Learn to learn from rejection and failure — you won't regret it.
You’ve just been passed over for that big promotion you’ve been wanting for ages. Do you resign? Many career experts would say yes.
After all, everyone at the company has observed your setback. You may fear you have lost credibility. You may be angry, humiliated and offended. You may wonder if you can ever live this down.
Indeed, your best option may in fact be to move on. But before you do, take a moment to first cool off, and then search for ways to learn from this experience. People looking back often realize that rejection and failure were the defining moments in their careers. Now, in that moment of clarity that so often follows a shock, is the perfect opportunity to rethink your goals and aspirations, and to re-evaluate your skills, strengths and shortcomings.
Consider enlisting your employers in this process. Ask them what you could specifically do to make yourself a stronger candidate next time. What did they want that you lacked? Which are the areas that need improving? Don’t forget to say that you felt honored to be considered for the promotion in the first place — showing that you can be a “good loser” is not only a sign of maturity, it is guaranteed to gain the respect of your colleagues.
You really can’t lose by opening up these lines of communication, and by honestly considering any feedback you manage to glean. Who knows, you might discover things about yourself you never knew. You may even learn that the decision to pass you over had nothing to do with you. Other forces may have been at work.
Whatever path you do decide upon, don’t act out of hurt or anger or disappointment. That’s not a great recipe for making major life decisions! Vent in private, with loved ones, and when you approach your employer, do so from a place of balance and a sincere desire to improve. You may find that the ability to turn a negative experience into a positive one is a valuable life skill that will benefit you no matter what job you have.
Oh, and don’t forget to offer your congratulations to the person who did get the job. This is a time when graciousness and class are more important than ever.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.