You see a job posting that looks like it would be the perfect next step for you. You decide to apply for the position so you go in to talk to your boss about the move as you need his approval to apply. No problem right, he’s talked to you about where you want to go and he’s supported your development. Surprisingly he tells you that you aren’t ready for that position, you just don’t have the right experience. What’s going on? Now what do you do?
First you have to set aside your disappointment and that may take some time. When you can be calm and are ready to hear what your boss has to say, schedule time to talk to him about it. You may be surprised by his answers.
To get to the root of the issue you need to be open to asking questions that may have tough answers. Here are some suggestions of questions you can ask to learn more about the situation:
- What about this position wasn’t a good fit for you?
- Where there skills required for the position that you don’t have or haven’t fully developed yet?
- Was there some specific business experience required that you haven’t had yet?
Once you get answers to those questions you can then start to explore what you can do to be better prepared for the next opportunity that comes along. Ask what you can be doing to grow in the appropriate areas. Are there classes you should take? Is there a project you can be part of to gain experience? Should you be connecting with people in another area?
You may also have discovered that the position would not have been a good move for your career goals. Maybe it was interesting but would pull you in a direction that really is not where you want to go. It can be so easy to get excited about a position based on the job description only to learn that it really is more repetitive or tied to a desk than the description might imply.
Another possibility may be lurking in the background. One is that your boss knew they had identified someone for that position before it was even posted. The posting was a formality and you would never have had a chance so he was saving you from getting false hope.
The other reason you may have been told you weren’t ready is that your boss may not be ready to let you go. If you are doing a great job and are in a unique field it might be hard to replace you, so your boss is holding on to you for his own good. This will be harder to spot because bosses rarely admit to this one. Look for comments related to difficulty backfilling your current position.
No matter what the reason is behind the “you aren’t ready” you now have more information about what you need to do to be prepared to move. If it’s related to skills or experience focus on developing the needed skills or getting the right experience. If it’s because they had hand-picked someone work on getting to know people in the area where you want to go. This will help you be someone they will consider because they know you now. And if it was because your boss wants to keep you, you will need to find an ally outside your area who can help you grow and move forward.
It’s not always easy to hear that you weren’t right for a job, however it gives you the opportunity to prove what you can do and how you handle disappointments. Focus on moving forward and stay positive. That will prove you are ready when the time comes, and it will come sooner than you think.