How many of you have felt incompetent, discouraged, incapable, and just plain stupid after getting rejected from a job or internship that you were determined and passionate to attain? This may be a long shot, but I’m gonna go ahead and guess — everyone? Now, tell me — does the following sound familiar?
- You search a myriad of career websites for jobs/internships.
- You find the perfect job that pays well, is EXACTLY what you were looking for, has the perfect date/time frame, and will provide you with relevant experience for a potential career path, etc.
- So, you polish your resume, CV, cover letter, and other documents.
- And…SCORE! You get a call back for an interview.
- You begin to research the company and the position, buy interview clothes (which may be a bit expensive), and record yourself answering typical interview questions on your laptop for practice.
- After completing the interview and waiting anxiously for a response on whether you got the job or not, you get notified that you did not get the job.
Let’s be honest — the only way to not feel rejected, incompetent, incapable, discouraged, and just plain stupid is to not be human. In other words, it is completely normal and inevitable to feel this way. In fact, it is probably not normal if we didn’t feel this way. The feeling of social validation is innate to social beings, and when we don’t receive that validation, we automatically feel as though there is something wrong with us. Subsequently, we will experience Cognitive Dissonance — the psychological discomfort we feel when we vacillate between two beliefs that contradict each other. For instance, in order to assuage our feelings of disappointment, we will convince ourselves that the job was not a good match for us, when in fact, somewhere in our minds, we believe that it was the perfect fit. I’m not here to act like a self-help guide. So, rather than giving advice on how to relieve these feelings, I will discuss some of the proactive steps that will encourage, rather than discourage the next job hunt. The topics I will ponder will revolve around how to maintain open mindedness and positivity throughout the job search process, regardless of the countless rejections we may receive.
Being a third-year Psychology student, in addition to working as a Peer Advisor at the UCLA Career Center, has provided me with insight into possible career paths, such as Counseling, Human Resources, Organizational Development, Marketing, etc. However, just the other day, while I was listening to my professor lecture in my Social Cognitive Neuroscience course, I began to contemplate some other options — like graduate school. I had not thought about pursuing a Ph.D in Psychology ever since my first year at UCLA (back when I was completely naive of what research in Psychology was like). What triggered this thought was the moment I realized that I would no longer be taking Psychology courses after I graduate. This made me become aware of the fact that I may, in fact, want to continue studying a subject I was passionate about. Don’t get me wrong — this thought did not convince me to go to graduate school. Rather, it allowed me to see my future in an increasingly open-minded manner. I decided to not limit my options in terms of what I think I can do, and what others tell me to do, but rather what I would like to do, and what I would want to spend the rest of my life doing. And that’s precisely the mindset we should have when we begin our job search.
Personally, I noticed that I was limiting my options entirely based on the suggestions that others were giving me. Assuming that many students experience this as well, it is essential to be aware of the influence that others, whether it be your peers, parents, siblings, professors, or mentors, have on you. Instead of following the suggestions of others, who have a limited understanding of your interests, skills, and personality, you must follow your own suggestions. You must take into account the fact that the only person you are truly real with is yourself. With that being said, it may seem counterproductive to put great emphasis on other people’s recommendations, when they don’t even have the accurate reflection of you. That’s not to say that you should not listen to others’ advice and guidance. However, you must understand that in the end, the decision is yours, and your decision should not be based solely on what someone else tells you to do.
To stay positive throughout the job search process, it is essential to understand how to begin the process. The probability of getting a job by blindly sending out resumes is very low. For this reason, to increase the chances of attaining a job you are passionate about, you must network, follow-up, research, and prepare as much as possible.
Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job:
- Build your professional network – when you have the opportunity to connect with an employer, TAKE IT.
- Research different companies and the positions they offer.
- Look through various job search sites – there are MANY!
- Perfect your resume, cover letter, CV, and/or any other requested documentation.
- Brush up on your interviewing skills – mock interviews, record yourself answering typical questions, and keep practicing.
It is definitely not a guarantee that these tips will get you a job. This is the moment where you will experience those feelings of negativity, disappointment, rejection, and incompetence. And here’s where it’s tough to maintain the positivity. The important thing to do is to be aware of these feelings and to embrace them; they are completely normal and “human.” Once you become aware of them, you can work to alter them. When/if you receive a rejection email or phone call, it is entirely “human” to hate the recruiter and believe that he or she is simply a horrible person who is out to get you (Fundamental Attribution Error — look it up!). And that is definitely not the case. So, rather than believing that he or she is just plain mean, you can respond in a professional manner by simply thanking them for the opportunity, and asking for tips on how to improve. The recruiter may be impressed by your response and give you information on other job postings that you can apply for. In that way, you will not only be provided with an opportunity to improve yourself, but you will make a successful connection with a recruiter whom you may want to get in touch with in the future!
Finally, let’s face it — we can’t get everything we want. In fact, sometimes we should seek failure. It is the only way we can grow and be the best that we can be!
Here are some resources the UCLA Career Center offers that might help your job search. Make sure to check them out!
- Career Counseling
- Mock Interviews
- Resume/Cover Letter Critiques
- Career Fairs
Visit our website, career.ucla.edu, to learn more about our services! Also, don’t forget to like us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!