DFN: I’ve never had a problem in getting rejected! Its best just to think of rejection as a necessary evil of job search, and the quicker you can move on, the better, for you.

Good Ways to Get Rejected
By Brent Humphries

Brent Humphries was a technical project manager at the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care. His position was eliminated in June 2009, after five years with the nonprofit. Previously, he worked as an IT contractor for various financial services companies. Mr. Humphries, 37, earned a part-time MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

When courting my first girlfriend, in classic elementary school style, I wrote my request on a piece of spiral notebook paper, complete with convenient checkboxes for Yes and No. Unfortunately, I didn’t include my name. After asking around and discovering the identity of her “secret” admirer, she walked up to me and tossed my heart on my desk with a single word before walking away.

Looking back on that event in the context of my current job search, I’m nostalgic for the days when rejection was borne in the hand of a brown-eyed girl, but job rejection seems to come in all shapes and sizes today. Some employers send an email, or snail mail, a few will make phone calls, many don’t respond at all, and one employer rejected me in person. I feel I should get a rejection at the same level of interaction I’ve reached as part of the application process. If I’ve sent a resume by email, I should get an email notifying me of my rejection.

With Internet job posting and one-click multi-job applications, there is less justification for rejecting job applicants personally. If an employer hasn’t engaged an applicant, there’s no reason to engage at the point of rejection. But, applicants are vendors with a potentially valuable service to offer. Shouldn’t they be treated with the same consideration given to the vendor that supplies you with raw materials, or plans your corporate events?

Not surprisingly, applicants who use their personal networks seem to do better than applicants who go through the standard process. At the very least, it’s possible for someone in your personal network to find out why you didn’t get the job if they helped you get the interview in the first place. I was recently interviewed and rejected for a job, but there was no communication from the company to notify me (or my contact) of my rejection. After my contact exerted considerable effort to discuss my candidacy with the appropriate people, my contact was told that there were stronger candidates under consideration, and nothing more. Personally, I consider this type of response an HR-safe way of saying that I was qualified but not a good fit for the organization. Beyond that, I’m not sure I’ll ever know why.

I used to believe that employers who didn’t notify an applicant when a position was filled were unprofessional, but I’m rethinking that position because of the current job climate. With so many well-qualified applicants, some employers have changed their hiring process. These employers are clearly trying to minimize the time they spend evaluating candidates, so they choose to talk to a small number of candidates who fully meet every item on a long list of very specific qualifications. After a round of interviews where a good fit can’t be found, the list of qualifications is modified, and a new request goes out. I’ve seen more than one occasion where I’m a better candidate for the revised position than I was for the original one. For a situation like that, should the employer have sent a rejection notice after the first round of candidates had been selected? I don’t believe so.

Recently, I’ve been a candidate three times for what was essentially the same position. Each time, the company made a request to each of their contacts in the placement community to submit only their “best candidate” for consideration. I was submitted and rejected the first time, submitted and interviewed (then rejected) the second time, and submitted (and currently under consideration) the third time. Each time the job description changed, but not markedly so. Here’s hoping that the third time is a charm.


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