A reader writes:
I received the following rejection:
Thank you for applying for our CRM position. We appreciate your interest in our work and enjoyed the chance to review your resume. Our committee has now reviewed all the applicants and you were not selected for the interview process. Their decision in no way reflects upon your excellent skills and abilities.
Again, thanks for your interest and we wish you all the best in your career.
I’m not surprised about the rejection, though nonetheless disappointed. They were looking for depth in a particular aspect of a field where I have great breadth, but not the specific depth that they probably really need; hiring me would’ve required some slight reconfiguration of the job responsibilities. All of which is to say that this isn’t really sour grapes.
I know that I should appreciate that they sent anything at all, but I know that they used a software tool to collect applications and generate these letters that made it pretty easy (the job was as a consultant implementing this tool). So knowing that it was easy, I’m left wondering why they couldn’t take a minute to reread it, and perhaps remove an absurdly false statement like, “Their decision in no way reflects upon your excellent skills and abilities.” Unless they literally drew resumes at random to select interviewees, it’s just not possible for that statement to be true, and it’s insultingly patronizing to suggest it.
Am I too greedy to not only want a rejection letter, but a reasonably well-written one?
Unrealistic, I’d say.
Look, rejection letters are sent by busy people who want to update you on the status of your candidacy, and who don’t have the time to customize their message to every candidate. That’s why they’re using an automated system.
You could analyze the wording of rejection letters to death, trying to read between the lines for some message other than “you’re not the one we’re hiring.” But they’re rarely intended to convey anything at all beyond “you’re not the one we’re hiring” (and ideally, “thanks for your time and interest”). You can parse the hell out of them, but that’s still all they’re intended to convey.
Some companies communicate this more gracefully than others. (In fact, the majority often don’t bother to communicate it at all.) But frankly, this is a pretty nice rejection letter.
Could they have picked a better phrase than one so close to “it’s not you, it’s me,” when by definition it’s at least partly you? Sure. But being insulted by it? Come on. It’s human nature for the person doing the rejecting to want to soften it; it always will be. And it’s not exactly an unkind impulse, even if you would rather hear the unvarnished truth.
There are better things to be insulted by.