Managing expectations while searching for a job

Here is a piece of advice, a reminder if you want, that I give to friends (and to myself) who are searching for jobs

At least once (yet probably more like 2+ times) you will find a job that you really like, one that looks like a perfect fit, but that you will not get. 

Looking back on my own experience interviewing for jobs, both at Google as well as later in my career, I remember moments when this happened to me. I remember seeing the perfect opportunity and feeling that the job description must have been modeled after my resume. How am I not the perfect candidate for this role? 


I would apply, but I wouldn’t get the job. Either they preferred another candidate, or I screwed up the process, or their idea of the right candidate changed. I have seen this happen so often – to me and to others – that I remind myself that this is a given, almost a basic truth, about the job searching process: the first few opportunities I see, chances are, I won’t get them. 

Why even talk about something that I’d consider “truth?” Well, because we tend to forget. We sometimes navigate the job searching process with a sense of entitlement, and that’s why we end up feeling disappointed. Because we think we deserved something we didn’t get. 

You might say that’s a very pessimistic way of thinking, but in my opinion this is actually a constructive way of thinking. I am not trying to discourage anyone from applying to those jobs they find and like, but I do hope to help “manage one’s own emotions and expectations” as they do so. Applying for jobs is already a roller coaster ride, so if you can find ways to mitigate the lows, then you are really just making sure that the process doesn’t drain your emotions too much. And that is definitely a good thing. 

Funny enough, in hindsight, those opportunities I considered “perfect matches,” I often conclude that they weren’t as good as I thought they were. Maybe this is just a defense-mechanism and an attempt to rationalize away a rejection, but I do believe that we evolve as we go through the job searching process. That’s why some of the opportunities that we thought were great, are not that great anymore as we move along the process and learn more about own desires and preferences. 

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