How to move on when you’re rejected for your dream job…

Just before Christmas I saw my dream role advertised, a position had come up in the communications department of a prominent animal welfare charity. I spent a day overhauling my C.V and crafting the ultimate personable yet professional cover letter. I researched the charity and swotted up on the latest policy and news stories. I sought out the advice of friends who work in the charity sector and I did a bit of sleuthing on LinkedIn to be sure I was targeting my application to the right person. Then I confidently hit send on my application after filling in the lengthy automated recruitment form on their website.

 I followed up at the start of the year as the application deadline passed and patiently waited for a response.

So, when the email came through last week inviting me for an interview, I was really excited. Finally, after over a year of job searching, an opportunity! Hope!

I dutifully did my research and prepped – in a way prepping for an interview during the pandemic is a lot harder than an in-person interview that used to be the norm. Whilst you get to chat from the comfort of your own home this means there are more things to think about than just being presentable, arriving on time and making sure you are prepared; you have to make sure your home is presentable too. Clean, tidy and professional looking, clutter free and perfectly lit!

Not everyone has space for a designated office set up and I opted to create a professional environment in the conservatory, which whilst being absolutely freezing, has the perk of natural lighting that my living room unfortunately doesn’t. It is also usually reserved for plants and this time of year is the designated dumping ground. I turned the side table into a desk, moved the dozen pineapple plants to the side and propped a couple of books on the windowsill just in shot.

I felt fairly confident that I’d given the interview my best shot and whilst it’s difficult to create a connection with interviewers on google teams I enjoyed speaking with them and came away wanting the job desperately. When they told me they’d be in touch by the end of the week, I secretly envisaged a weekend of lockdown celebrating… it all felt just within reach!

I began to picture myself in the role, how happy I would be in such a gratifying position, working at my favourite charity where my ideas would help animals. I envisaged a role I could grow into, a company I would work at for years to come. I excitedly mentioned the interview to my closest friends and family and spent the rest of the week sat by my phone hoping for a positive phone call and frantically refreshing my email for news… and then on Friday it came… the email I had been dreading.

Photo by Luriko Yamaguchi on

I quickly skim-read as the words ‘unfortunately’ and ‘not’ struck out like sharp pangs straight to the heart. Just like that, my bubble had burst, I was rejected from my dream role a mere three days after the interview, there were simply other candidates better suited…

It’s a common tale so, here’s what to do next.

Ugly Cry / Let it all out /Declare the end of the world:

I re-read the email a couple of times and then began to cry hysterically. It is so rare to see in-house media roles advertised in the current climate, let alone to get to interview stage with the competition due to high unemployment. I felt like I’d completely failed at the final hurdle, and even worse I may never get an opportunity like this again! I started panicking again about my financial situation and felt everyone was more skilled than me, I slumped into a big depressive hole and couldn’t see myself ever feeling hopeful again.

It’s normal to wallow, just keep this stage short! Eat a sharing bar of chocolate to yourself, have a three-hour bath, get in bed at 6pm and sleep until noon the next day. Moan that life is over, feel you have failed and never again will you get an opportunity like this, sing Roy Orbison’s ‘It’s Over’ loudly and melancholically but then preferably within 24 hours… move on!

Seek the comfort of loved ones

You’ve likely spoken to a few people about how excited you were about this opportunity and now feel embarrassed to admit you have been rejected but you’ll need your support network to get over it and rebuild your confidence.

I told my friends and my Mum and they told me to keep my chin up, my mother-in-law gave me a brilliant pep talk and told me that I should be proud I’d gotten to interview stage in the current tough environment.

My husband bought me flowers, two big bars of my favourite chocolate and a bottle of Pinot Grigio (I know he’s a keeper that’s why I married him!) and the next night he made home-made pizzas and as I’d finally stopped crying, we cracked open the wine and watched The Masked Singer and after a day of wallowing I distracted myself watching Sir Lenny Henry sing and dance around as a blobby masked monster.

Accept it and move on! Onwards and upwards

Now is the time to dry your tears, stop going on about it and form a plan for the future. Firstly, be sure to reply politely and professionally to the rejection email once you’ve composed yourself and gotten over the initial upset. You may receive helpful feedback that will put you in a stronger position for the next opportunity. If you’ve been able to build a bit of rapport you could also ask the interviewer or HR representative to connect on LinkedIn widening your network and meaning you may see future vacancies immediately when they are posted.

Use this experience to learn and widen your network, rejection is tough especially in the current climate but after a weekend of consolation, be sure to continue with your job hunt. You never know what is around the corner.

I’ve started researching similar charities and registered for job alerts at them all, what I have learnt by how disappointed I felt is that this really is a career path I’d like to go into and the emotional reaction I had to the rejection proved that I am passionate and so the hunt continues! Wish me luck!

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