Feeling defeated and insecure in my job search

Hi! I'm new here. A friend shared Elpha with me this morning after I shared some of the feelings I've been having in my job search efforts.

I've been in the B2B SaaS space for about 10 years (and I have about 14 years of work experience). First, I sold SaaS and now I'm a PMM. For the first 3.5 years of my PMM career, I was in-house. Then I took 6 months off to freelance as a PMM and then joined a consulting agency full-time.

I have gained a lot of really good experience over the last 5+ years, with customers, with sales enablement, with positioning and messaging, and even with GTM. My sales career also has helped my PMM skills a ton. But because I haven't been in-house for over two years, I haven't worked closely with a product team for a while (for more than 6 months at a time). Our contracts at the agency are usually about that length. I'm currently looking for in-house roles again at the Sr. PMM level.

Anyway, I recently was rejected after a test-project where I had to put together my approach to figuring out product market fit, a high-level GTM plan, and a piece of enablement. It really impacted my confidence. I'm worried that I actually don't have a good skill-set now, or that I'm not going to find anything, or that working at an agency has ruined my resume. I know these are all stories, and I AM a believer that this rejection is creating space for something that's in more alignment with me and what I want/need/where I can best serve.

But I'm just down.

Interviewing is exhausting. Rejections are deflating. I feel like I'm taking a beating.

Any thoughts? Words of encouragement? Relatability?

@sheenavega I’m in a similar space but rather in HR. It’s really hard to separate the rejections as something other than personal. I’m learning, however, that it really is just “business”. For every rejection, I apply to two more jobs. I try to pick one to two days a week that I apply and spend my time in other meaningful ways during the week to create a better balance also. After I graduated with my MBA, I worked in the consulting space. Similar to you, it provided me exposure to so much more than a regular role would have, but for some reason, has also made it impossible to land the interviews I need to prove otherwise. The right company is going to see your work and just get it. It’s only a matter of time. You’ve got this!
@sheenavega I love your positivity around how rejections can be a pathway to create alignment. I always say that there are 3 things that will give women in leadership a better advantage in their job search. 1) More volume. By that I mean, more opportunities that are in alignment with you, your strengths, your goals, and your needs. 2) A highly targeted approach. It may be that you need 2 versions of your resume. One that speaks to Sales Enablement/GTM and one that is more PMM focused. It just depends on your goals. 3) Demonstrating the outcomes you've driven. It shouldn't matter if you did the relevant job 6 months or a year ago, what matters is the outcomes you drove. When you lead with those, the market alignment will be there. Now, regarding the test-project rejection. Please don't take that personally. There is a ton of competition out there. As we know, leadership roles often go to men first. And either way, it's not about you, it's about the company. YOU ARE AMAZING. And this wasn't' the role for you. Check out the book Mastering Your Inner Critic. I recommend this to the executive women we work with over at BossmakeHer. You wouldn't believe how many women at the top experience exactly what you are experiencing. You are not alone. And you've got this. Tracy, CEO, BossmakeHer Feel free to reach me with any questions!
Wow, this is incredibly motivating and helpful. Thank you! I will order the book today.
Hi @sheenavega and welcome to Elpha! I'm just here to say I TOTALLY know where you're at. I'm in that same 13-14 year experience zone and am having the exact same feelings. Apparently I'm over-qualified or under-qualified no matter what I apply for. I'm using my network, sending those LinkedIn messages and invites, tweaking resumes etc etc. It feels impossible. BUT I truly believe it's because we are meant for something better and the right opportunity is going to come through eventually. It's been a very dark time for me, and I'm constantly having to remind myself that "all I have is right now" - to be grateful, get outside (and away from the doom of LinkedIn) and enjoy life. We're learning patience, gratitude, self care, the magic of our friends, family, community and all sorts of other things through this journey. I'm feeling all the feels, even the really negative ones, in the hope it will pass quicker. "Rejection is just re-direction" as they say. Who knows where we are going to end up, but it's going to be exactly what we need. If you want to bond over the frustration of it all, just drop me a note :) YOU'VE GOT THIS!!
Claire, thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. It's so funny because when I hear you talk about this, I'm like, "OH! She will absolutely find something great, I know she will!" but there's a lot more fear (and a little less trust) when it comes to myself. And that's just how it goes, right? Especially as women I think. We have so much capacity to see what's possible for others, but sometimes our minds can really limit what we see for ourselves. Messages like yours really help me to get grounded and remember this for myself. I hope this does the same for you! Being able to relate is SO powerful. I completely agree with "rejection is redirection" really and truly! Thank you for the reminder. And thank you again for sharing, it was super helpful to read this. YOU GOT THIS TOO <3
I can completely relate. Job hunting is grueling. The process takes so much time and energy and when it ends in rejection and you don't know EXACTLY why, it's just demoralizing. I'm in the same boat. Feeling like I'm constantly questioning my skills and abilities and whether I'm even hirable at all. I've never struggled so much to find a job in my career. It's scary. I know it's another problem to solve though. Just like a design problem. I get tired and have to take breaks to try to reset, then have to head back out and try to solve it again. Constantly trying to figure out what I can do better, how do I do the best work on this and see it as a project like I would a project I was getting paid to do.
Everyone's giving great advice about handling rejection. But I want to call out some specific bullshit I am noticing in your recent interview experience.Figuring out "product market fit" is the job of the founder(s). If they want you to do this, hopefully the job is coming with a 10%+ equity stake to compensate you for your cofoundership. There is no tried-and-true method for figuring it out, even if you are a GTM expert.However, if you peruse Elpha posts, you'll notice that it's a pretty common topic that job interviews often ask candidates to do free work (the responses are usually on the spectrum ranging from "ask them to pay you to do the interview" to "tell them to fuck off").There's a high likelihood that if someone asked you to come up with product market fit during an interview, they were interviewing 5 people simultaneously with no intent to hire any of them, but with every intent to take those ideas and try them out.I have a friend with a deep background in marketing who came up with a GTM strategy (for free!) during an interview for a serial entrepreneur on his third startup. The startup was mostly funded by the wealthy entrepreneur himself (not VC), and 6 months after she interviewed with him, he decided the idea wasn't going to work and shut things down. Fortunately she had already taken a different job.All this is just to say that in your line of work (GTM for early-stage companies), you are at a high risk in all interviews that the interviewers might not be serious about hiring anyone and might just be interviewing you to get ideas. You might need to enforce stronger boundaries with what you will and won't do in an interview.Source: Am a founder. Was told to fuck off plenty of times when I tried to interview/hire someone to help with PMF / GTM.
Hey @sheenavega. It's completely normal and expected that the job search will take a toll on you. A job search requires patience, persistence, and resilience. It's important to have support throughout the process. Here are a few things I recommend:- Determine what support system you have in place to help you be effective throughout your job search -- Most people feel they have to go it alone and end up guessing where to spend their time versus leveraging a coach, mentor, peer, or other tools and resources to be strategic- By having proper guidance, you'll be sure to improve your approach to ensure you see traction and responses to your applications & networking; otherwise, the burnout can come from hearing nothing back- Determine your accountability plan to make sure you're staying on top of your goals & staying organized; give yourself a structure and a daily routine; proactively plan your time- Be sure not to approach the job in a transactional, check-the-box sort of way -- see networking and interviews as a mirror into the job you would land and an opportunity for two-way assessment of fit -- if you're approaching it in a heads-down way, you'll be putting in the time & energy & risk continuously doing that without seeing results. Once a week, take a step back to reflect on how you're doing and where you can improve. Self-awareness is key. Though it's not always comfortable to do, it can be pivotal to ensuring you're honest with yourself about what roles you should be going after.- Consider how many roles/industries you're applying to-- this may be a sign that you'd want to take a step back and pursue career exploration to clarify your ideal fit direction; career clarity will help make your search more efficient, targeted, and effective- Try doing a project -- this can drastically improve one's mental state during a job search. During a job search, we're in this "seeking" state but we often forget our value & skills. If you can do something productive and creative, it'll a) give you something to talk about during interviews b) remind & allow you to explore what work you want to pursue c) remind you of your skills & value & improve your confidence.- Don't ignore your self-care to ensure your mindset is staying resilient during your search - this should be a part of your everyday routineAdditionally, I’m linking a blog post about how to deal with burnout and maintain motivation during a job search here:, I’m Rachel, a Career Coach. I’d be happy to discuss this further if you want to hop on a call -- check my profile for how to book time with me. I’m here to help! Talk soon!