Early in 2017 I began working at what I considered to be my “dream job”.
It was a digital marketing agency based in the city, with benefits, a good salary, and awesome coworkers. I had the freedom to share my own creative ideas, start projects, and contribute to my learning. I enjoyed going to work every day, and I couldn’t foresee leaving in the next 2 years, let alone in the next few months.
But somewhere between my first day on the job and “We are letting you go”, I became complacent. I no longer enjoyed my job, and I didn’t feel like my coworkers or managers understood me. On paper, I had the perfect career, but it was becoming very clear that it wasn’t a good fit. Suddenly, I found myself falling out of love.
And then it fell out of love with me.
I was let go. I was dumped.
Being Dumped by ‘The One’
To everyone else, I had been living the dream, and for a while, I believed it too. That was the job I had always wanted. To be told that I wasn’t a good fit was devastating. To me, it meant that I didn’t fit in with my own vision of what my ideal career would be.
I began to second guess whether I was really cut out for it, and whether I needed to rethink my entire future.
Regardless of whether you are let go due to lack of skills, downsizing, or just having a shitty boss, being dumped by your dream job sucks. Like a bad breakup, you try to find closure, and wonder how you could possibly move onto “the next one”. At the same time, you may find yourself scrambling to just find *something* to pay the bills.
And like a breakup, you need to take the proper time to reflect, do better, and move on.
Why That Dream Job Wasn’t Meant to Be
Unless you purposely sabotaged yourself in order to get fired (unlikely), the fact that you were let go simply means you weren’t meant to be at that job. And I don’t mean that in the fluffy, philosophical way either.
Maybe you didn’t have the skills to do the job right
Maybe your boss had it out for you
Maybe you stopped enjoying your work
Maybe you have no idea why you were dumped
Regardless of the reason, the harsh reality is that your “dream job” did not end up being an ideal fit. Like the Two Step Sisters and Cinderella’s glass slipper, perhaps you had been trying to make it fit for far too long. Maybe you had even started to see the writing on the wall.
Or, perhaps you were completely blindsided, and were left with more questions than answers. If so, I can say that I definitely feel your pain. Being dropped on a whim hurts, and it is hard not to take things personally. If this is your situation, this post is a great start in moving forward and letting go of some of those unanswered “what ifs”.
Addressing the ‘What Ifs’ and asking ‘Why?’
It’s not really my style to waste time getting to the point.
I’m here to tell you that the reason why you were let go doesn’t really matter. The shitty reality is that you may not have all the answers. Acknowledging this is one of the first steps in moving on and moving forward.
Dwelling on the reasons “Why” can only take you so far, and over time you begin to look back more than you are looking forward. There are things to be learned from you experience, for sure, but much more to be gained in thinking about how you are going to move on to your next opportunity. Wrestling with the “What Ifs” of the situation gets exhausting, and that is energy you could be using to make your next big move.
Finding Your Rebound, a.k.a. Moving On
One of our first reactions after a big break up is to scramble to find the next best thing. We do it in relationships, and we do it in jobs. With your best interest in mind, I recommend that you do NOT do this, at least not in the traditional sense. Your “next best thing” should not, in fact, be the second-best thing you can find. It SHOULD be the next BEST thing you can find.
The next BEST thing is the next move you make that propels you forward into a better place, a better opportunity. Unlike in relationships, you can’t simply cling onto the next shitty option you can find. In addition to having to pay the bills, you are trying to set yourself up for the job you are truly meant to have.
I am 100% aware that finding yourself unexpectedly unemployed is a shitty place to be in. You must do what you can to take care of yourself. But not all “rebound” jobs are made equal. I want to help you find the BEST one.
Resisting the Urge to Settle (into a Career You Don’t Want)
As soon as I was let go, my mind started spiraling into all the oh f*cks of having to find another job. I planned to start applying for new jobs immediately, and was ready to take the next best option I could get.
But, at some point during the process, I slowed down. I started to actually reconsider whether my last “dream job” was in fact The Dream Job.
It was at a pivotal moment in deciding what my next move would be. Soon, the “next best thing” turned into a door of opportunity.
I don’t expect you to reach this realization right away, or even super quickly. But it does need to happen to make the most of your time and energy.
To keep things rolling, you really need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I want to hop into another position that is nearly identical to the last one?
- Am I okay selling myself short by settling for a job that just pays the bills?
- What do I envision my next dream job to be?
Your answers to these questions will help determine whether the next job you take is in fact a stepping stone in taking where you need to go, or a roadblock. Even if it is a step down as far as benefits/pay/prestige/etc., it should at least be a move you are comfortable making in order to benefit your future.
Blessings in Disguise: an Opportunity in Plain Sight
Your next big could move could in fact be not so big at all. It may even be a small step you take, only this time in the right direction.
There is a lot of pressure on finding “your dream job”, so when it doesn’t work out, it can be embarrassing and stressful. There is also a lot of status tied up in what job you have. However, worrying about these things will only distract you from finding the best fit for YOU.
– For example, that entry-level position with small startup may not seem like the ideal fit on paper, at first. But perhaps you realize that with an up-and-coming company, there is a lot more opportunity for you to make a name for yourself and contribute ideas. In fact, I have seen this happen for many people I know who have left large companies (for one reason or another), and are much happier in this environment. They have many more networking opportunities and potential for growth.
– Or, perhaps you are drawn to something that seemingly outside of your industry. It can provide you a solid financial foundation and the freedom to pursue other things you are passionate about. This can be an ideal option for those that have dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. You may find a job that gives you the time to finally get your business off the ground.
These opportunities, though seemingly less-than-ideal, may be just the thing you need at this time in your life. They can provide you massive opportunities for growth, financial freedom, reduce stress, and much more. Don’t assign judgement to how they may look on paper, but instead see the potential they offer in taking your career aspirations to the next level.
Preparing for ‘The Real Deal’
If you are still in the process of finding a job after recently being “dumped” by your Dream Job, it can be hard think 3 steps ahead. You are likely applying to as many jobs as you can to find something that will both offer some financial security, and keep you feeling fulfilled. Hopefully now you may be looking at some of those opportunities in a different light, and resisting the urge to settle. Once you find that next BEST thing, then it is time to start preparing for your next dream job, a.k.a. The Real Deal.
If you are able to find a position that is a good stepping stone in moving you forward, embrace it for all it is worth. Look for opportunities for growth. Brush shoulders with your coworkers and superiors to learn more, do better, and find inspiration. If you are given the chance to try something new, or showcase your skills, take it. Make the best of where you are at, and keep your eye on the prize.
Keeping an optimistic attitude really will set you up for success. Not only will it invite in people who may want to learn more about you, but it will help you absorb the experience you gather at your new position. This will only help you in the long run. Keep your eyes open, and don’t be afraid to jump when it is time to make that next move. The Real Deal may be right right around the corner.
Practical Tips for Making Your Next Move
Here are my top nuggets of knowledge if you find yourself being dumped by your “dream job”. In addition the advice outlined above, these tips will help keep you moving in the right direction.
- Apply to What Speaks to You: If you have a bad feeling about something, move on. If you have a good feeling about something, apply apply apply! Don’t skip out on something just because it doesn’t look shiny on paper.
- Reach Out to Your Network: Put your pride on the sidelines and tell people you are looking for new opportunities. See if you can find a mentor that will help fine-tune your resume. See if your mom can ask her friends who’s hiring. (Hey, it works!)
- Make Something: This is particularly relevant to those of you with an entrepreneurial streak. If it calls you, start a blog, paint a landscape, make music, or build a website. Not only do employers like to see this stuff (I got my first “real job” after they saw my website), but it will help keep you from losing your mind over the application process.
- Take a Break: If you have the means to do it, I highly suggest that you take a mini vacation to clear your mind. Hell, maybe this is your chance to go travel the world like you always dreamed of! You will come back (if you do decide to come back) rejuvenated and ready to tackle the job search. I know a week in Maui did me a lot of good!
Have questions or suggestions about this post? Please let us know in the comments below! I am happy to help you navigate the post-dream job breakup process!