I keep getting rejected – should I give up?
Simon Gray advises a qualified accountant who keeps getting overlooked for finance manager roles and now feels like giving up.
An anonymous AccountingWEB reader recently took to Any Answers to ask if anyone else ever feels like giving up. The qualified accountant has been “stuck doing senior accountant roles” for a while but keeps getting “rejected and overlooked with hardly no feedback, other than ‘you interviewed well’.”
“I see junior inexperienced staff across the profession taking these roles, even financial controller level! Some of them don't even know how to prepare a set of accounts! Like, are you for real,” said the user.
They now feel like giving up with the profession all together and resigning from the ACCA. “When will somebody give me a chance? What is it that these people have over me? I just don't understand.”
The AccountingWEB community encouraged the user to “stick at it”.
“You'll land a position eventually,” said the drookit dug, advising the anonymous poster to make sure they sell themself in interviews. “Really big yourself up. Heaven knows everybody else does.”
Others advised the downtrodden senior accountant to upskill. “Just because you have passed your exams you do not stop learning, you just now have the choice about how you develop your career,” said OldParkAcct.
Meanwhile, Tom123 instructed the user to hold tight during these uncertain Covid times: “Things are tough at the moment, so probably not the best time to try and move if you have over two years’ service in your current role.”
In the workplace and in life, I’m sorry to say that rejection is just an inevitable part of the process. As a former recruiter and adviser to executive jobseekers on how to navigate the job market successfully, the draining effect of rejection is something I’m used to discussing.
Rejection takes numerous forms and for many is an unwelcome companion through the journey of life. It manifests at school, in relationships and, most definitely, in the workplace. The latter crops up in many ways, including being passed up for promotion by a current employer or not being shortlisted for an interview in the external job market.
Rejection will always be there, because we have little control over the perceptions and decisions of others. Blaming your employer or the condition of the job market passes the buck and reinforces the disempowering belief that there’s nothing you can do.
What’s the point – it’s time to give up – what’s wrong with me? If left unchecked, these thoughts could bombard your subconscious and become your self-talk companion during your waking hours, not to mention while you’re trying to get to sleep at night. Take care – these thoughts are damaging, debilitating and unhelpful to your pursuit of progression.
Nana korobi ya oki
In my experience, anything worth having has to be worked at. It’s easy to give up too early. While living, working and training in the martial arts in Tokyo, Japan, I happened upon a proverb that plays centre stage to how I choose to approach life.
Nana korobi ya oki – fall down seven time, get up eight. There’s no better advice. You’ll get knocked down, but you always have the option to get back up!
Nothing is certain in life and a ‘certainty mindset’ will leave even the most positive of people feeling a little despondent at times. A certainty mindset goes something like this – if I do something, I expect to get this. Whatever you do, you won’t always get the outcome you want. A ‘probability mindset’ is a much better option and presents itself in this way – if I do something ten times, it’s likely that I’ll have success three times out of ten.
Using the job interview as a useful analogy – there are two approaches:
Approach 1 – The candidate who interviews once gets rejected with minimal feedback and subsequently gives up (certainty mindset).
Approach 2 – The candidate who interviews once gets rejected and doesn’t let it phase them. They see rejection as a learning opportunity and one step on the road to a successful outcome – they keep going (probability mindset).
A quote I find helpful is from Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. The history books quote him as saying: ‘Perseverance in any profession will most probably meet its reward.’ In my opinion he was right.
A different path?
On the flip side, you have to know when it’s time to pick a different path. The catalyst to any decision to change course, though, should not be a reaction to a negative situation, but instead have at its root a proactive decision to make a change.
As human beings we make decisions all the time instinctively. On the one hand this is good news – it gets us out of trouble when there’s no time to think. On the other hand, when it comes to important life decisions, the knee-jerk reaction often requires some tempering. While it’s helpful to have many of our decisions made automatically by our subconscious minds, for the big ones, taking the time to process them in our conscious minds is best advice.
Stay focused, keep going and success could be just around the corner!
For more thoughts on this subject, I wrote a book at the start of this year about my time in Japan: Suck It Up Or Go Home – A True Story About The Courage To Stand Up, Keep Going And Never Give In! .