoni.)
Managing a shameless self-promoter
Every good manager wants team members who are smart, skilled and ambitious. But what if one of your employees spends too much time marketing themselves to senior leaders or takes sole credit for your team’s work? You don’t want to look insecure, but you need the person to put the team before his or her own agenda. First, be objective. Is his self-promotion hindering performance? If he is distracted from his day job, remind him of his responsibilities. Second, manage your own self-doubt. Don’t be vengeful or self-critical. Third, be consistent in your feedback. Make clear what self-promotional activities are acceptable, and don’t make exceptions or treat employees differently. Fourth, don’t fall into the trap of competing with your employee. Competition that stems from positive, shared intent can be constructive, but when it’s based on anxiety, you might end up sabotaging your employee and yourself. And finally, consider whether there is anything you can learn from your employee.
(This tip is adapted from “What to Do If Your Employee Starts to Outshine You,” by Nihar Chhaya.)
Weigh the risks when choosing your first job
Choosing your first job can be daunting, especially in an uncertain economy. Should you aim for a job that’s safe, say at a superstar firm, or one that’s a bit more risky with greater upside, say at a promising start-up? It’s important to weigh the risks. Working at a superstar firm may feel more stable, but you often have to navigate bureaucracy and politics. It can also be harder to gain recognition, be entrepreneurial, and move forward within the firm. Going to a start-up offers upsides if it’s the next Google, but most start-ups fail. Still, in a smaller firm you are likely to be less boxed into a certain role, have more responsibility and learn new skills. Another option is a middle-of-the-pack company that is more likely to give opportunities to a young, ambitious person short on credentials. What’s right for you depends on your risk tolerance, your income needs, and what you can get. And remember, odds are this first job won’t be your last.
(This tip is adapted from “How to Weigh the Risks When Choosing Your First Job,” by Allison Schrager.)
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, December 9th, 2019