Failing? Congratulations!


Perhaps you’re one of those people who was fortunate enough to have your mom or dad help you land your first job. Maybe they called the local newspaper and said you’d deliver papers or told their friends you would be only to happy to babysit. Ring any bells?

Then as you got older it was a friend who told their manager at a local restaurant about you and the friend said all you had to do was meet the boss and you were in. Or in your case was it a friend of the family who had a small business and offered you a job working for them which you jumped at? No matter what the specific example is, many people get their early jobs this way.

Now sure it’s true that in many cases it’s not what you know but who you know. Knowing people and more to the point, being known to people can and often does get you a good head start on job leads and opportunities for advancing yourself in the world of work.

There’s a huge downside of course; many people who have job offers laid before them without having to look for work on their own don’t truly understand the effort it takes to identify the right jobs, put forth the effort to get themselves in front of an interviewer on their own and then successfully demonstrate they are the right candidate and close the deal. These are the people who in this very competitive job search market are still claiming that getting a job is easy; having themselves always got the jobs they applied to.

I can’t really blame them to be honest for thinking that finding work is easy. I mean if that’s been their personal experience time and time again, it’s logical that they would assume anyone else should have a similar experience to their own if they really tried. Ah but we know the old saying about assuming don’t we? When you assume you make – well – you know.

The ones who lack those in helpful places, whose parents didn’t have the right connections or go out of their way to help their children get jobs may have in some cases provided their children with a great service. The school of hard knocks is a great teacher, although if you ask many people who aren’t getting the advantages in life, they would often tell you that a break here or there wouldn’t go unappreciated.

Here’s the thing though; the key to moving ahead and getting better at anything is not to avoid failing but rather to learn from each setback so the same mistakes aren’t repeated. Failure itself is pretty much inevitable. You’re going to apply for jobs and be rejected or you’re not applying to as many jobs as you should. You’re likely to put in an offer on a home and lose out to someone else, bid for an item at an auction and be outbid, be tempted to buy something in a store only to realize you overpaid when you discover a lower price elsewhere that a little research would have revealed.

While failure isn’t something we usually celebrate and share with everyone the same way we might share our successes, failure itself can be a great teachable moment. “What”, you should ask yourself, “can I learn from this experience?”

The difference you see between those who ultimately succeed and those who continue to fail is not that some never fail in the first place, it’s simply that some think about the failure and take away a lesson while others brush it off and continue to make the same decisions and act the same way. If you continue to do what you’ve always done and expect different results, that’s probably not going to happen. If you really want different outcomes; positive outcomes, you’ve got to learn, make adjustments, act differently and then test your new approach and gauge the results.

Yes looking for work will likely have an element of frustration attached to it. You will be rejected from many jobs you apply to and this is normal in markets where there are more job seekers than there are available jobs. When passed over in favour of others who are successful, it’s hard not to take things personally because after all it’s you that has to deal with the rejection. However, when 75 people apply for a single job, there will be 73 people in addition to you who are not successful and only one person who gets hired. Looking at things this way, it’s not personal at all but rather a numbers game.

One idea is to ask others for feedback and be open and receptive to what they have to say. Don’t defend yourself or get your back up because that valuable feedback is what you need to hear. Think about what others tell you and consider making some changes. Ask for feedback on your cover letter, resume, language (vocabulary, spelling and writing skills), clothing choices, first impressions, interview answers, etc.

Find out how others perceive you and then decide what, if anything, you would like to change in yourself to come across to others in the ways you would like to be seen.

Remember we all fail. It might be a test in school, a driver’s exam, winning someone’s attention, a game we play. Real failure is losing the valuable lesson that goes with the experience.

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One thought on “Failing? Congratulations!

  1. So much job search advice these days says it’s definitely who you know. You have to know what you jobs you want, yes, but you also have to know the right people. From what I am reading, those who don’t know the right people don’t stand a chance of getting a job. Getting feedback is good, but most employers won’t give feedback. They are not inclined to go out of their way for applicants, as they are too busy This is what job coaches or knowledgeable friends are for.

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