What I Learned Getting Turned Down For My Dream Job

my dream job

my dream jobI recently interviewed for what I’d call my dream job–writing at home full-time about all things personal finance. Part of the interview was to write five different writing assignments. I was really nervous. Even though I spend between 2-4 hours a day writing for various clients, I still feel like there’s a lot more room to grow in terms of my writing skillz. So I enlisted a competent editor (my wife) and got ready to put my heart and soul into the assignments.

The first came back and they loved it! They even paid me for it (after which, my editor informed me that she charges 40%. Well played). The second article was quite a bit more research-intensive, and though I spent almost twice as much time on it as the first one, it ended up a fail. They gave me some feedback and then told me they would be pursuing other candidates. It was over before I knew it.

When I got the email, I was heartbroken. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be a shoe-in or anything, but I was really hoping and praying for the opportunity. But since the dust has settled, I’ve had a chance to think more clearly about what I’ve learned from the experience.

I haven’t failed

I’m no stranger to getting turned down for jobs. I was unemployed my first 6 months out of college, and have been underemployed in the 16 months since then. Getting turned down for yet another job could have been just another reminder that I’m a failure. But as I looked back on where I was a year ago versus where I am now, I’m anything but a failure. Over the last year, I’ve tripled my income. I’m to the point where even though I don’t love my day job, I’ve been able to balance two careers well enough so that my wife hasn’t had to work for the past 6 months as she’s been dealing with some health issues. She will also be able to stay home for when our baby comes in February. And even though we’re not saving as much money as I wish we were, and sometimes I feel a little helpless about our debt, I’ve used my passion to build something out of nothing. I haven’t failed in any sense of that word.

I’m still learning

There are a million things I still haven’t mastered when it comes to writing. I don’t have an English degree and I had never done any writing outside of school before I started my blog. When I got the feedback in the email, I knew I could be bitter about it or I could learn from it. There were certain things the recruiter said that I hadn’t even thought about while I was writing. My wife also gave me some great insight on some thing as she was editing my articles. I’ve always been a big believer that knowledge is power, and the more I learn from my own mistakes, the better and more successful I can become.

I’m grateful

These past two years have been hard, but I feel like I’ve been blessed beyond what I deserve. Over the last few days, I’ve taken the chance to ask myself where I would be if I didn’t start this blog just over a year ago. To be honest, it’s scary to even think about it. If I hadn’t started this blog, I’d likely still be underemployed without any supplemental income. My wife would be forced to work through the health issues she’s been dealing with. Our marriage was going through a rough patch at the time, but since she gave up her job as a teacher, we’ve spent more time together than ever, and our relationship is stronger than ever. It’s been stressful at times trying to keep up with everything, but it’s been an amazing ride and I’m looking forward to more of it.

My dreams aren’t crushed

As devastating as it was to get that email, I’m still on a good path to where I want to go. Even during the interview process, I added another client to my portfolio, and there are a couple more in the works. I’m planning on writing full-time one day, whether it’s for someone else or for myself. This rejection is just one more to add to the shelf, and I’m sure there are many more to come. If I spend too much time dusting that shelf and keeping it presentable, I won’t have any time to add anything to my shelf of accomplishments on the opposite wall. The more dust on the rejection shelf, the better.

This is fun

I love a good challenge. The reason I hated my first job out of college was because it was no longer challenging after two weeks. One of the reasons I love writing so much is because it’s constantly a challenge. I have to push myself to get out of bed every morning at 5:00 a.m. (and not go back to sleep). I have to manage my time in a way to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of every minute I work. Sometimes it’s super stressful, but most of the time it’s just fun.

Have you ever been turned down for your dream job? How have you taken failures in stride?

(photo cred)


19 thoughts on “What I Learned Getting Turned Down For My Dream Job

  1. Hi! I’m sorry to hear about the job, but yay for keeping a positive attitude!!! In writing, it happens ALL the time! I’ve been freelancing for over two years, and like you I applied for an awesome PF editing job and was unfortunately turned down. That’s OK – there are hundreds of opportunities out there and had I gotten that job, I don’t think I would have started my own blog 🙂 Best of luck to you!!!

  2. I love this, Ben! You’re definitely not a failure (far from it), and someone I look up to where writing is concerned. I’m amazed at how you increased your income so much in such a short amount of time. Being able to make enough for your wife to stay home is very much a success, especially as it’s strengthened your relationship.

    I do think there’s something we can always learn from rejections. Opportunities come and go, but as long as we keep taking them and putting ourselves out there, we’ll keep getting more. I have no doubt you’ll be able to work for yourself one day soon.

  3. I know not getting the opportunity was dissapointinf for you but you are most certainly not a failure Ben. In fact I consider you a success. I recently submitted an article for a client and it was the first time I had to complete a partial revision. I could have taken offense by what the editor instructed but I am in the business to learn and grow. That rewrite push me to be better and I am very fortunate to be working with that particular editor. When I submitted the rewrite, it passed with flying colours.

    1. I used to hate getting requests for revisions, but now for the most part it’s a little wake up call that I need to give it a little more effort. Although one time I had a customer ask me to re-do the article three times, each time asking me to change something completely different. It drove me nuts!

  4. I really enjoyed seeing you talk yourself back from this disappointment. I’ve applied for a few jobs recently and nothing has come through yet, but I keep getting interviews so I think eventually one will stick. And thankfully I’m having fun in the meantime! It sounds like you are slowly building what you really want (self-employment) even as you apply for other full-time work and that is awesome!

  5. Ben – I started reading several months ago, and within just that short period of time I have seen the quality of your writing & content get better and better. It sounds like you are creating some good momentum. I admire your attitude.

  6. Really appreciate the candor in this post and a little bit of insight into the full time writing process. Sorry to hear you didn’t get the position but like you said you are definitely progressing and there are job openings all the time. Best of luck to you Ben!

  7. I have kept all my rejection letters from the TV business. I have a box full of them. I looked through it a few months ago and couldn’t believe all the places I applied for. I actually probably didn’t want to work for most of them, but just needed a job at the time. My first boss in TV hired Ann Curry (from the Today Show) and told her she would never make it in the business. Just because someone is a boss or is above you at the time doesn’t make them all knowing. Rejection sucks at the time but often turns out better in the long run.

    1. Awesome story, Lance! It’s totally true though. I remember talking to a guy when I was struggling to get a job out of college and he said he covered their entire living room floor with all the rejection letters he received (back when they actually sent letters). You just gotta let it be a springboard instead of a ditch 🙂

  8. I’m sorry, Ben! You are a great writer and disappointment can be tough to swallow. This post is spot on though. You are still learning and will continue improving and finding other opportunities. I know you are killing it as a freelancer and make an enviable salary from that alone. When you get rejected, it’s important to remind yourself of the good you already have. And you are so right — you are NOT a failure. This is one step in the journey.

    1. Thanks Melanie 🙂 That’s very nice of you to say. I think sometimes it’s way too easy to forget how blessed I am–but I really am! Now that I think about it, it would be nice to have that job, but I’m perfectly happy how I am.

  9. Your dreams are still valid. Again I am happy that you have taken the positive initiative of not giving up . I am sure you had some lesson and a chance to correct yourself for a better future.

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