Long story short, in September 2021, I was hired as an associate lecturer at a British university. I was headhunted for the position. Since I was about to finish my PhD and I needed some experience, I decided to put myself forward.
I covered for a colleague who was on research leave. I became the interim coordinator of the MA programme and took responsibility for all the teaching, MA supervision, and administrative work.
The Department repeatedly asked me for many favours (covering for colleagues on sick leave, taking on marking, etc.), usually at very short notice. I accepted, even at the expense of my mental health. I delivered. The students were very happy with my performance and both the head of the department and my colleague were complimentary to me.
So, in November 2022, the department decides to advertise a permanent position. My only colleague strongly encouraged me to apply. It was basically to do the same job I had been doing but permanently. I listened to my colleague and went for it.
A few weeks later, I was invited to interview. Both my colleague and the head of the department were in the panel. I attended the interview and answered all their questions. They said they were really impressed. However, after days of silence and deliberation, they decided to offer the job to someone else.
My colleague got in touch with me shortly afterwards to give me 'a massive thank you' and told me that the decision they had to make was very difficult. Apparently, I was a very close 'second'. I now feel upset and disappointed. I kept the programme running when no one else was available.
I've applied for jobs in the past. Sometimes, I made it to the interview stage. I've dealt with rejection before (it's part of the process), but the feeling here is quite different. I feel I've been let down. Am I being unreasonable?