What I Learned From Jobs I Didn’t Get

A close friend of mine is a recent university grad and still desperately looking for a job. He’s doing all the right stuff; going to job fairs, getting advice on improving resumes and cover letters, volunteering in all of his free time, constantly improving himself. Why is it that some people seem to have jobs just fall into their laps while others work their hole off for everything?! Despite all his efforts, he isn’t getting any bites.

I’d like to consider myself fairly lucky in the job department. Anytime I’ve wanted a job, I’ve gotten one. I’m a fairly tenacious woman who, when I decide I want something, I find a way to have it. I do my best to see through failures and learn from mistakes. When I was young, 15-16 years old, I started the job hunt after I promised mom my grades wouldn’t suffer. I made up a resume, having friends and family double and triple check it before I headed out. I had zero experience in the interview department so it scared me. I ended up applying and gaining interviews for four jobs before I landed my first job, each ”Sorry, we’ve decided to go with someone else” phone call gave me a set of new skills that I applied to the next interview until I had enough interview skills to land a job I wanted.


The first thing I learned, was to be confident in speaking. Even if you’re scared shitless, fake it. Fake it until you make it to be exact. I’m not suggesting you lie about anything but even if you don’t feel confident going into an interview you can’t let them know it! Put on a game face as if you’re ready to nail the interview. Only speak about topics you know and if you’re asked questions on a matter you don’t know the answer to, confidently answer the question in such a way the ensures them even though you don’t have an answer now, you’ll find one. Give them no doubt about your abilities to get things done.

Don’t be desperate

There’s no bigger professional turn off than to come across as being desperate. Even if you’re interviewing for your dream job, stay calm, cool and collected. During my first job interview I pretty much told them point-blank that I was desperate for a job and would do anything they wanted, which of course isn’t true. If they wanted me to work until 2am on a school night, I wasn’t going to do it. I figured once I got the job I could work on details but you need to lay out your own personal stipulations, like hours worked, during the interview.

If you come in looking like a desperate maniac they may assume it is how you are all of the time. There is fine line of making sure your confidence is coming across and looking truly desperate.

When I was in my first year of university, there was a job I really wanted. I had zero experience in the field but I knew I could do it. I knew I could pick the skills up and I knew I would be an excellent candidate. I just had to convince the manager to hire me over a well qualified and educated person. It worked. She said it was my tone and confidence during the interview that convinced her. She said she had no doubt I would be able to do the job and she would teach me. She was impressed with how much I had researched the job and that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my entire life for a job hence me telling her exactly what I could and could not work. What started as a five month summer job turned into a five year gig. I never gave her an opportunity to regret hiring me.

Pictures on resumes

Attaching a head shot to your resume can go either way. For me, it’s worked. When someone is looking to hire and they look at a resume for an average time of 5-6 seconds, you need to stand out. Not many people attach pictures to resumes (unless of course you’re in a field like acting) so it’s a guarantee that you’ll get a look at. Humans are very visual beings. We see a picture and we instantly want to know more about the person behind the picture. Your resume will, if nothing else, get more than the average 5-6 second once-over. Even if I didn’t end up getting the job, it was reaffirmed during the interview process that they liked the idea of a picture. Sometimes it was my picture alone that got me the interview since, during the early days, I had little skills to offer.

There is always a good and bad way to go about doing something, interviews included. Make sure you do your homework about the job before setting foot into an interview and review your resume. You may think you know your own resume but having a quick look-over before heading into the interview will give you an idea for lines of questioning. If you don’t get a job, find out why. Ask what it was that you didn’t have and how you could have improved. Apply these lessons to your next interview and before long, you’ll get that job!


What’s the best thing you learned from a job you didn’t get?


  1. Just like you the very first thing I learned, was to be confident in speaking. I’m not 100% ready during my first interview and I felt very bad at that time. That was my biggest lesson that I learned.
    Teffany @ Critical Financial recently posted..Get Hundreds Of Facebook Fans With The ‘Like Box’My Profile

  2. Sometimes I wonder if you put yourself at a disadvantage by not looking for a job until after college. Because fair or not, and employer is going to take age and experience into consideration, and if you’re in your early-to-mid twenties and have zero experience working in a corporate culture, that’s a warning sign.

    I didn’t go to college at all, and had 4 IT-related positions before I was 21. At that point my resume was very attractive to my next employer, because I’d had the “hands on” experience and they knew I could thrive in their culture.
    FI Pilgrim recently posted..FI 101: Two Stages Of DebtMy Profile

  3. I don’t know that I applied for many jobs I didn’t get. I spent most of my adult life so far working in one place.

    However, I do think it’s important to have a nice resume. A pic can’t hurt. Why not? My old employer pitched many resumes because they were dirty, disorganized, or smelled like smoke.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..House Shopping: We Found “The One”My Profile

  4. I also learned confidence is king in an interview. I was applying to be a disc jockey at a local club and the interviewer walked out and asked 10 of us waiting, “Who can do a handstand?” I thought….”WTF? Handstand? This is a disc jockey job!” Three people tried and the rest of us stood there. The place was a restaurant during the day and people were staring at us. The interviewer looked at those of us that wouldn’t do it and said, “You can leave. Thank you.” Suddenly I realized that because I hadn’t had the confidence to even try, I’d lost a job I would have loved during college.
    AverageJoe recently posted..How To Sell Your House During The Holidays – 2 Guys and Your Money 58My Profile

  5. Confidence is huge! I know that was something I struggled with when I was looking for my job. I also learned that it truly makes a difference – in a tough job market, anyway – when you know someone. You don’t have to be best buddies with someone high up in the company you’re looking at, but it’s an exponential help when you have some sort of connection to an employee who can put in a good word for you.
    Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial recently posted..Millennials Who Break Negative GenY StereotypesMy Profile

  6. My husband has been very successful with using a very creative resume that shows off his design skills (he’s in marketing). His resume has gotten a ton of interest, but he suffers from the confidence side. We’re working on it!
    Michelle recently posted..Wait. I Paid How Much Interest This Year?My Profile

  7. When I wanted a job, I got it. Just as you said, confidence was key. I always aimed for jobs I was qualified for and am VERY confident in my skills. I’ve had the same approach when dealing with prospective clients, I’m very confident in my skills and the quality of work that I provide, so there weren’t too may refusals ;)
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  8. Confidence is the biggest winner here. If you don’t exude confidence when talking with potential employers, they won’t give you the time of day. They want people that they can hire and get stuff done.

  9. I have to agree with everyone else on confidence. You need to go into an interview and try to believe that nothing is on the line. Desperation really is noticeable and it’s a turn off. It’s helpful to keep in mind that the company needs someone to fill the position, so it works both ways. I found that changing my mindset helped. Believing that you’re an asset and knowing how to articulate that is important. At my last job, when they were interviewing for a receptionist, anyone with a picture on their resume was ridiculed, but it’s one of those things that differs everywhere.
    E.M. recently posted..November Goals Review & 2014 GoalsMy Profile

  10. The best thing I learned with jobs I didn’t get is that it probably wasn’t meant to be. I think back on how disappointed I was with not getting some of the jobs, until a year later I look back and think, “whew!”
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted..How I Made 10k in Side IncomeMy Profile

  11. Looking back, I think I learned how to be confident too. When you go into an interview and you have questions and fears, and doubt your ability to learn and work, that come across as weak. Yes, it may be a new job in a new field, but if you are willing to learn and work and take on challenges–show you are excited by that.

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