Like most of my peers, I've found joy in my work and have had few interests outside my career. Subsequently, there was a time that my emotions and self-worth were entangled with the approval (or rejections) I received in my personal job search or career decisions. As I've navigated my recruitment career, I've learned the art of detachment, which has helped to increase my confidence and ability to achieve more favorable results in search to find rewarding opportunities.
A sense of personal failure (or even shame) about your performance can cloud your judgment, allowing desperation to drive your career decisions rather than long-term strategy. With attachment comes a powerful urge to control the circumstances, and there is a downside of being too emotionally invested in any job search. To put it simply, by attaching your happiness, existence, or life's meaning too deeply with your work (or anything else for that matter), you put yourself at risk of ignoring factors outside of your control that play into every job opportunity. There is always a chance that our effort will not guarantee things working out the way we planned.
While these feelings are natural, letting the things you feel passionate about dictate your mood, energy levels, and overall enthusiasm towards life is not a very healthy approach as you are relying on something external that is not entirely under your control. Making an effort to see things objectively without prejudice or attachment is key. This process can be called Upeksha, a form of emotional detachment that can be leveraged when you choose to avoid the negativity associated with job rejection and help you avoid the unnecessary distractions of poor self-talk.
As a job seeker, you should not invest your energy into grieving job rejection as a form of failure. Instead, examine the root cause of your emotional reaction and how it affects you. Establishing a concrete reason why you're doing it in the first place helps regulate your emotions and refocuses your energy on the things you can control rather than the factors you cannot. While you can always exercise some level of control over what happens in your life, it will never eliminate the possibility of your plans and ambitions not quite turning into reality.
Assuming you meet the minimum qualifications for the roles you are applying for, many factors can impact your job search that are entirely out of your control. Consider these scenarios the next time you receive a notice that you're not the chosen candidate to help you remain objective and unattached to the outcomes of your job search.
The position description was filled with "feel good descriptions" and does not accurately portray the realities of the role. Feel good requirements are how Major, Lindsey & Africa's Founding Partner, Robert Major describes some of the general requirements we find in any position description, such as strong communication skills, business acumen, and "must be a team player" – While they represent the most desirable characteristics of a well-rounded professional, it's all the things that weren't said that causes the most confusion and feelings of rejection once the employer has sent the general email that says, "Thank you for your time; however, we will be moving forward with other candidates." There was more that they were looking for but couldn't articulate in a job description and likely still can't at this moment of selection. Detachment from this scenario looks like reframing your thoughts to believe that you and this organization were not the right fit for each other at this moment and time.
As of February 2021, there are 9.97 million unemployed persons in the U.S. The probability that you share similar career goals and geographic locations with thousands of professionals competing for the same role is high. Companies like Amazon once received more than 200,000 job applications for its 30,000 open positions pre-pandemic; the number has likely doubled for them (and other companies) as the U.S. still has 10 million fewer jobs now than before the pandemic. Temper your expectations as hiring professionals continue to work out any kinks in their processes to meet higher than normal market demands. They have likely received more resumes than they know what to do with, and your resume may not make it to the top of their overwhelming pile.
There are millions of working professionals questioning the fate of their current roles or their company's ability to sustain the economic implications of the global pandemic. Like you, they too are exploring ways to position themselves to achieve job security – exploring different opportunities in and out of their current companies. With favorable research and financial savings associated with the concept of "promoting from within", it is possible that your "dream job" was filled internally and only advertised outside of the company to meet federal or company-wide compliance standards established around their hiring practices.
Does any of the above help you find a job? – No, however, it does help with finding and maintaining your inner peace while you continue your search. There is no reason to internalize the absence of news or confuse their lack of response with your performance or lack thereof. Take a step back from your emotions and remember many unspoken factors play into every job opportunity. Resist negative talk, manage your expectations, and know that detachment can lead to your overall physical and mental well-being. In the meantime, your newfound energy will attract the right career opportunity in due time.