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In order to succeed, you need to learn from your failures.

Looking for a new job usually means a succession of failures before finding a new position.  Although this can often be demotivating, it can also be constructive. In France, we take a dim view of failure – it is something negative, something to your discredit. But in the English speaking world – in the US or the UK for example – someone who has failed is someone who has tried; consequently, someone with more experience.

Failure leads to self-doubt which in turn leads to a drop in self-confidence.  It is a vicious circle in which you can very quickly become trapped, as the more we lack self-confidence, the more we have to cope with failure.  It is not easy to accept, but this can enable us to change and to develop and this will determine future success.

  So why not look at your setbacks from a new perspective?  How do you turn them into positives?

A failure is constructive. Thomas Edison said ‘I have never failed.  I found 10,000 solutions which didn’t work’.  It is the same when you are looking for a job that you really want.  A door which closes makes us learn about ourselves, our mistakes.  It is how we will know which behaviour doesn’t work, which approach is not appropriate; these will need to be modified in order to find the best way to get that dream job.

First and foremost, think about putting your failure into perspective.  For example, if your application for a vacancy is rejected, simply tell yourself it is not the first time nor will it be the last.  You must not doubt yourself or blame yourself.  A lot of people before us failed before eventually succeeding.  One of the most famous examples is Bill Gates, who we all know today as one the world’s richest men thanks to the global success of Microsoft.  You should know that at the start of his career he dropped out of Harvard, his first company went bankrupt and he failed several times before finding success with Microsoft.

 ‘Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly’ – Robert F. Kennedy. Tell yourself that a person who has never failed, never attempted anything.  So don’t give up and keep going.

Once you have put your failure into perspective, learn from it.  If you have been turned down for a job, there is a reason.

You must think about why your application was turned down:

  • Poor knowledge of the company?
  • A second rate presentation?
  • Insufficient preparation?
  • You didn’t sell yourself enough?
  • You don’t fit into the company’s culture?

There is a long list of questions you can ask yourself to get to the bottom of why you did not succeed.  Why is it so important to identify where the mistake lay?  So as not to repeat it.  In this way, you will improve and increase your chances of success in the future.

If you are facing a succession of failures – for example all the job interviews you go to lead to nothing, and you start to wonder if you’ll ever succeed, you must pass through this. If fact, you must banish negative thoughts (about perpetual failure) and turn them into positive thoughts.  Imagine the next step in you search for a job will be a success; just because you have failed once doesn’t mean that you will fail every time – believe in yourself.

 To conclude, you must give yourself the means to succeed.  If you don’t try to improve and to learn from your mistakes, you will never be in a good position to know success.  Surround yourself with the right people – ones who will help you evolve.  Someone else’s experience is always valuable;

If you are looking for a job during a professional transition, you may need the help of outplacement.  This can be a good way to overcome a setback – you will receive advice adapted to your individual situation, which will speed up your personal development.  Outplacement can be appropriate for staff too, not just directors and senior managers.

 Don’t give up, believe in yourself and tell yourself that each setback is taking you one step closer to success.


Philippe PillièreCEO Morgan Philips Evolution


Morgan Philips Executive Search

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