One of the most important realizations I had after graduating is that the job application process is a lot like dating. You prepare as best as you can, you check out your options, and you always try to make the best decision possible for your life. There are ups and downs, and most likely, there will be feelings of confusion along the way.
Lesson one: Rejection isn’t always rejection.
When I first graduated and started applying for jobs, I immediately called my mentor to ask what I was doing wrong. I walked him through every step of my process, waiting for the “eureka” moment where he would point out the mistake in my actions.
To my surprise, he sent me a three-digit number, which I’d soon learn was the exact number of applications he sent out before finding his dream job.
The biggest lesson he taught me during this talk is that as much as you are “dating” these companies, these companies are “dating” you, too. By this, I mean that you cannot take every "no" from an organization as a form of rejection.
A "no" can come when you are overqualified for a role and the recruiting manager realizes it before you do. A "no" can come when the hiring team realizes that they’re not ready for a long-term relationship with potential employees.
"No’s" can come from your side of the deal when the company’s culture just doesn’t sit well with your ethics and values. I encourage you to take this two-way dating approach on to reframe your role as an applicant. Be confident in what you’re looking for in a new job, know that you’re allowed to ask your interviewer difficult questions, be comfortable negotiating your salary and know that it’s OK to walk away if you need to.
Lesson two: It’s OK to take a break.
When you are a few months into the job application world, one of the most discouraging phone updates is receiving emails informing you that you did not receive the job you applied for.
An experience that is almost worse than this is being “ghosted” after an interview you thought went well, leaving you with no update or notification that you were not their pick for the job.
Dating fatigue or dating burnout often comes when you are no longer enjoying the dating process and your once ambitious endeavor feels like an added chore to your life. If your application process starts to feel like having a second job, it is likely time to embrace your job hunting or “dating burnout” and take a break. With this, give yourself permission to turn off notifications, delete apps and simply rest. With the corporate world continuing to grow with the world around us, maintaining your mental health is an essential piece of you being ready for the golden opportunity when it comes your way.
Lesson three: You only need ONE yes.
The most valuable lesson that the application process has taught me is that it only takes one yes to reroute your journey.
When you approach every door of possibility with the idea that you will knock and push and break the door down if needed, you’ll gain a sense of exhaustion and a sense of loss at every door that doesn’t give in to your efforts.
Take on each door of opportunity with the knowledge that the door meant for you will open for you, it will meet your actions and efforts with a welcome letter, a starting salary that you deserve and a team to support the next step in your career journey.
That one “yes” will be worth every step of your application process.
That one “yes” will give you the ability to mentor the next early career professional, who will see your steps as the navigation to their roadmap.