They don’t want me.
I am unwanted.
No one will want me.
I will never belong.
This is the first in an ongoing PeopleGetters Series where we call out into the great wide open the Shitty First Draft (SFD) stories we tell ourselves as we navigate the unruly waters of being a candidate. SFDs were so-named by two brilliant and badass writers – Anne Lamott and Brene Brown. PeopleGetters is hopeful that by bringing the soul-sucking stories into the light, we can help candidates to reframe their SFD.
Applying for a job, throwing our hat in the candidacy ring, or trying out for a promotion – all require vulnerability, and all demand giving up the illusion of control. It brings to mind that image of the Donkey in Shrek: Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! Being a candidate means opening yourself to rejection. We want to give you some options on how to better deal with rejection.
You might be right – They actually don’t want you.
Oooooh, this definitely doesn’t feel good. A total rejection stinger.
“They” is this group – this company – this assortment of people working at this one organization at this particular time – and “they” have decided that you are not the person they want on their team. Rejection sucks. It never feels good. The sting hurts at first, and then it doesn’t – and it won’t – so long as you don’t let it!
You do have the power to re-live the sting over and over by telling yourself a SFD story that somehow this job rejection is personal – that there is something about you that is “bad” or “unwanted” or “unwelcome”. I’ve said it to my kids a million times, and you need to hear it too: rejection truly is God’s protection. If “they” don’t want you, you don’t want to be with them either. Trust that simple truth. Craft a revamped 2nd draft story that reflects a much better truth: there is another, way better “they” out there waiting for you, and for all your skills, and for all your expertise. You are wanted, and you deserve to be there with those people.
Remember they are likely just doing their best: They don’t know any better.
Most companies and most people inside of companies are trying their best most days. Really, I promise. As a recruiter for 20+ years, I’ve been witness to so many companies and folks who are on the hiring-side of the equation. Rare is the memory of anyone being intentionally dismissive or callous. Most people are simply not that great at either being a “Hiring Manager” or at being a “Candidate”. People struggle with asking hard questions, and people are awesome at avoiding hard conversations. And guess what? Great recruiting requires both! So what happens is that well-intentioned people on both sides of the equation – company and candidate – end up unintentionally harboring bad feelings, or building resentments, or setting unreasonable and un-communicated expectations along the way.
Do yourself a huge favor: tell yourself that everyone is just trying their best. It’s not that “they don’t want me” – it’s that they don’t know any better, and they are just trying their best. This is a much more believable and forgiving story.
# 3 Humility
Realize the vast amount you do not know: You are one person among many.
This requires a vast amount of humility – realizing just how much you don’t know for sure. If you are a job applicant – you are just one of what could be hundreds of people vying for one position. You are a total stranger to the company and to the people that are running the recruiting process there. There could be a total ding-dong wing-wong of a recruiter who is screening resumes, and they might have accidentally rejected you. Yes, this happens! And there is NOTHING you can do about it. There could be like 25 people who possess work histories and profiles that are absolute perfection for what the company is seeking – so you might be 90% on target, but there are other applicants that are simply better. This happens very often. And there is NOTHING you can do about it. If you are a candidate in the interview process, and you are a hardcore Michigan fan and the hiring manager is a hardcore Buckeye fan – I’m telling you, you might get cut from the pool. It does happen. Not often, but possible. You could be a finalist candidate, and the company gets a new CEO who comes in and wants massive change. Your candidacy is put on ice. Again, NOTHING you can do about it.
#4 Authentic Empowerment
Embrace the power you have: You choose your reactions and your thoughts.
Yaaaaassss! This is the real deal stuff here. You actually possess all the important power, all the time. This is also something I tell my kids often – and it applies to the PeopleGetters community just as much as it does in the parenting world – you have the power to choose your reactions and your thoughts. Feel all your feelings, and let them come and go as feelings should. But your reactions and your thoughts? All you. You are the writer of that SFD. You are also the writer of the much better second draft. You are the only author of your story!
You are not alone. For every single person, the candidacy journey is full of anticipation, unknowns, interviews, judgements, decisions, rejections, acceptances, meetings and mistakes. The highs and lows of this journey are universal. With each step of the candidacy journey, you alone get to decide how you react and the story you tell.