Post Academic

Not Getting the Job: Do You Hold a Funeral or a Wake?

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on January 24, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWe at Post Academic are specialists in rejection. I’ve had plenty of cubicle doors slammed in my face out there in the hamster world, but it doesn’t sting quite as much as academic rejection since the stakes are higher.

So I can appreciate Christine Kelly’s Inside Higher Ed article called “After the Failed Interview.” She reminds her readers that recovery after an academic job rejection is a little different from recovery after a Hamster World rejection:

Step one is to acknowledge and work through your emotions. Your support network will tell you “things will be all right” and “this means something better is out there for you” because they want you to feel better quickly. But you have to give yourself time to grieve. That time may be relatively short if you weren’t strongly committed to the position, or it may be longer if it was your dream job. You may need some time to wallow in your disappointment. Ask your support network to let you vent without judging and without trying to make you feel better.

At first, I thought Kelly’s grief metaphor was a bit much. My inner knee-jerk response was, “Dude, settle down. It’s not like you just met the Crypt-Keeper.” Then I realized that I am one of those well-intentioned but pain-in-the-ass people in an academic’s support network who don’t know (or remember) that most jobs come around only once a year, and there aren’t many at that. It’s not like you can keep submitting your resume unless you want to–here’s that death thing again–end that chapter of your life and start a new career.

That thing, whatever it is, is playing a song for the job-that-wasn’t. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.