Obviously, you’re not likely to win (capture) every job you apply for during your job search, any more than you will win every game you play outside of work that involves competition. The odds are against achieving 100% success all the time. So sometimes you are going to lose the job search game and maybe in a situation where you really wanted or needed to win.
Jon Gordon often has thought-provoking entries in his motivational blog, and a recent one really caught my attention because it offered a fresh take on the “it’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game” philosophy. Jon states that both winning and losing matter, but that “in life what matters most is what we do with our wins and losses.”
Jon maintains that you’re ahead of the game if you refuse to give up after a loss and instead respond in a way that makes you stronger. He has developed a concept that he and his family follow, called LOSS (Learning Opportunity, Stay Strong). This is more than a touchy-feely concept that has little meat behind it. It’s something anyone–including disappointed job seekers–can practice and put to good use.
You might actually be able to minimize your overall losses and disappointments in employment situations, at least to some degree. One useful job search tip is to scope out the lay of the land before you go after a particular opportunity. For instance, if you know or can connect with someone who has insider information, you might find out that the company’s CFO already has his or her eye on a candidate and is only going through the motions of publicizing the position. In that case, you could still decide to pursue the opportunity but might not put your full effort behind it as you would for a situation where you stood a better chance of being seriously considered.
If the best information you are able to obtain indicates that the opportunity you’re interested in is valid and it seems like a really good fit for your experience and talents, you probably have a good reason to go after it. That said, if you make it to an interview–maybe even to the second or third round of interviews–and end up losing out on the job, it’s natural to experience substantial disappointment. In some situations, you might even feel devastated, possibly because you had an overwhelming impression that you did exceptionally well in the interviews, were actually somehow led to believe that a job offer was imminent or just badly needed the job for some reason.
You can’t totally avoid disappointment or a great sense of loss in such situations, but you can reduce the likelihood and extent of it by choosing which battles you’re going to “fight” (which job openings to pursue) and how much effort you’re going to invest in those battles.
Did you make any mistakes at all in the situation where you lost a job opportunity you believed you had a strong chance of winning–say by somehow blowing an interview? Ask yourself that question each time and focus on identifying the honest answer–this isn’t something you’re doing for public consumption but to help yourself improve your odds for the next time. Even the best of us can make mistakes, take a misstep that we seriously regret afterward. If you did that, acknowledge it to yourself. Then figure out how you can try to avoid the same problem in your next job interview and keep it from happening again as you continue your job search. While life doesn’t hold any guarantees, this approach might just increase your win-rate and help you land the job of your dreams.