A reader writes:
I recently applied with a tailored resume and detailed cover letter to a company I was really excited about, but within one day I received a rejection email. I know technically I was not the perfect candidate (I’m a recent science Ph.D. grad trying to move into entry level energy/science business), so I understand being rejected.
However, now that I think about the rapid rejection, I’m beginning to wonder if a person ever saw my application or if I was just rejected immediately by a resume screening bot program. I had already talked with an acquaintance at the company to gain insight about the position and tailor my application materials. Do you think it would be wasting everyone’s time to further tailor my resume and cover letter and ask my friend to forward it to a real person to make sure someone actually considers my application? I never seem to hear back from any jobs I’m applying to, and I’m wondering if my lack of interviews is me not being or presenting myself as a qualified candidate or I’m getting screened in all these online applications before anyone actually sees my resume.
The fact that the rejection came after one day doesn’t indicate that a human didn’t look at your materials; usually if you’re going to be rejected in the first stage of screening, the person who makes that decision makes it in less than a minute from a quick scan of your materials. Most places still don’t send out the rejection note instantly, because it feels rude to reject people so quickly, but tons of rejection decisions — as opposed to notifications — are made in about 30 seconds, if not less.
I know everyone wants to believe that employers are carefully considering their applications, perhaps mulling them over for a while, but when you do a lot of hiring, it’s really easy to very quickly identify applications that aren’t quite right — or simply aren’t as right as some of the others.
Since you’d already talked to your friend about the role, I’d forward him your materials with a note that you received a quick rejection, and ask her if she’d be willing to give you any feedback on what you can do to be a stronger candidate for roles like this one in the future.