How I didn’t land my dream job

January 27, 2023

…and why it was ok!

Given my career background in recruitment, I’ve recently received a few queries about job hunting and graduate opportunities. Although I don’t actively recruit anymore, I hope this post can help those who are looking for advice on your first-ever job search!

Before I share my experience, I want to let you know that this is the most exciting time of your career because you are about to commence a journey that will enrich your life with lessons, experience, and incredible friendships. As nerve-wracking as it is, please remember to embrace this experience!

Although I was considered a fresh graduate, I made a wishlist of criteria I hoped my next employer would have:

  • Big Corporate Brand that would make my parents proud (very Asian thinking)
  • Work hard and play hard culture
  • Learning and career advancement opportunities

While I was job searching, a friend told me about the recruitment industry and it seemed to check off all the items on the above list, so I applied to Michael Page — the largest firm in Hong Kong.

When I was invited for an interview, I still remember stepping into that large meeting room for the first time. It felt like one of those rooms you see on TV where you meet a lawyer for a business meeting. It was so overwhelming and intimidating to be in there, knowing you are going to be the least knowledgeable person in the room. After over 3 hours of interviewing and meeting with 11 different people, I felt like I was hired. Why else would they have met me for so long, right?

After about a week, I heard back from one of the interviewers… and it was a “thank you for your interest, we found someone more suitable” message. My heart sank because I couldn’t process why I hadn’t been offered the job…

Was it because I didn’t send enough thank you emails?

Was it because I didn’t answer the questions correctly?

Was it because I didn’t smile enough?

Whatever it was, it made me feel pretty discouraged and lost. I thought I found a career that I truly wanted, nailed the interview, and got the job but I didn’t.

So what I’d like to share about this experience:

  • Although you are a fresh graduate, you can still come up with a list of things you hope your job can give you. This clears your head when you search for the ideal roles because you already know the pillars of what you want.
  • It’s ok to be the least knowledgeable, they still interviewed me for 3+ hours and I learned so much from those conversations. In fact, it’s the most rewarding when you can gain insights from these interviews.
  • Expect the unexpected and don’t expect anything at all: I didn’t expect to be interviewed for that long and most definitely didn’t expect to be rejected after that. This was the foundation of my confidence building up.
  • It’s ok to be rejected — all you need is one company to say yes!

Hope you enjoyed reading that! In my next post, I’ll share how I ended up being hired by Michael Page and started my dream job.

Howard Sung

Co-founder of - Intelligent Recruiter Matching Platform

Further Reading

3 Things you need to know when engaging with recruiters

Is this your first time trying to hire with the use of recruiters? Are you traumatized by a bad experience when dealing with recruiters?Using external recruiters definitely has its benefits, but if you’re not careful, the whole experience can scar you…
Howard Sung
September 4, 2019

Find Recruiter receives its first-ever funding from WNJ

Find Recruiter is extremely excited to announce an official partnership with WNJ Ventures. For the past 3 years, Find Recruiter has been a bootstrapped venture with the mission to streamline the recruitment processes for companies via their collaborative platform between employers and specialist recruiters.
Howard Sung
September 13, 2021