what’s up with this patronizing rejection letter?

A reader writes:

This email arrived in my inbox more than a week after I was supposed to be notified of this organization’s decision in hiring a higher-level volunteer position. The first sentence is the only one that seemed personally written for me.

I feel like I should respond politely but I’m angry that in all of this poetry they never state outright that they went with someone else nor that they are rejecting me. It’s so much language but completely indirect. Like, we decided? We decided what?!? I mean, I’m not obtuse so I know what they decided (also because they actually sent out an announcement about what they decided to all the org’s members).

Am I wrong to feel insulted by this form letter? Can I respond in a way that makes it clear that I don’t appreciate the mass message and the lack of directness, or is that just a no-go? Here’s the message:


Thank you so much for your application and time on our call!

On the bright side, you can wake to birds chirping. Not beeping texts.
On the bright side, you can stay out longer. Instead of going home early to get on a call.
On the bright side, you can have a bit more time to do other stuff — for your Org family!

In our search to revamp Org’s XYZ Program, we had a plethora of applicants and love.
That made it competitive. After much talking, texting, emailing and thought, we decided.

The bottom line: on the bright side, you have more time.
And we thank you so much for your desire to serve.

But wait don’t go! There are many other ways to be an awesome, active Org’er.

Reach out to your chapter president and board leaders. You could organize a city event.
That could be as easy as a drinks social on a Friday night. That could be a professional speaker spotlight with someone you’ve been wanting to meet – for a selfie or possible job. That could be a big fundraiser, like New York’s trivia bowl.

What we’re saying is, more opportunities await you.

What the hell? This is incredibly patronizing and weird.

Bad things happen when organizations try to get creative with rejections.

Three basic sentences is all it takes — some variation of this: “Thanks so much for your interest in the X role and the time you spent talking with us. The hiring process has been very competitive and after much consideration, we’ve decided to offer the position to another candidate. But we’re really grateful for your interest and wish you all the best in whatever comes next for you.”

Saying “on the bright side, you have more time” in place of a direct rejection is kind of awful. And yet it sounds like they genuinely thought it would be a nice message, so someone there is very, very tone-deaf.

Anyway, since this was a volunteer position and they’re trying to encourage you to stay involved with the organization, I do think you have room to say something to them about it. I wouldn’t complain about it being a mass mailing — form letters are really normal with rejections — but you could say something like this: “I appreciate you notifying me of your decision. For what it’s worth, I’d strongly prefer a straightforward rejection. This message felt pretty indirect, and even a bit patronizing. I wanted to mention it since I support your work and thought it might be useful feedback to have for future rejection letters. Thanks again for talking with me, and I look forward to staying involved with the organization in other ways.”

{ 283 comments… read them below }

      1. Mookie*

        Walking, talking universal New Yorker cartoon captions, every last person involved in writing and approving of this letter. This is gross. “Selfies” as a consolation prize for a volunteer position? Just stop. You’re making your organization look ridiculous.

    1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Probably the same people who write dippy poems in their wedding invitations to tell invitees that they have to deposit $$$ into the honeymoon fund, and make sure it covers the cost of their dinner at the reception.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Probably the same person who thought it’s ok to reject someone and then say “on the bright side, now you have time to do other volunteer work for us.” So much WTAF.

  1. Fake old Converse shoes*

    On the bright side, now I won’t apply to this company anymore. Nor everyone who I tell this story.

    1. Fake old Converse shoes*

      I mean, that’s what I’d tempted to would say if I received such a rejection. At best, it sounds tone-deaf. At worst, it’s sadistic. In both cases, I’d warn anyone I could not to apply to a place that thinks such a letter is ok.

  2. Ramona Flowers*

    Oh. Wow. This is dreadful.

    I’ve got to admit that when I started reading, I thought it was going to be someone objecting to your common or garden standard form letter. But this? Wow.

    OP, you could tell them how you feel but the phrase ‘throwing pearls after swine’ springs to mind – I am not sure it’s worth wasting your energy.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, I’d be very tempted to respond that the letter has put me off ever wanting to help this organization again.

        Surely they can’t be the only organization doing whatever it is they do. Their blithe assumption that you’ll be delighted to give them more of your time is breathtaking.

        1. Anon for Sure*

          Me too. However, I suspect that the organization may decide it’s a case of sour grapes that the OP didn’t get the job.

      2. MechanicalPencil*

        Exactly this. Thanks for the truly awful rejection, now I know to cut all ties of any sort with the organization.

      3. copy run start*

        Same here. I think this letter is incredibly insulting in how it trivializes OP’s candidacy… if it were me I’d never apply there again, never volunteer there again or donate again and spread the word that this is how this organization treats people who want to work there.

      4. Kathleen Adams*

        I wouldn’t blame the OP for thinking “I never want to volunteer here again” – that is the stupidest letter I’ve seen in a good, long while – but I strongly encourage her not to say so now. If she says that now, it will just sound like sour grapes – you know, “Whine, whine, whine, I didn’t get the job so I hate you forever.” I know that’s not what the OP is saying, but it might sound like that.

        Meanwhile, if the OP keeps to Alison’s script, there’s a decent chance that somebody will review the rejection letter and decide it was a bad idea.

        In fact, if the OP’s criticism gets to somebody above the “creative” letter writer, the reaction might very well be, “You have got to be kidding me. We didn’t really send this out to people, did we? Please tell me that you haven’t sent it yet.”

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Now I’m intrigued–is this form letter one person thinking “We need to pep up our standard boring rejection letter”? Or did a committee get together and collaborate via “I think it should have more exclamation points” and “I want to invoke a classic Disney princess feel, with birds and singing” and “I hate the oxford comma”?

        2. nonymous*

          OP did say that it was an application to a senior level volunteer position. I would assume that she has an existing relationship with the organization either as a volunteer or donor.

          I would be inclined to print out the email and chat up a friend/friendly acquaintance who works or volunteers in a senior capacity at the org and say, “Hey, I was really confused about the rejection letter I got re: senior volunteer position. Could you read it over and let me know what you think? Is it weird or is that just me?” And then after handing it over OP should gently change the subject, preferably to some task at hand. Basically, OP is circulating the email to people at the nonprofit that have a stake in resolving this issue for the sake of the org, but not making a scene or demanding a response.

          This will communicate that OP is not sour grapes and doesn’t demand that the contact address OP’s specific rejection. Nonprofits can be incredibly dysfunctional, so while the contact may agree that this email is horrific, they may not be able to do anything. Or they may be surprised-horrified and quietly resolve it behind the scenes with a flurry of internal activity. Either way it is not beneficial to the mission of the org for this email to become public knowledge (it may result in a reduction of volunteer efforts or donations), and the motivation to change really needs to come from within the org, not OP.

          1. nonymous*

            re-reading this I’m now thinking the word “confused” should be replaced with something along the lines of “It’s too bad I didn’t get the position/Jane will be a wonderful senior volunteer/etc”. OP isn’t confused whether she was rejected, but the letter is definitely weird.

          2. Letter Writer*

            I think the problem with this approach is that the email writer doesn’t really have anyone to report to, and the chapters are for the most part silo’d. Anyone I could forward it to would only be able to validate my feelings and nothing more. So it feels gossipy to me to forward it to others.

            1. Kathleen Adams*

              Well, it’s up to you, of course. But I for one could not keep quiet about any communication as bizarro as that! I would have to tell somebody, even if it were only a few questions to the letter writer. Alison’s come up with some polite ways to say “WTH?” and I would definitely be inclined to use them.

              Because they really, really, really need to never send that letter to anybody ever again.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Me three, seven, something. I guessed it would be a standard letter, or perhaps not perfectly phrased but not way out there.

      Then I finished the intro, hit ‘page down’ and… this starts off insulting and immediately goes south.

  3. beanie beans*

    Wow. If they want people to continue volunteering with them, you’d definitely do them a service by pointing out how insulting this response was.

  4. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I once lived in a street that had the same first three letters as my first name. Think Nancy and Nantucket Street. I got a rejection letter that started, “Dear Nantucket.” Ironically the job required attention to detail.

    But this rejection letter is over the top unprofessional and inappropriate.

    1. Elle*

      “Dear Nantucket” ??!! That’s just…wow.
      My first name and street name are VERY similar. But at least they are actual names!!

    2. Mephyle*

      Not so ironic. They needed someone with attention to detail because they obviously didn’t have such a person at the time.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        “We’re not an Org from Khartoum,
        So you can sleep up in your room
        You won’t have to fight
        In the wee hours of night
        As to who’ll be commander of whom”

        Acceptable, huh?

      2. Typhon Worker Bee*

        On the bright side, I won’t have to deal
        With more crap like this terrible spiel.
        I think you’d better
        Rethink this whole letter
        If your request for more service is real.

    3. Amber T*

      Listen, I’d be pissed if that happened to me… but I do admit I chuckled over this. Sorry :/

    4. Collarbone High*

      My colleague once requested that HR post a job opening, and his boss signed the paperwork, as always.

      HR sent the hiring manager and the boss rejection letters saying they were unqualified for the job. To the office. It still blows my mind that whoever prepared the letters didn’t notice that the two “applicants” a) had the same address and b) had the same address as our office.

      The hiring manager framed the letter and hung it on his wall.

      1. Shiara*

        This is an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s been a rough day, but I am now attempting to stifle my giggles so that my coworkers don’t think I’ve cracked from the stress.

    5. OhBehave*

      I received a rejection letter addressed to the wrong person. This was a huge corporation too. I was stunned! Correct address, wrong person. This was 25 years ago and I still remember that moment.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I did that once. I felt so bad – I had two rejection letters to send and I accidentally switched them because I got distracted by a fire drill. One of the women sent a very snotty email to my boss about it (I didn’t even realize it had happened until the snotty email – the email was WAY worse than my mix up, believe me – it was quite over the top). The other person emailed as well but was very gracious.

  5. many bells down*

    On the bright side, you’re unemployed!

    I mean … that’s what that says, pretty much. You don’t have to get up in the mornings because you don’t have a job. Yikes.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      That’s how I felt about it too…. none of that is necessarily a good thing for the people you’re sending this too.

    2. Sarah*

      I mean, this is a volunteer thing, so it’s not like the person is losing out on paid work. But it is still…wow, pretty terrible all around.

      1. Snark*

        It’s even worse because it’s volunteer work. LW chose to devote her free time to this organization. Telling her to value her newfound free time is literally throwing it into her face. The ingratitude is mindbending.

        1. Witty Nickname*

          They didn’t even say that she’d have free time though, really. They basically said, “We didn’t pick you, but that’s ok because now you’ll have time to volunteer for us in other ways! Isn’t that fantastic?!”

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            “Listen, org–can I call you org? Anyhow, org, if I’m volunteering with you then I’m not relaxing, phone off, listening to the birdsong. And I now realize that’s what I truly value: birdsong.”

    3. Data Analyst / Software Engineer*

      I missed the part about being a volunteer gig. My first thought was, “hello, stupid! I’m trying to trade time for money. I don’t need more time… I need more money!”

    4. Good Morning JSA*

      Good morning, JSA! I have a feeling that it’s going to be a godawful day; the Sun in the sky has a scowl on its face, and it’s flipping the bird to the Job Centre place! Oh boy, it’s sh**e to say – good morning, JSA!

    5. Fishcakes*

      On the bright side, you don’t have to work with us!
      I imagine this place is just like Happy Time Temporary Services, with a Delores Herbig who strictly enforces smiles and cheerfulness in all employees.

  6. Artemesia*

    I laughed and laughed. Nearly 50 years ago I left my first husband after putting him through law school while I worked all day and got my masters at night and he played bridge and contributed nothing to the household in money or housekeeping. A few weeks after leaving him I got an envelop filled with cash when he sold our sailboat (bought of course with money I had earned). With the cash was a little note that said something like “Dream of pretty clothes, a nice vacation, a chance to splurge a little on yourself. Dance, travel, enjoy yourself with this small gift. ” and on and on in that vein. Half the money on a boat I bought, money that belonged to me and not a generous gift from him.

    I see he has gone on to write rejection letters for jerkish organizations. This letter is a masterpiece of its sort; peak patronizing. Thanks for sharing it with us in all its adorableness.

    1. offonaLARK*

      Sorry about the guy, but thanks for sharing the story! What an ass. These are making me laugh today.

      1. Artemesia*

        Well in his defense I think his flowery love letters actually wooed me in the first place so just desserts. Just so happy I moved on and that letter actually helped.

    2. Dana*


      My dad once, many years too late, paid back 2000 dollars he had stolen from me. Then after I cashed the check, he said he thought I owed him a 5 minute phone conversation once a month after such a generous gift. (We were estranged by my choice) and railed against my ingratitude when I refused.

      But even that is less obnoxious than your ex’s message!

      1. tigerStripes*

        The “gift” of paying back stolen money. What is with people who think that returning something stolen is a huge favor?

      2. Former Employee*

        I think it was a Hax column where someone wrote in and said they were planning to repay a loan as a wedding gift because they couldn’t do that and buy a nice gift. The response was that repayment of a loan is not a gift and that the letter writer should repay the loan now and then give the couple a card and a small gift as a wedding present.

    3. SpinachInquisition*

      Lol… good grief. Looks like you lost about 200lbs of b.s. right there! Carry on!

  7. Jeanne*

    That is downright rude. Whoever wrote that is a jerk. But on the bright side you don’t have to work with these awful people. Who would write something like that? What a way to tarnish your reputation.

  8. CR*

    LOL try saying that to someone who’s out of a job. On the bright side, you don’t have to wake up and go to work every morning!

  9. Some2*

    good night! that’s easily one of the worst rejection letters I have ever read. It almost reads like someone was writing a poem. I’d drug test the individual who composed it immediately.

  10. Jessica*

    It reads like someone got their rejection letter-writing skills from The Daily Skimm (which also has that overly cutesy schtick going on).

    Note to everyone everywhere: delivering serious news shouldn’t be done in cutesy trend-speak.

    1. SignalLost*

      I read it as someone who was nervous about rejecting people and taking refuge in too many words. I’ve once or twice way overthought something and it ended up awkward and unnaturally phrased. There’s a lot of emotional labour going on here that shouldn’t be.

      1. Business Cat*

        That’s what I thought as well! I’m in the process of evolving my (long, meandering, awkward) writing style to something like this: Type ALL THE WORDS, then pare it down as much as possible (like I just did with this comment!).

  11. Cait*

    I’d be tempted to send them a link to this post with a note to encourage them to read the comment section.

    1. Financial Analyst*

      I’ll bet they still wouldn’t get it. They will still think it is cute and we are all big babies. They may even dig in their heels more.

  12. Snark*

    I’d really like to meet the persons who wrote and approved this letter. Not because I think they can give any more of a clue as to what the hell they were thinking than “we thought it was cute lol” but because I wish to sit awhile and study them, like Dian Fossey and the gorillas in the mist. Their doings would fascinate me.

    1. Snark*

      It’s just so….magnificently tone-deaf. Like, no, you idiots, people won’t be cheered up by four – FOUR – reminders that they now have lots of free time. It’s a volunteer position! You’re dealing with people who already decided what they wanted to use their free time for, and that’s to help your asinine org! At least do them the goddamned courtesy of honoring their desire to volunteer, for Chrissake!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m seriously wondering if it could be the work of a committee.

        “We need to make this less harsh.”
        “Positive. Point out all the positives.”
        “There’s an oxford comma here: kill it.”
        “Kill… oxford… comma. Okay. Anything else?”
        “Oooh! Talk up donating time and skills.”
        “We should take out the part about deciding to hire someone else–too negative.”

    2. kittymommy*

      What would make it even better is if they had little doodles of puffy clouds, rainbows and unicorns in the margins.

  13. PollyQ*

    OH. EMM. GEE.

    “You suck, we would never hire someone like you” would be better than this. (Well, maybe not, but it’s close.)

    1. PollyQ*

      wait, I thought of another: “On the plus side, you won’t have to work with people who think this is good rejection letter.”

    2. Zip Zap*

      I would love to receive a rejection letter saying, “You suck. We would never hire you.” It would be a nice break from all the bovine shitake out there.

  14. Elle*

    This is god-awful. It sounds like something President Snow would send out in The Hunger Games.
    I’m not kidding when I say whoever wrote this, and/or thought it was appropriate rejection letter, ought to be let go. It’s heinous.

  15. Kelly White*

    I once got a card from my co-workers after I’d been let go. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the sales guy (who’d been instrumental in getting me fired) signed the card and wrote “remember us for any of your teapot needs!” As if I would never get a job in the teapot field again.
    People are weird.

    1. many bells down*

      Four years ago, I had a place ghost on me after two interviews and a “we’ll set up a time for you to observe a class after the holidays” (it was a teaching position). But to this day, I get emails from the company asking them to rate the classes. Classes that I have never seen nor been enrolled in.

  16. Granny K*

    Hopefully it was an email. I would imagine if it was hard copy, flower petals and glitter would drift majestically downward as you opened the letter.

    1. Granny K*

      Unless it was sent to you via a Jacquie Lawson animated email with music…. in which case…nevermind.

  17. Chriama*

    Is it wrong that when I read this letter I thought “Millenials”? Either someone who thinks they’re connecting with millenials by writing this way or someone who thinks this is how millenials write? It’s just so… trying too hard.

    1. stephistication*

      I am a professional millennial and non of us write like this or think this is cute – nor would I feel connected based on the verbiage. As a group we are not all try-hards.

      1. Liane*

        I was just thinking as I read your comment, that my 2 kids are younger Millennials (college) and if I knew they wrote something like this, I would be writing Carolyn Hax, or at least AAM’s weekend thread, wanting to know where I and their teachers had gone wrong, and what I had standing to do to try & fix it.

        1. Liane*

          In other words, they don’t write like this, and neither does anyone else I know in that age group.

      2. Breda*

        But you have to admit, someone who has bought into all that “Millennials need coddling” nonsense might very well write this letter! And I think that’s the point Chriama is making.

        1. Antilles*

          Yeah, this reads like a letter written by someone who doesn’t actually know any real Millennials, but has seen the news programs and thinks the letter needs some over-the-top coddling to not come off as too mean.

        2. Zip Zap*

          Yeah, it could be. Funny how the same things are said about every generation. Forty years ago, it could have been, “These Baby Boomers need coddling.” It’s as if people forget being on the other side of that equation.

    2. Letter Writer*

      I am not completely sure of the person’s age, but I think that they are maybe two years older than me, and not a millennial. Neither am I.

      1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

        Indeed. Anyone who thinks being an idiot/jerk/whatever is unique to one particular bracket needs to get out more.

    3. Anony Mouse*

      I’d think the millennials old enough for the workforce would’ve received enough rejection letters to know better.

      1. Kay*

        Exactly. We millenials were all entering the job market when the recession was still going strong. We’re plenty used to rejection. This reads to me like a Baby Boomer who thinks they’re being cutesy.

      1. Liane*

        Hello? Is suggesting it was written by someone of specific Gender and Race, as well Age, *really* better than speculating it was from a Millennial, solo? Seriously…

        Asks the 54 year old woman of Irish/English heritage

        1. Anony Mouse*

          I think this is a reference to an episode of Kimmy Schmidt. If you do a YouTube search for “Kimmy Schmidt Linda,” click the first link (“Baby Linda”) and start the video at 3:20.

      2. Elle*

        I am LOL’ing, despite the fact that I am a 48 year old white woman, whose name starts with “L!”

      3. Artemesia*

        Linda sounds right to me but it reminds me of those poems written by old ladies for church newsletters, or the little signs admonishing people not to do this or that but in cutesy prose. I am good with ‘please take only one donut’ — but the cutesy poem about this just being a little breakfast snack and if you want more you need to go to a restaurant at the continental breakfast at the B&B drive me nuts.

        1. Publishing Intern*

          Ooh you’re right, that’s exactly what this reminds me of! I’m planning my wedding right now and there are so many cutesy little poems that people use to make their message sound more polite. To me, it just makes them sound “cute”ly, tone-deaf-ly impolite- just like this rejection! Plus they’re usually written with an awful sense of meter and rhyme, which makes it even worse.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              I nearly did that yesterday, but thankfully lost connection on train at *just* the right time!

        2. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

          I don’t know who this person is, but they’re the same person that puts a “be a sweetie, wipe the seatie” sign in the bathrooms.

          1. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

            I suppose that makes them my grandmother.

            If my grandmother has come back from the dead to organize volunteers, OP, you have dodged a bullet.

    4. Emi.*

      Guys, Chriama saying this sounds like something someone would write because *they* thought it would help them connect with millennials is not milliennial-bashing.

      1. Myrin*

        You took the words right out of my mouth – Chriama says this sounds like someone who drank the “millenials are so-and-so and communicate in such-and-such ways” kool-aid and thought this “hip and cool” style of rejection letter would appeal to that group.

      2. The OG Anonsie*

        Yeah, I think folks are skimming the comment and not actually catching what she’s saying.

      3. Letter Writer*

        Well, it’s possible they thought I was a millennial, that’s true. But I imagine that the other people who applied to volunteer are of all ages, and if the same letter went out to all of them, then I don’t think this is the right read of the situation.

    5. Almond Milk Latte*

      It comes off way too Steve Buscemi-with-a-skateboard to be an actual Millennial.

      (I’d link the image for context, but to avoid moderation, Google “How do you do, fellow kids?”)

    6. oldbiddy*

      My thought (before I saw the part about it being a non-profit) was that this was a particularly horrible startup company. I don’t think millenials write this way, but I have noticed a weird amount of informality and trying to be edgy in some company websites/emails, i.e. a Doge meme advertising a users group meeting.

    7. Princess Carolyn*

      I think it’s more an attempt to be conversational and write the way people actually talk. Normally, I appreciate that kind of thing, but the content really misses the mark.

    8. Chriama*

      Hello reading comprehension… I said it seemed like it was written by someone who has a mistaken idea of how to connect to millenials, not that it was written by a millenial. It sounds like it was written by a stereotype or a caricature of a person instead of by a real person, not an actual real person.

    9. MommaTRex*

      My guess was that it was someone who has been in the working world WAAAAYYYY too long and needs to retire already.

  18. tigerlily*

    Yikes. I felt so much embarrassment reading this rejection letter, I had to read it in waves. I just couldn’t do it all at one time.

    1. Had Matter's Pea Tarty*

      The sign of an unsound mind, or so says Sir Pratchett.

      Still. If I got that letter I’d consider it a bullet well dodged. If they’re rejection letters were like that, well… then their offices and meetings would make me slip into a hyperglycaemic coma!

  19. DecorativeCacti*


    I understand the impulse to say something. This would sour me from ever working with/for this organization again. If you do respond, give yourself a few days so you don’t come off as typical pissed off rejected candidate.

  20. AW*

    I think the worst part is the, But wait don’t go!. It just magnifies everything wrong with this.

    I see this frequently on Stack Overflow: people who will insult you right before asking (or demanding) you help them. It blows my mind that people think this will work.

    I guess they don’t actually think this is insulting, which implies whoever wrote it has never been unemployed for long.

    1. required name*

      It’s the Mr. Darcy view of the world: I can spend five pages insulting someone and they will totes still marry me after that.

      Not to be confused with the Collinses of the world, who force themselves on you when you’d rather be doing something else, or actually are doing something else, demanding that you help them RIGHT NOW and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. (Oh, the Terrible Intern stories…)

      1. Mookie*

        So very Darcy. ‘Let me count the ways you are unsuitable in every way. Don’t forget to write us a check for the holidays.’ Perfect.

    1. Hunger Games Summer*

      Glad I am not the only one who for no reasonable explanation felt that why. It just had that vibe to me too.

  21. fposte*

    Holy cow. I would say for me the one that particularly burns is “On the bright side, you can have a bit more time to do other stuff — for your Org family!” Don’t tell people the bright side is that they get to work for you for free.

    1. Mephyle*

      And it makes less than zero sense—negative sense, considering that the rejection is for a volunteer job.

      1. AW*

        Oh lord, for some reason my brain skipped right over that. I got that it was a volunteer organization but I thought the particular position was a paid one.

        So yeah, negative sense is being made in that letter.

    2. Djuna*

      Dear Org,
      **cues up some Sister Sledge**
      We aren’t family,
      I wrote better letters aged 3.
      We aren’t family,
      Thank you for setting me free….
      **record scratch**

  22. Suzy Q*

    I might be tempted to turn the tables on them and respond as if they had given me the job, using similar ridiculous language. Childish, sure, but that letter was bonkers.

  23. TootsNYC*

    I would be so tempted to say,

    “I’m confused, so I wanted to double check. I think this email is telling me that you’ve chosen another candidate instead of me–true? If so, of course I wish that person well in their new role, but I am quite disappointed not to be chosen. I had so hoped to work with you, and of course to be earning money; there really isn’t any bright side to not getting the job.
    “Thanks for the encouragement to continue volunteering for the organization. The cause means a lot to me, but that’s really not any substitute for paid employment.”

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes, this. I tend to parse everything in an extremely exacting manner, and since it isn’t clear from this that the OP was rejected, I would probably call and ask whoever wrote this nauseating drivel to please clarify whether I had been offered the position or not. And I hope everyone who received such a wishy-washy, unnecessarily verbose and indirect letter would do the same, making the writer waste days on the phone directly confronting the issue they tried so hard to avoid.

  24. Letter Writer*

    LW/OP here.

    Alison, your advice is spot on. Thank you so much for this. I have to think a bit more about whether I want to send that feedback or not. The reason I’m hesitating is because the person who composed the email is a person from a different branch of the org than the one I have most contact with, on the other side of the country. I never have to cross paths with them again, if I don’t want to. Except maybe at the annual conference, and even then I can find a way to steer clear.

    Some clarifications about this – I have a job. I’m a freelancer technically, but I work anywhere from 20-40+ hours per week for clients and also for my own personal revenue-generating projects, and I have a partner who works more than full-time and a kid and manage a lot of the household labor, so I’m not actually looking for another job. This volunteer opp with an org in my professional industry, offered about 5 hours of work a week, and the reason I applied for it is because I have a lot of work experience doing what the position would have required me to do, and some personal passion for it. I wanted to give back and maintain a connection to ‘doing good’ in this world. And since I don’t have a 9-5 it felt like an easy thing for me to make time to do it. I’ll admit that putting that work on my resume would definitely give me a boost in the future.

    When I wrote to Alison maybe I got hung up on the form letter and the indirectness of the letter but what steams me now is how freaking condescending this person is. I think maybe the indirectness bothered me because the person works in (and our industry is) media and communications. So I felt like the email was a reflection that the person wasn’t actually good at what they’re supposed to be good at. You’re in communications, communicate! Anyway. The patronizing tone really bothers me. It shows me that this is not a person I want to be working closely with, and I am thankful I dodged a bullet.

    I don’t want to penalize the national org for one person’s patronizing letter. I actually do still want to volunteer my time with my local chapter because this is a cause I really believe in, it’s in my work industry, and on a personal note – networking can open up professional opportunities for me down the line. I do think that if I send a version of Alison’s message to the email-writer, that it wouldn’t necessarily follow me back to my activities in my local chapter. I hope not.

    1. Letter Writer*

      More clarifications. The main leadership of this non-profit (other than the administrative arm) are comprised of working professionals from around the country volunteering their time as well. I don’t believe this person is getting paid to do their work and it’s on top of their regular job. There was a committee of two people doing this hiring, but the rejection was sent to me the one person and addressed by their name only at the bottom of the email. So I think either they composed it solely, or possibly in conjunction with one more person, but it’s not the work of a marketing department.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        LW, I have volunteered in several organizations over the years, and in many cases, the people actually running the groups often have little or no insight into the details of what their volunteers are doing. There have been multiple times when they have been completely shocked at statements made in the name of that organization by a volunteer. Please do not assume that people active in this group are aware of this. Share it with someone you trust, since this person is doing damage to the organization’s reputation.

      2. MsM*

        If I worked for the national org, I’d want to know something like this was going out under our banner so that I or the appropriate supervisor could either have a conversation with the person about what the right balance between rejecting people while encouraging them to stay involved looks like (and whether those things should be part of the same message), or make sure the task was reassigned to someone else. Maybe start with the local chapter if you know who’s in charge and that they can do something about it, but I’d follow up.

      3. Chaordic One*

        The patronizing letter really sucked, but from what you’ve added, I would worry that your pushback (much deserved, by the way) would be interpreted as your not being committed to the cause, the goals, and the mission of the organization. I hope I’m wrong about that.

      4. Zip Zap*

        Ok, that makes a little more sense. Could it be someone who’s new to the field or new to this type of work? I’m hoping it’s something like that. Maybe they’d be receptive to feedback if you found a good way to word it.

        1. Letter Writer*

          They are not new to the field or new to the work – they have to communicate professionally every day doing their day job. I’m not sure that my feedback would be well taken by them, but rather, it’s something at this point I’m considering doing for me. Them not sending out similar rejections in the future would just be a bonus.

          1. Zip Zap*

            Wow. That’s terrible. If it’s clearly someone who would know better, I would consider saying something to someone else. It’s tricky because you don’t want to sound like you’re going behind someone’s back to sabotage them, but you also have to do what’s best for the org. They’d probably appreciate this being brought to their attention.

            In similarly delicate situations, I have been known to feign semi-innocent and just happen to CC someone on a response to something like this.



            Thank you for the update!

            Looping in Angela from our local chapter so she’s aware they can go ahead and assign me more projects.

            Have a great weekend!

            Zip Zap

            Ok, that might not be the ideal way to word it, but something along those lines.

            Then next time you see the local person you CC’d, you can talk about it.

    2. periwinkle*

      Whoa, wait a second…

      This was written by someone involved with a PROFESSIONAL organization. A PROFESSIONAL organization in the COMMUNICATIONS industry.

      I’m speechless, or at least I will be after I stop laughing.

    3. Been there*

      Is there someone in your local chapter you can share your thoughts (or even the letter itself) with?

      I would be mortified if I found out my org sent out a letter like this and would would take it up the chain without outing the person who gave it to me.

      1. Breda*

        Yeah, I’d go to the person I actually knew there and be like, “Look, I’m excited to keep volunteering at this branch, and I know you have absolutely no input on this letter, but is there someone you can bring it to? It does not reflect well on this organization.”

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Yes, given the update…exactly this. I’d be forwarding it to my contact with, “Just so you know, this is the kind of form letter Jane Tonedeaf is sending out on behalf of the organization to people who apply for a volunteer position. I’m not upset that I wasn’t chosen for this particular job, but I find the tone of the response really off-putting and I worry that other people who get the same note are going to be turned off from working with Org.”

          Hopefully the contact has the power to do something about it, and if she doesn’t, at least she’ll know that Jane Tonedeaf is someone to watch out for.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        This is what I would do. You could even frame it as, “Look, I understand what the person who wrote this was going for and it’s not going to change anything with my efforts for the local chapter. But, I could see someone with less connection to the organization being put off from further engagement.” Then let them decide how to handle it.

        I worked for an organization that sounds like it had a similar audience, except we had a main headquarters office with paid staff and then volunteer leadership positions at the chapter level that we relied on to help engage the local membership. We typically had a healthy number of volunteers, but we recognized that we were lucky to have so many great volunteers that wanted to stay involved with the organization – so potentially turning a bunch of them off to doing anything with us in the future would be awful, and we would definitely want to know that that was happening. Although it sounds like most of your organization is run by volunteers, I’m guessing that their reaction will be similar.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I would definitely consider showing it to someone locally. Explain that this is not helping and it probably hurting the local group. Ask what can be done to discourage the unprofessional communication.

        OP, if you got something like this then probably other local people are getting similar things. Your local group needs to know this is happening. This will cause alienation from your group if left unchecked. I know personally, I would be done volunteering. I have never, ever seen a reaction from a volunteer group like this one. It’s not normal at all.

      4. Letter Writer*

        The problem with contacting someone locally is that they have no jurisdiction over what the email writer does. They have nothing to do with each other. So to me it just feels like I’d be gossiping, if I forward it to anyone else in the org, because all I’d be looking for is validation.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          I can certainly understand that. It may be that, if there is a reasonable route to take, that your raising it appropriately could prevent harm to a cause about which you obviously care a great deal.

          Note that I don’t know the details of the setup – but some things that might be relevant –

          Even if the chapters are completely independent and a person in one will not directly report to anyone in another, having the top person in one chapter mention to top person in another “hey – did you know your folks are doing this? It could damage our reputation and put off future volunteers.” may have an effect.

          Is there an overarching organisation? Is there someone there that may be responsible for overall communication and image control?

          I suspect the question may be how to say “oi, stop damaging us!” rather than if. Because they are damaging your org.

        2. Zip Zap*

          Yes, but at least you’d have someone to talk to about what the best course of action (if any) is. Maybe talk to someone who would be use good judgement and wouldn’t let it turn into gossip?

    4. Anon for Sure*

      With the additional information I would strongly encourage providing feedback. I work for a professional organization that deals with thousands of volunteers, and if one of our volunteers had received the type of rejection that you had received I’d want to know so that the staff person who composed the letter could receive some retraining. Communication with volunteers should be no less serious and clear than it is with paid staff.

    5. Granny K*

      Honestly, I wish you’d send back a reply that said “Great! When do I start?!” And then see what they do.

    6. TootsNYC*

      ” The reason I’m hesitating is because the person who composed the email is a person from a different branch of the org than the one I have most contact with, on the other side of the country. I never have to cross paths with them again, if I don’t want to.”

      But that makes this so much easier!

      You can give the feedback to the people you actually ARE in contact with (“I got this email from your colleagues, and it really hit me wrong. I like the organization, so I thought I’d explain the problem to you, and maybe you can get word to them about how it was received.”) Hopefully they’ll agree with you. Then they can turn it into internal feedback.

  25. only acting normal*

    I once received a face-to-face rejection of a promotion that was so indirectly worded, and super upbeat, and full of outlandish management speak, that I truly didn’t understand they were saying “no” for several minutes.
    But this is worse.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        I feel like this is exactly the type of rejection letter Chris would write. Luckily Ben would intercept and re-write it for him.

  26. Murphy*

    WTF? That is awful. I can’t imagine why they thought something so cutesy and indirect (since, as the OP pointed out, it never actually says they chose someone else) was the way to go. I think it’s worth a mention, particularly if you are/were interested in staying involved.

  27. Tomato Frog*

    I can almost hear the conversation that spawned this. It included the phrase “disrupt the rejection letter.” And they aren’t allowed to call it a “rejection letter” — instead they invented some other name for it, like “encouragement letter” or “freedom letter” or “another door opens letter”. An earlier draft did include the phrase “We decided to go with another candidate,” but then they had a meeting where they were arguing about whether that phrase was too negative. Finally some brave thought leader swooped in and crossed out everything after “we decided.” Everyone else at the meeting oohed and aaahed. This I believe.

    1. FD*


      FREEDOM. LETTER. This is truly glorious and deserves to become a site meme alongside Wakeen and Chocolate Teapots.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I saw a playground called Freedom Park.
        It’s surrounded by chain link fence.
        I don’t understand why people do not see what is wrong here.

        1. cookie monster*

          I am a mom of a toddler. A park with a fence IS a freedom park, because it means I get to sit on a bench for a few minutes while he runs and climbs like a monkey and I don’t have to discourage him from running into the street because the fence keeps him in.
          I totally understand your comment, but this was my first thought as I purposely seek out fenced parks/playgrounds.

      2. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

        I’m honestly really liking freedom letter as a legit term for something else – resignation letters.

  28. Fake Eleanor*

    This feels very strongly like someone in marketing insisted that rejection letters needed to reflect the brand voice — and that that was more important than clearly communicating information.

    This isn’t to slam marketing departments, but I’ve worked with the occasional brand evangelist who would try to overwhelm informational communications with personality.

    I agree with Alison’s advice — you would be doing the organization a service by politely but firmly telling them that this message comes across as patronizing rather than friendly, and that it could alienate potential volunteers.

    1. Letter Writer*

      My takeaway from my conversation with the email writer is that this email is reflective of THEIR brand voice, if that makes sense. I absolutely believe in their sincerity in writing it, and therefore it makes me relieved that I am not working with them, waking up to their texts, etc.

  29. DCGirl*

    That’s just awful, and it’s a sign that you really don’t want to work/volunteer for them. For some reason, non-profits think that they can be cute sometimes. A museum I applied to one included one free ticket with their rejection letter. It was not enough to overcome the fact that the interviewer was so far off schedule that day that I got a parking ticket.

  30. This Daydreamer*

    I was once fired after my first day at a job working for a coffee shop. It seems that the schedule that the manager and I made wasn’t going to work out. I got the phone call about ten minutes after I get home. The person on the phone signed off my saying that they looked forward to seeing me as a good customer in the future.

    That letter is ten times as nauseating as that. It is so condescending and tone deaf that is is awe inspiring. It’s almost a work of art.

  31. Geneva*

    Could you imagine getting a rejection letter like this for a paid position?…

    On the bright side, you won’t have a commute
    On the bright side, you can wear sweats everyday
    On the bright side, you have more time to enjoy your home before you get evicted/face foreclosure!

    Eff this tone deaf nonsense.

  32. Kristine*

    Heh, I almost prefer the sneering rejection letter detailing all of my faults to this little “It’s life wonderful” slap in the face! Count yourself lucky. “Org family”? Yeeccchhh! Birds chirping? A little bird told me this is probably a horrible employer.

  33. Lizard*

    LW, I’m glad you can continue working with your local chapter and not have to deal with the writer of this asinine letter, and if it were just a common-or-garden poorly worded rejection I would say don’t worry about it and move on. The thing is, that this letter is actively making people angry, and if this is representative of her general communication style, she is likely to be actively hurting the organization with people who don’t have the level of goodwill toward it that you do. I’d drop an email to her boss, if you know who that is, and just use Alison’s wording. OMG.

  34. Bea*

    I read the letter thinking “oh come on, it can’t be that bad…” WRONG, self, dead wrong. Whoever wrote that is ridiculous and out of touch. Ick.

  35. MollyG*

    I think rejection letters are not appropriate at all after someone has had an on-site interview, especially if the person had to travel far for the interview. In these cases a phone call from the hiring manager is the proper course. I have had a number of on-site interviews and all but one sent a form rejection e-mail. For the one person who called me, I was still quite bummed for not getting the job, but I had high respect for the manager to call me.

    Form e-mail rejections are disrespectful of those who took time and effort to travel for an interview.

    1. Kathleen Adams*

      I disagree. I can see there is room for some disagreement here, but I would rather hear by email than by an awkward phone call – and by “awkward,” I mean awkward for both parties. I’m personally not likely to cry or anything, but assuming it’s a job I wanted, I’d be pretty bummed, and I’d rather not have to pretend to be a good little sport about it on the phone. I’d rather be a good little sport by email.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        Me too. I’m not even sure how I’d react in the moment, either, and I’d feel a lot of pressure to react in the “right” way which I’m not even sure what that would be. I’d be worried about coming off too disappointed or not disappointed enough.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Add to it that, if I get a phone call, I will probably assume I got the job.

        I send rejection emails, but they’re very clearly personal, well-thought-out ones; I don’t just send some form.

        I agree w/ you that a form e-mail rejection is disrespectful of someone who took time and effort to interview.

      3. MsM*

        Ditto. The only time I’d really appreciate a direct conversation would be if I’d been rejected for an internal position, or had a strong existing relationship with the people involved. Otherwise, just let me lick my wounds.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I have only a couple of times called to say “sorry no,” and I was worried about giving them the wrong impression, so I was quick to say, “I’m sorry I have bad news.”

          And the only reason I called was because I had REALLY liked them as a candidate, and I wanted them to know that for some reason (felt they could use the encouragement, etc.).

          Or maybe I had another lead, or I wanted to let them know that I could hire them freelance if they were interested (and left it up to them to call me).

      4. Zip Zap*

        I think bad news should be given in person or by phone, the idea being to use the right tone and give the person a chance to ask questions. It’s friendlier. You never want to burn bridges with people you reject (except in extreme cases). They could be your future customers, competitors, vendors, all sorts of things.

        Keep it short and to the point, of course, but treat them like a real person who you enjoyed talking to.

    2. SarahTheEntwife*

      I’d ideally like something that feels at least slightly personalized, but I’d much prefer to get a rejection in writing. That way I can have any initial anger or sadness in the privacy of my own head and compose a professional-sounding thank-you-for-considering-me email, rather than having to do that on the spot on the phone (possibly in a public place or at work).

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        Yes, exactly. I can’t think of many good places to get that kind of phone call except at home, but I can think of lots of really lousy places to get that kind of call.

    3. Perpetua*

      This topic of “is it better to (be) reject(ed) by email or phone” often comes up, and although some people, like you, prefer a call and find it more respectful, the majority of people (me included) prefer to get bad news via email, allowing us to react to it in private.

      I think that, ideally, the rejection email would include at least a short personalized part (“Thank you for coming all the way from Farville”, or “We appreciated your expertise in exotic pottery”) so that they don’t read too much like a form rejection letter. Although, as someone who used to send a bunch of them in the role of HR Manager, it really isn’t viable to write a completely new letter for each person you interview, so I went with the form letter (along the lines of Alison’s script above) + slight personalization whenever possible, especially if the person got to a latter stage in the process.

    4. Antilles*

      The problem with phone calls is that many people take the rejection really personally (which, 99% of the time, it’s not). They’ll cry or get upset. The candidate will try to argue with me based on some usual bad ‘gumption’ advice*. They’ll get mad and tell me I’m making a mistake. Or I’ll miss them, entirely and leave a voice mail, which defeats the whole purpose of a call. They’ll sound disappointed – which is reasonable, but will make me feel guilty about making the decision I need to make. Etc.
      *Side note: I don’t understand why people do this. You arguing with me is not going to make me change my mind. Know why? Because if you were close enough that I had doubts about it, I would be asking you questions rather than flatly rejecting you.

    5. Letter Writer*

      I’m actually ok with the email method as a response. We only had a call, not an in person interview.

      1. MommaTRex*

        Can you imagine how this particular letter would have translated to a phone call? Double yikes!!!

    6. MollyG*

      I understand that some people like the e-mail rejections. But I hope that we can agree that sending the same form e-mail to someone that travels for an interview that you send to someone who you reject right away is not appropriate.

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        Sure, it would be nice if they managed to personalize it a little. But the way I look at it, unless they have something specific that they need to say to *me* in particular – “We have selected another candidate for this job, but we have another opening that we’d like to consider you for” or something specific and concrete like that – it’s going to be sort of a form letter anyway.

        Yes, it would be nice if it weren’t an obvious form letter, but come on: At best it’s going to be a formulaic letter. It’s unrealistic to expect anything else, or so it seems to me. I mean, there are only so many ways to say “You didn’t get the job in spite of your many excellent qualities, but we enjoyed meeting you and we wish you the best of luck.”

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      I disagree – I’d prefer to get an email than a phone call. The call would be too awkward – what do you say afterwards. “Hi – sorry, you didn’t get the job.” “OK” “… so… you were really good…” “… thanks…”

  36. SarahTheEntwife*

    I find it extra-facepalmy that they give that weirdly chipper reassurance that you have more free time…and the encourage you to spend it volunteering for them, just not in this position. Pick one thing or another, weird-rejection-letter writer! At least be consistent!

  37. Princess Carolyn*

    There are often many bright sides to being rejected, but that’s not something you speculate about as person doing the rejection. That goes double for any situation that involves someone’s livelihood. “You’ll have more free time!” is cold comfort when you’re not sure how you’ll pay for food and shelter.

  38. Not a Morning Person*

    I haven’t read every comment, but enough to see the general consensus and I agree! But I do think it also looks like whoever wrote/sent this poorly conceived rejection letter is probably not experienced with professional standards of communication. It reads like something written by Dr. Seuess or a nursery rhyme. It seems like they are attempting to soften the rejection but instead ended up being insulting.
    Alison’s advice, as usual, is spot on. It might be helpful to respond when you are feeling less insulted and more amused and add something about expecting something a more standard and professional tone in a rejection letter.

    1. Fifty Foot Commute*

      Yes, that’s it. It sounds like Dr. Seuss wrote a rejection letter, translated it into another language on Google, and then translated it back again.

  39. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    See, THIS is when haiku is useful, to wit:

    That’s ridiculous
    When all you have to say is
    “You don’t have the job.”

    1. Zip Zap*

      I agree. When it comes to rejection, trying to soften it makes it worse. Just say what needs to be said and get it over with.

      How about this:


      *This is a form letter that we send to all applicants who were not selected. Thank you for your time, and for your interest in our company!

  40. Corporate Cynic*

    WOW. I have to say, I’m so glad that Alison’s advice is to call out the org. on it (albeit pretty tactfully, considering what they actually deserve). Because there is no way in hell I’d be able to just let this one go.

  41. Delta Delta*

    I expected this to say, “on the plus side, now you’ll have lots of time to learn proper methods of cooking dried beans, since you won’t be working here and you’re broke!”

    This is the worst.

    1. Zip Zap*

      “On the plus side, you’ll now have plenty of time to spend at utility company offices, preparing your plea for an extension or a special repayment plan.”

  42. Sup Sup Sup*

    Oh that’s awful. It might be the worst rejection I’ve ever seen. I’m now having flashbacks to one particularly ridiculous company who had me in for 3 separate interviews (and forgot about a fourth one that I showed up for) then instead of an email or phone call, sent me a form letter in the mail (this was 2010) that began Dear Herbig (my last name). (Not Ms. Herbig/Miss Herbig/Comrade Herbig/Candidate Herbig… Just Herbig.)

  43. Zip Zap*

    Woah. How incredibly passive aggressive and creepy. And this is for a volunteer position? And they’re hoping to retain you as a supporter? What the….?

    Since it’s for a volunteer job and it also functions as a call for donations or volunteering in another capacity, would it be called for to just out the organization?

    I know it could just be one person being misguided in their reasoning, but this had to have been approved by several people there. Kind of red flaggy to me. I think you dodged a bullet, OP!

    But, yeah, if they seem otherwise great, I agree that giving them feedback would be a good thing to do. And maybe try to bypass whomever the letter came from. Contact a different department or go up the chain.

    1. Letter Writer*

      I really believe this was drafted by one person who is in charge of this particular volunteer gig and that no one else approved it, except maybe the one other person on the committee.

      I don’t think that forwarding the email will make me look good in this situation.

      1. LS*

        You’d know best about that, but at least you have some valuable insights into the person running this programme and what they consider professional / appropriate. It may be that you dodged a bullet here.

  44. Candidate X*

    Ha, I got rejected for job working with a political campaign (purely IT) and was rejected. The last line was, “Please vote for [candidate_name] in the upcoming election!” All kinds of delusional in that one if you really think that was an appropriate thing to put in a rejection email.

  45. soupmonger*

    I would absolutely respond to this telling them exactly how their email made you feel. And I would add that you have no intention of volunteering with an organisation which communicates with anyone in this manner, so not only have they lost you as a volunteer, they’ve lost your future input too. And send them the link to this post, so you can share the joy that so many more people know about their patronising messaging too!

  46. Safely Retired*

    On the bright side, you now have a story to tell that will flabbergast your audience, and never grow old.

  47. Not So NewReader*

    OP, I think that there are some of here who wish you could say the name of the org, so we don’t make the mistake of volunteering there. I know, baby/bathwater. But this is so way out of whack that I would not want to spend my time working on this just to have one person undo all my good efforts. I’d rather work some where that people are respectful of everyone’s endeavors and they all pull in the same direction.

  48. Noah*

    Maybe it’s the repeated use of the word Org in the edited letter, but I just can’t stop thinking, “Scientology.”

  49. Priceless*

    A district’s worth of staff and I got a holiday letter like this from our school district One year. It was modeled on those “teapot $2… oolong at will? Priceless!” Commercials. It was line after line of all these holiday items and their dollar amount, wrapping up with, “your dedication to us? Priceless!”

    It took some rereading to understand we weren’t getting anything off that list from the district. Or anything at all. Just this itemized reminder of how much money you spend at the holidays.

  50. Letter Writer*

    To those asking which org this is so you don’t volunteer for it…

    The org is not a charity. It’s a professional org that is related to media and communications, and mostly provides networking and career development opportunities for members. The opportunity to volunteer on a special project that interested me is what made it a volunteer opp, and of course I want to get more involved with my local chapter, which provides scholarships for people in our field. Those are the philanthropic aspects.

    The org is not a place that someone would just join to volunteer, so you don’t have to worry about running across it. It’s not saving sea turtles or protecting reproductive rights or building housing for the needy. I’m trying to think of an analogy. OK, so let’s say you’re a nurse, and you join a professional association for nurses in the U.S., and there’s a local chapter to meet folks and organize, or share skills, or like in the case of mine, raise funds for scholarships for nursing students. Then there’s a call put out on the national level for people to volunteer to help pilot a program to increase the number of nurses in rural or underserved areas. You apply to that program because you want to help, you want to give back, and you don’t mind such a thing being listed on your LinkedIn. Then you get a patronizing email rejection.

    That’s the best analogy I’ve got. Please don’t worry, you probably won’t run into this org if you’re looking for volunteer opportunities.

    1. LS*

      A professional organisation related to communications… that makes this letter even more ghastly :-/

    2. MommaTRex*

      I understand so much better why bringing it up locally might not be a useful course of action.

  51. David St. Hubbins*

    I read that twice and I’m still not sure what they’re saying.
    I can be a difficult bastard so I would reply to them and tell them exactly how insulting their letter is. I wouldn’t care what they thought of me because I would never want to work for them anyway.

  52. Tealeaves*

    Tone aside, it’s simply difficult to understand what they mean. Did you get the job or not? I had to read it twice, slowly, and think hard before I figured it out. If I had received this, I would have replied asking for clarification just in case (and to subtly get my point across that their letter doesn’t make sense).

  53. Hey*

    I’d be totally evil and send my feedback directly to the sender in then following fashion: “Thank you for handling my application. It was great talking to you, and I hope be still get a chance to work together in the future.

    By the way, that is such a strange rejection letter that the Teapot Promotion Org uses! I took it in stride but definitely can see how someone could take it the wrong way. I’m sure you don’t like to have to send it out more than volunteers want to recieve it. If you’d like, I’d be happy to go on the record suggesting that the Org go with a more professional letter. I’ll leave your name out of it. Please just let me know the right contact.


  54. Kirk Tentaprice*

    “Dear Sir / Madam,

    I recently received the attached, and was concerned that person or persons unknown may be trying to make your organization look ridiculous. I felt you should know this was happening in case you wished to pursue legal recourse.

    Meanwhile, any news about my application?”

    1. Kathenus*

      This. Just like the letter from the Cleveland Browns in the 1970’s in response to a crazy complaint from a lawyer, the Browns office ended the letter with “I feel that you should be aware that some **shole is signing your name to stupid letters”. Classic.

      Link to the letter and response in a comment below.

  55. Imaginary Number*

    Being that this is a volunteer position for a professional organization and not a company or nonprofit, would it be out of line to bring it up with someone? Along the lines of “I’m not at all upset that I wasn’t selected, but I wanted to give you a heads up about this terribly unprofessional form letter that’s being sent out.”

  56. sunshyne84*

    Someone’s got to be trying to sabotage this org from the inside. That’s the only reasonable excuse I could come up with.

  57. Zip Zap*

    This is one of my favorite AAMs this year.

    After reading the letter again, I’m really struck by how it implies:

    – You have nothing else going on in your life. No other work or job prospects (even though this is a professional organization?). Without this 5 hour a week volunteer position, you will wake to birds chirping. No one will text you.

    – This is a really big deal to you. Such a big deal that you need a long, cheerful letter to soften the blow.

    – You have no idea how else you could help Org (even though you’re already involved?). You need to be told that organizing fundraisers and social gatherings are ways to support an organization.

    It’s so weird, I’m starting to think the person meant it all as a joke. Maybe it’s someone whose sense of humor doesn’t translate well to email.

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