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THE JOBS WE DIDN’T GET: Navigating the Unsuccessful Job Pursuits:

The last half of 2023 presented many changes on the work front because of a significant leadership transition. Our CEO of over nine years was set to leave in December, a change that came with lots of transition planning work and new openings for leadership roles.

For the first time in many years, I applied for a higher role and got interviewed but didn’t get the job. If you have been searching for a bigger better job, you get this. It isn't easy, but you are never alone. Like me, many of my colleagues put themselves out there, and many did not get ‘the job.’

I had an interesting reaction to the news. It was like going through the stages of change. I did the denial thing, then came some anger, then bargaining, and then acceptance that ended with self-encouragement. When I was done, I stepped aside and observed how my other colleagues who had applied for jobs were dealing with their news, and here’s what I saw from several candidates;

1. Shock: Some candidates felt highly qualified. There are moments when you assess yourself and those around you, and from your skillsets, experiences, talents, and past performance records, you know you can ace the Job. Even if you know it is an interview, even if you know there are other qualified candidates, a part of you, albeit subconsciously, knows you are the best. But then you don’t get the job, and you stop in your tracks and ask why and how, and that’s when it gets interesting.

2. The reasons don’t make sense: This is the part where hiring managers ought to pay attention more critically. There are often valid reasons why people choose candidate A over all the rest. The discrepancy comes when hiring managers try too hard to find reasons why the others did not get the job. I heard of very interesting reasons from several candidates. The truth is that most of them were equipped to do the job exceptionally well, but usually, the preferred candidates had something that the hiring managers placed a higher value on. I kept thinking about this in terms of dating. When a person chooses who to date, it usually isn’t because they are necessarily the best or the ones without flaws, it is usually because the person brings something that the other considers important, which differs from person to person. Sadly, some candidates were given very sketchy reasons, and I saw people sad, questioning their abilities and, in some cases, the injustice of it all. The fact is, they were amazing, but the hiring managers didn’t connect with what made them great, and that is okay. Or perhaps there were just too many great candidates and not enough positions.

3. Withdrawal: It is human to feel like all your past accomplishments have been in futility. We come to work with Theories; work very hard, and you will be rewarded. So, we give our sweat, blood, and tears, but something happens; you give five years, then 10, and finally, the opportunity presents itself, and you are not seen. It is human to wonder what this is all for; it is human to want to stop giving your best but hold yourself together- find the strength to keep going for the job you signed up for.

Having observed the drama unfold, the season has encouraged me to challenge some of my long-held beliefs and assumptions, and I told myself three things that I want to leave with you, too, should you need it.

1.       Hard Work Alone Is Insufficient: 

For a long time, we were told hard work pays. It does, but it doesn’t pay enough. I recently re-watched the legal series Suits, and someone was comparing Louis Lit and Harvey Specter. Harvey was being paid way more than anyone in the firm because he was a rainmaker,” and Louis, who was a “grinder,” was often overlooked. It isn’t enough just to work hard; you have to be strategic about where you are placing your bets. The gentlemen in my Mastermind group are constantly pushing me to be tactful, to learn the art of advocating for myself, to learn to spotlight my contributions, to call in favours etc. I must confess it is a tough journey for me but if the season has taught me anything, it is that hard work, talent ,and an excellent track record don’t necessarily get you a sit at the table. It is your job and mine to find and spotlight that X factor. It is your job to lobby for what you deserve. It is your job to get people to want to offer you a sit at the table. I am doing my homework. Perhaps I will come back and share.

2.       You Are Inherently Valuable: 

Recognizing that hiring managers have specific visions and often undisclosed criteria for role fulfillment, it's essential to celebrate your inherent value. Beyond what panelists convey, understanding that diverse factors, including regional preferences, team skill set gaps, personality preferences, and other biases, influence decisions can help cope with interview-related setbacks. Please don't take things personally.

3.       Put yourself out there. Again: 

When I applied and got the interview, after a brief moment of hesitation, I worked hard to prepare, and I gave my best at the interview. I received excellent feedback from the panel, but I later learned that the Panel also reflected on my growth over the years. This was quite encouraging. Putting yourself out there could also serve as a reminder to the powers that be, that you are available and interested in growing. I am looking forward to good opportunities coming from this. Another friend also hesitated about a position that had opened, but then he decided he would lose nothing by trying, and he got the Job. You can only imagine what a missed opportunity it could have been if he didn’t try. Let’s always aim to put ourselves out there; you never know when the dice will fall on you.

As I embark on a personal quest to uncover and cultivate the elusive "X factor," I hope you stay vibrant, keep giving your best work, and innovate until you find what you are looking for career-wise.

If you want to share your journey in the corporate space, drop a comment or e-mail us at

This post was written by Brenda Abeja, one of our Coaches, as a reflection of her dual career journey experiences.

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