Why not getting the job you wanted needn't be bad news

If you're turned down for a job, it's natural to feel despondent – but you can take a lot from the process, says Zoe Enser

Zoe Enser

Teacher jobs: Getting turned down for a new job isn't all bad news - you can learn from the application process, says Zoe Enser

At this time of the year, social media is littered with posts about people securing their new role. It is an exciting time for them, and they are understandably proud of what they have achieved. 

This means timelines can be filled with congratulations, and it is lovely to see how the professional community are supporting each other.

However, there will be others who have not managed to secure that role they have gone for, and they may feel understandably despondent about it all. Putting yourself out there can be hard, and the amount of time and energy spent on completing lengthy application forms and going through an even more lengthy interview process can be exhausting. 

There are many issues about the way jobs are secured in teaching, not least the variety of application forms and interview requirements, each with their own unique hoops for people to jump through. 

Often the job opportunities come towards the end of term, when others are moving on, or because schools want to secure the right people for new posts. This means being unsuccessful after you have applied for something can hit you even harder, making you reluctant to try again. But I believe there can be real value in simply going through the process. 

Teaching careers: Reflecting on why you didn't get that job

Once you have taken some time to let the dust settle, and given yourself the opportunity to have some distance from the process, it is worth reflecting on what you have done. 

First, those pages of information you will have typed out really do have an important use. Having reflected on your successes, your strengths and what it is you have to offer a new school or new role, it is important to keep this at the front of your mind. 

In the busy world of teaching, we don’t always have many opportunities to collate all our achievements and reflect on them honestly, and I have often found myself sitting in review meetings with my line manager, struggling to recall exactly what I have achieved without prompting. 

That completed application is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to those who don’t know you the most important points about your practice and what makes you so amazing. That makes it an important document.

In addition to this, going through the process gets us to reflect on our own context. It may help identify things that we do and don’t like about our current role and setting, perhaps crystalising our own aims and ambitions and helping us to review if this is where we want to achieve them. 

Bringing new understanding about your career

There have been times when I have gone through an application but concluded, on reflection, that actually it was my current role or school that was giving me the opportunities to do those things I really wanted to do. After all, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve these things unless I had been given the time, space and resources to do so. 

Equally, there have been times when it has helped me to consider if these really are the steps I want to take or if there are other directions I want to pursue. In addition, it can help to identify what I might need to do first, before taking those steps, so that when I apply for something else, I know I will really be ready.

Finally, if you reach the interview stage, having the chance to articulate ideas to others outside of your setting will always have a value. As they probe and explore what they can find out about you, you may find out a few things about yourself, too. 

Once again, having an opportunity to show what you have achieved and what you have to offer can bring new understanding about where you are right now, and where you would like to go with your career.

Therefore, even if you are unsuccessful, there will always be a value to what you have just worked through. You may initially feel sad about the experience. You are likely to feel tired. You may even feel bitter about all the effort you put in, only to be told "no". 

However, once you have worked through those feelings, take the time to realise what you have achieved. You put yourself out there. You took a risk and, regardless of the outcome, that, in itself, is something of value.

Zoe Enser is lead English adviser for Kent. She tweets as @greeborunner

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