rejection turned into an ad for a resume-writing company

A reader write:

My girlfriend and I love your blog! I have been job searching, and I have used your blog and book to structure my resume and cover letter. And it worked! I got an interview as an operations assistant with a boutique financial firm. Unfortunately, I got a bit nervous beforehand and did not interview as well as I could have, so I did not think I would get a second interview. I moved on and continued applying to other jobs.

After four weeks, I finally got a response saying my application did not get selected for further consideration. After that, the response got a little weird, and I’d love some input from you and your readers on this.

The first half of the email read like a regular rejection email; the second half of the email became an advertisement for a company that assists job-seekers in writing resumes. For clarity, I will copy and paste the exact email, although I am not including the company’s name, nor the link to their website. And, for the record, all typos and spelling errors are from the original email.

“Your skills and qualifications are certainly impressive and we very much appreciate the time and interest you placed in exploring a career with us. Unfortunately, our recruiting team has not selected your application for further consideration. This doesn’t mean you’re not tremendous – it just means we’ve been hiring people to our team for awhileand we feel as though your application isn’t the best match for long-term success within our company in this exact role. And, we want what’s best for YOU as much as we want is best for us. We’re confident your perfect job is out there, and you’re closer than ever to finding it.

As a tangible thank you for your interest and application, we don’t want to leave you empty-handed. We’re proudly partnering with (company name and link) to give interested candidates a little job-seeker-love from true HR professionals in the field.  We’re giving you u a 10% discount on any of their services. With over 3,000 happy customers, the (company name) team has reimagined content and developed eye-catching designs for clients across numerous industries and throughout all organizational levels. To claim your code just mention  (coupon code)  in your inquiry.  

We wish you every personal and professional success. Our full team has their fingers crossed for your job search.”

Am I wrong in thinking this is incredibly sketchy and weird? The company seemed fine to me in my research beforehand. After the interview, I was not sure I wanted to work there (one of the financial advisors helped a client write a letter to break up with a girlfriend), but I did not think the company itself was this sketchy. Have you come across anything like this? I still do not know what to make of it, other than the fact that I think it’s both hilarious and off-putting. Now I feel like I really dodged a bullet!

Ugh, yeah.

You know, if they were offering you more than a 10% discount on job-search help, I’d say this is something where their hearts are in the right place. If they were giving you 40% off, for example, I’d say that’s a solid enough offer that even if it’s a little weird, it’s something with the potential to really help people. (Of course, then there’s the whole problem of how many of these resume-writing places suck, but maybe this one doesn’t.) But 10% off is the kind of discount that’s pretty cheap to offer, usually isn’t enough to make something affordable if it otherwise wouldn’t be, and functions mainly as a way to generate business for the company giving the discount. It’s an excuse to promote a business (and I’d bet money that the business paid to be promoted in this way).

Plus this rejection letter is pretty condescending — in particular, the part about how you’re closer than ever to finding your perfect job. Maybe you’re not! Maybe you’re further away from it than ever before! It’s patronizing. But here too, it would be easier to excuse that if they were genuinely offering you help, not just advertising at you.

{ 161 comments… read them below }

    1. Artemesia*

      Exactly. I wonder if there was even a job; this sounds like a bait and switch operation from top to bottom.

      1. Jesca*

        Yeah, I mean even if its not a bait in switch, this certainly makes it look that way regardless IMO. I wouldn’t be encouraging people to apply there.

      2. pope suburban*

        I very much doubt there was ever a job. This feels like the flip side of all those “copywriting” gigs on craigslist, where they want a bunch of SEO articles, then tell you they just can’t use a single one of them. It’s just another scam that seeks to exploit people who are already in dire straits.

        On a related note, I wish very much that I am wrong about there not being a hell, solely so the people who run outfits like this will go to it.

        1. Candi*

          In my belief system, slime won’t be tortured in hell forever -they’ll cease to exist and be forever forgotten once the new system is in place. Not even a “Percival? Who was that?”

          Unfortunately, we need to remember scum now, so we can take lessons from the past to inform the present and future. But in a new, clean system? Worst thing we can do to them, especially the ones who committed crimes in order to be remembered, to get their fifteen minutes of fame while the media beats their story into the ground.

          (I personally have a problem with how the media treats criminals as a type of celebrity, especially with the short shaft I often see victims get.)

          1. Steve*

            It’s funny to me that some belief systems have ceasing to exist as a negative and a punishment, while other belief systems have ceasing to exist as a positive and a reward.

    2. Barney Barnaby*

      I’ve seen a few job ads that are essentially there to generate interest from job-seekers, who they then try to sell stuff to (like paid access to job search sites). It’s sleazy. Best thing to do is to ignore those companies, send the stuff to your spam folder where it belongs, and then move on to actual jobs that are there to pay you.

      1. Wintermute*

        I agree, for most spam.

        But stuff like this is abusive, and it’s illegal. There are laws about how you can advertise and fake job listings are quite probably illegal in at least a few ways (it misrepresents the real party-at-interest in the job add, it sets up an interview under false pretexts, it does not disclose that it is an advertisement, etc).

        So I’d take a three-pronged approach just because I’d be hacked off to the point of vengeance: First, contact the places they post job adds, use the “contact us” or “report a problem” button and report ALL their job adverts as deceptive/sneak marketing/not a legitimate job. Second, if they’re a large company, contact the FTC using their website’s reporting form for deceptive ads and consumer complaints, if they’re advertising on the radio contact the FCC, contact the state versions of the same to complain of a deceptive job advert. Third, facebook, glassdoor, Google, every place you can rate a company or let the world know, shout it loud and proud, name them and shame them.

        They’ll regret messing with the wrong marine. Sure you won’t get a job but they will find it much harder to get suckers.

        1. selena81*

          This kind of behavior is fraud, aimed specifically at the poor and desperate, and ‘just ignore it and push it into the spam-box’ lets them continue on their merry way. If you come across fake jobs (and can muster the energy after a day of job-hunting) you should report them at any place you can.

    3. Science!*

      I was going to comment that this sounds so much like when I had a boyfriend break up with me and then in the next breath offer to set me up with another guy at the movie theater we both worked at. The other guy was 16 and I was 21 at the time…so yeah…

      1. Little Twelvetoes*

        Nah, a rejection letter from Kylo Ren would be more about how you could never live up to the legacy of Darth Vader. “Your dark heart is not evil enough. Please report to the firing squad. Waaaaahhhh….”

  1. Anon Anon*

    I find the first paragraph far more of a red flag than the second paragraph.

    Sure, pushing a resume writing service is a bit sketchy, but I suspect someone at the organization thought that it would be a good PR move. However, the first paragraph to me is the bigger issue as it’s full of condescending hyperbolic bullshit. Whoever wrote that first paragraph should be reassigned from that duty.

    1. Observer*

      I agree with Allison. It MIGHT be a decent PR move if the discount were REALLY steep – like 40% or more. But this? As Alison pointed out, it’s a garbage discount.

      1. Candi*

        In my state and county, 10% would juuuuust take care of the sales tax plus a little bit. In other words, the kind of thing where a company could likely just bump their prices up a bit to compensate (insert legal/financial details I don’t know about).

        There’s no way the company could know this, but I find it highly amusing they’re offering this to someone who already has access to one of the best -free!- resources on the net! (Yay AAM!)

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      I’ve received similar letters (though not from this sector). It sucks, especially this: ” And, we want what’s best for YOU as much as we want is best for us.” Because what’s best for me a lot of times is to not be unemployed.

      1. Hildegard Vonbingen*

        Not to mention the fact that it’s a lie. A business is in business to make money. That’s goal one. This “we care about you as much as we care about ourselves” nonsense reminds me of the “we’re like family” malarkey. Nope, you’re not like family. My family doesn’t pay me to show up. And if they had to pay me to show up, it would mean we have a terrible relationship. Like the kind of relationship I’d have if I worked for YOU!

        Hard pass. Spam folder fodder.

      2. Marthooh*

        “And, we want what’s best for YOU as much as we want is best for us.” That jumped out at me, too. It’s just… it’s a flat lie! They’re lying! How can they expect anyone to believe this?

        Unless they actually mean “We don’t want to give you a job, and what’s more, you really don’t want to work for us!”

        1. Wintermute*

          They were being 100% accurate 100% unintentionally. We don’t want you to work here! But wait! there’s more! YOU really don’t want to work here! Trust us! we had a receptionist kick his way out through the glass door rather than stay locked in one more minute. We suspect several employees have shot themselves in the feet with a staple gun to be sent home! Your boss gives so little feedback you’ll become a neurotic, Bill, our best engineer we can’t fire likes to argue loudly about politics and chews his own toenails in meetings! The HR department is just a wooden board with “get over it” written on it on top of a ‘suggestion’ box we empty each quarter, and our payroll department missed five checks last year! It’s awful! Trust us, THIS IS BEST FOR YOU TOO!

          1. selena81*


            under the right circumstances (as in: the candidate already has another job) that would be hilarious

      3. Genny*

        Exactly. I’m not going to presume I know what’s in the business’ best interests, and they shouldn’t presume to know what’s in my best interest.

    3. selena81*

      ugh yeah, sooo condescending.
      it tries to sound like ‘i think you are a nice kid so let me give you some free tips’, but it comes off more like dealing with a mental patient (‘we all love you, but we feel that sending you away is in your best interest’)

  2. Foreign Octopus*

    Why does this keep happening? I feel like we should inundate companies with a link to AAM just so they don’t do things like this. Then again, that might put Alison out of business and I’d miss the letters so maybe not…

    1. Antilles*

      This keeps happening for the same reason that “job search help” websites, robo-phone calls and 419 scams still exist. Because while 99% of people would have responded just like OP’s “nope, this is shady” reaction, there’s (apparently) a non-zero number of people who do buy in to keep the scam worthwhile.

          1. Candi*

            Now now, that’s paid advertising dollars. Kickbacks are (supposed to be) illegal.

            /snark /sarcasm /dark humor

        1. selena81*

          If they called him in for an ‘interview’ than it is no longer almost-free. If that was their only angle then they must feel really confident in their ability to lure people to the resume-writing company.

          As to the typical spam you are totally right: it is so damn cheap that it’s still profitable if only a tiny tiny fraction respond. And in fact modern spam-mail is specifically aimed at filtering out the suckers, by being as stupid as possible (seeking out people who still fall for ‘nigerian prince’ stories, f.i.)

    2. Julia the Survivor*

      I doubt that would help. It would go over the heads of people who are clueless enough to write this.

    3. Mephyle*

      Better to let the companies that think it’s a good idea keep doing it. Otherwise what signal would you have that they are the kind of company that would think this was a good idea?

    4. Quasar*

      I am now wondering if many of the initial job postings are scams.

      It is actually sort of genius, albeit sociopathic, you post a fake job, and reject everyone and then when they feel insecure you hawk your resume writing service.

      Or have I become too cynical?

      1. Candi*

        No, no you’re not.

        Posting a fake job, and then saying it’s not available or you’re rejected, but you can totally go over here and take this other (much crappier) job, or buy this service, or join this Amway-esque business that is totally not a MLM company, honest, we said so -it goes so far back.

        One off the reasons some employment laws exist is some of the scams pulled on immigrants. Nelly Bly and Jacob Riis both wrote about them. (Nelly had a looooong career before the round the world thing.)

  3. fposte*

    I’m betting that “boutique financial firm” is what they call themselves, and they’re basically salespeople; they’ve got some kind of deal with the resume company.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      This was my thought too. I’ve heard of quite a few companies taking some liberties with their job descriptions.

      For example, I have a friend who’s be looking at various marketing jobs and it’s bizarre how many “marketing jobs” end up being basically “salespeople for hire.”

      He got to one interview and learned it was actually a door-to-door vacuum salesperson position where they clean someone’s carpet for free and hope they buy the vacuum… and then he actually accepted another job and on the first day found out he would be walking around a large chain store trying to sell a specific internet provider’s services.

      (disclaimer: I have no idea what kind of info was actually covered in that interview or if my friend remembered to ask some very important questions! But I do know he explicitly told them that part of the reason he’s job-searching is because he can’t be on his feet for long periods due to a medical condition)

      1. DMLT*

        My daughter ran into this constantly when looking for her first job as a graphic artist right our of college. Jobs that were listed as “marketing designer” were actually sales. Jobs that were “graphic design and event planning” were really “set up a pop up sunshade at a gas station and sell sunglasses” and “Graphic designer” was draw on posterboard and wave it at drivers passing by. One job was listed as “graphic designer” but was assembling parts in a clean warehouse. She asked in the interview why it was listed as graphic designer and they said “Because jobs as graphic designers are really hard to get but people who are graphic designers tend to be nicely detail oriented. So we thought maybe a frustrated graphic designer would take this job.”
        Not to mention the frustration of being matched with a bazillion jobs as “sandwich artist” on various job boards. Sorry Subway, working there is NOT ART.
        She persisted and eventually got her job as a graphic artist at a printing company!

        1. Jesca*

          OMG i remember those days of trying to find an entry level job. The bait and switches were exhausting!! One time I suddenly found myself trying to be loaded into a truck with some men to go out and hock meat in inner city Baltimore in my interview clothing. Nah, I was good going off to be poor a little while longer.

          1. Thursday Next*

            That sounds terrifying! Beyond the usual kind of bait-and-switch, and closer to…kidnapping?

        2. nnn*

          It blows my mind that there are multiple businesses whose business model is apparently tricking people into working for them!

          1. EddieSherbert*

            Right? I’d be LESS inclined to take the job, even if I was desperate and at a point where I’m open to anything (no thanks, I’ll go apply for the retail job that’s posted as a retail job rather than your “marketing job” that turned out to actually be retail!).

            1. selena81*

              yeah, its not unreasonable to settle for a non-glamorous job outside your field.
              And i don’t even mind if a company straight-up advertises to dissapointed job-seekers (‘sorry that we put “designer” in the header, what we are actually looking for is unemployed designers willing to work in the mailroom’). But once people have writen a letter and come in for an interview it’s way to late to try to talk them into ‘have you considered a job in …’

        3. Julia the Survivor*

          This sounds like the end result of degree mania.
          It started when companies began requiring degrees for jobs that don’t really need them – like secretary.
          Then – with colleges taking full advantage and not telling people they wouldn’t all be able to get jobs –
          everyone got a degree.
          Now there are many more lawyers, graphic designers, you name it, then there are jobs in that field – and sleazy employers are trying to take advantage.

      2. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        There’s a company in my area that advertises jobs for paramedics, when the real job is security. When asked about it, they said they do that to get a better class of candidates.

        I find this so smarmy and just gross for a company to do . How about pay better and you’ll bet a better pool of candidates.

        1. Anony*

          It seems like it would get a worse group of candidates who would seriously consider the job though. The good candidates will find out that it is not the job they thought they were applying for and withdraw. Or there will be high turnover because the people taking the job actually want to be paramedics.

          1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

            Yeah, I can’t imagine it works for them. The person I know who told me this story withdrew his application. I just can’t imagine that anyone says “Hey they lied to get me in the door, I’m sure this job that has nothing to do with my skill set will be a great one because of the unethical employer!”

          2. selena81*

            I just can’t fanthom the thought-process of these companies: it appears that all they care about is fancy degrees and not ‘is actually good at the job at hand’.
            They ignore qualified motivated security-people, just so they can hire guys who were too lazy or stupid to land a job as a paramedic.

        2. pope suburban*

          I had a nightmare interview for an outfit like that once. They posted an ad for a “paralegal” for only $27k annually, and when my long-term unemployed and therefore desperate self arrived for an interview, I found out that there was nothing especially paralegal-esque about the job. It was this scammy collections/loan agency, pretty much a call center, and they wanted someone who would pretty much act as maid/nanny to the CSRs, in addition to doing that kind of work as well. They were just trying, VERY VERY BADLY, to get a high-quality employee by lying about the job title. I’d never have accepted the interview if I hadn’t been on unemployment and therefore couldn’t refuse it. I was really relieved not to get the job. Even their typing assessment was shady; it came from a free online site and their writing samples had errors! I’m sure my score suffered, because I spent so much time debating if I should type it as presented, or correct the errors.

        3. Marthooh*

          A security company… lies to its prospective employees… so it can get a better class of candidates.

          This is horrifying. It’s also WHY the better candidates don’t want a job in security.

        4. Ramona Flowers*

          This isn’t quite the same but I got offered an interview for a job where the advert said they had flexible hours and you could work from home one day a week.

          And then the (external) recruiter told me they told everyone to put that in the advert as they got more and better applications, and they didn’t offer it but she supposed she could ask. I noped the nope right out of that one.

      3. Tobias Funke*

        This happens all the time. My husband is an actual salesperson who has an actual career in sales and things that are portrayed as mid-career account exec roles actually turn out to be chasing people around Costco selling Direct TV for a pyramid scheme.

      4. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

        This happened to me while looking for my first job – a imports and exports consultant firm published an ad for a Junior Dev for their tailor-made CRM, which mutated at each interview until turned out to be a secretarial position. What waste of time.

      5. Genny*

        This same thing happened to me. I’d just graduated college and was applying to jobs (probably with too broad of a net to be honest) and got an interview for one I thought was an office job. I drove a couple hours to get to the interview only to find out that it was for a sales position to sell some home improvement at Home Depot (the position wasn’t to work for Home Depot, it was one of those sales people who have a table set up by the door to sell you some service). I was so upset afterwards that I’d wasted all that time and energy. It still makes me mad to think about how they were preying on desperate people or people with low information.

      6. Candi*

        Give me a K! Give me an I!

        That one?

        My dad is so in love with that ugly, clunky thing. You can’t even buy the bags and parts directly from them -we have to go through Amazon. And while the bags are good, the hose and other parts are crappy. He originally bought it to help out a friend, without reading the lifetime warranty that covers so little as to be useless.

        So, yes, I’d count that thing as a grade-a scam in the end. As least Mary Kay’s overpriced products do what they’re supposed to.

  4. Trout 'Waver*

    Absolutely disgusting.

    I bet the author of this rejection letter gets a referral commission for this. Personally, I would respond cc’ing HR that I do not view the job application to be used as a sales lead or advertising opportunity and to remove my contact info from their marketing team.

    1. ContentWrangler*

      I would bet it’s probably already too late and the company has sold their contact info to that resume company. Those types of companies can be relentless. Back when I was job hunting, it seemed like every time I published my resume anywhere, I got a least a dozen emails for these resume “fixers” offering me a first pass at my resume and promoting their big bucks rewriting services. It was pretty easy to ignore them as BS since nearly every first pass berated my “job hopping” even though it was really obvious on my resume that I was a college student and the jobs were summer internships.

      1. Candi*


        One out-of-the-blue interview offer I got came from a company that “liked my work history and education” and said they found my resume on Monster.

        Little problem. Posting my resume on Monster was a required part of my DSHS WorkFirst work search, nearly 14-something years ago now. I never updated it after I found work; indeed, I’d forgotten about it for ages.

        This offer came three years ago. Did anyone not notice there was no work or education history after X date, at all?

        The company looked legit, and is still around, but that said very little about their HR department!

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Do you think they get a kick back from the referral? Kind of like how you get $5 off your next order if a friend uses your referral link to join Postmates?

    The first paragraph was super irritating and patronizing. The second is just full on weird. Also, what reputable financial firm specializes in writing break-up letters for clients? This sounds like a few bullets dodged, OP.

      1. Hildegard Vonbingen*

        Absolutely. It’s worded just like an advertisement, dangling some forlorn, overpriced illusion of hope in front of what they assume/hope will be a desperate job-seeker whose critical thinking skills have been shut down by their desperation. I’d bet my house that there’s a kickback involved. The arrogant, condescending prose is just the rancid cherry on the rip-off shit sundae. Lord, how I despise people like this. They know good and well what they’re doing. Playing the odds at low or no cost and preying on the desperate. Despicable.

  6. AnnaBananaCanada*

    The OP’s resume can’t have been all that bad or they wouldn’t have contacting him for an interview!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is what I was just thinking!!!

      Like, maybe the hard sell on the resume help would make more sense if you hadn’t actually brought the person in for an interview.

      1. Candi*

        “You are so, so good, and so close to a job! If you were just that little bit better… Here’s a link to extortionately-priced service to help you get there!”

  7. Myrin*

    “(one of the financial advisors helped a client write a letter to break up with a girlfriend)”
    I’m dying to know how that went and how OP even came to know about this. Did they praise their ability to help out their customers in every conceivable life situation?

    1. Willow*

      Here’s how I imagine it going:

      Your skills and qualifications are certainly impressive and we very much appreciate the time and interest you placed in exploring a relationship with us. Unfortunately, our recruiting team has not selected your application for further consideration. This doesn’t mean you’re not tremendous – it just means we’ve been looking for people to date for awhileand we feel as though your application isn’t the best match for long-term success in this exact relationship. And, we want what’s best for YOU as much as we want is best for us. We’re confident your perfect partner is out there, and you’re closer than ever to finding them.

      As a tangible thank you for your interest and time, we don’t want to leave you empty-handed. We’re proudly partnering with (company name and link) to give interested candidates a little relationship-seeker-love from true dating professionals in the field.  We’re giving you u a 10% discount on any of their services. With over 3,000 happy customers, the (company name) team has reimagined content and developed eye-catching designs for clients across dating websites and throughout all hookup apps. To claim your code just mention  (coupon code)  in your inquiry.  

      We wish you every personal and professional success. Our full team has their fingers crossed for your relationship search.

      1. fposte*

        Nah, I think this is more Edward Jones without the mall space. High commissions, high loads, confusing portfolios, probably a lot of unnecessary insurance products. “Boutique” gets thrown around a lot without meaning anything.

        1. Candi*

          “Boutique” in my mind has some positive meanings (generally in regards to clothing stores) -quality, good service- but it also has some negative ones: Exclusive, high-priced, products that the little guy down in the mud just can’t comprehend, let alone afford, a we-know-better attitude, arrogance, etc.

          In this case, I’m going almost exclusively with the negative associations.

    2. Antilles*

      I wish we could get more details on that too.
      How do you even think about writing a letter to break up with someone? And honestly, even if you did decide on a letter rather than in-person/phone call/whatever AND you didn’t know how to write it yourself…why in the world would your financial adviser be the person you call to help?

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m betting that it came up in the interview in the context of “we go above and beyond for our clients and develop personal relationships built on trust — for example, a client told his financial advisor that he was planning to break up with his girlfriend, and our clients trust us so much that we actually helped him write the letter.”

      Huge red flag, obviously, and super gross. (Can you imagine being the girlfriend and finding out that happened?) But I’m betting that’s the framework they raised it in.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Nevermind that telling someone to write a break-up letter is terrible advice! Even my insurance agent gets a phone call to end the relationship.

          1. Natalie*

            I mean, I did once but I was 15 and an idiot.

            [I hit submit too soon and stepped on my own timing. *sad slide whistle*]

          2. a different Vicki*

            Someone with a long distance relationship and a reason not to use the telephone. Granted, such a letter is likely to be a few sentences, and be sent electronically rather than on paper: “I am breaking up with you because $reason. Please send me the Archie comics you borrowed, and let me know whether you want your Miskatonic sweatshirt back.”

            1. Candi*

              Or Dear John/Jane letters before the internet. There was one TV movie where the guy left the thing on his mantelpiece right beside a photo of the two of them at their engagement, with the letter saying he couldn’t go through with the wedding. (They were living together.)

              Ten Years Later….

              He gets cheesed off she never told him she was pregnant. What was he expecting!? (I mean, he didn’t even leave contact information.)

      2. Observer*

        Yeah, I figured that that’s how it came up. But, given how sleazy they are, I wouldn’t trust the story. On the other hand, just the fact that this is a story they thought was ok to share, no matter what the context, is shady as sleazy can be.

      3. boo*

        On the other hand, if you were the girlfriend and found out that happened, you would know exactly how big a bullet you had just dodged!

      4. MassMatt*

        I would love to see that break-up letter! Was it on the boutique firm’s letterhead? Did it offer the girlfriend a 10% discount on resume writing help?

          1. Candi*

            Dontcha know they’re run out of different sides of the same building? The parent company is BadCommunications, Inc. They totally say they’re separate, of course. /humor /silliness

  8. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    So. They brought in LW for an interview based off the resume she submitted.. Then, presumably due to nerves at the first one, declined to invite her back for a second interview. Plus sent a rejection email full of errors. Not only is the condescension alarming, but so is the utter lack of attention to detail. If they’re this careless here…where else might they be? Definitely a cannon ball dodged, methinks.

    1. Observer*


      That’s the silver lining – you don’t always get confirmation that you REALLY didn’t want to work there anyway.

  9. kas*

    I think a lot of companies try to do too much with their rejection emails. I would’ve been fine receiving the first two sentences.

    Their sales pitch misses the mark because the OP got to the interview stage with the resume they submitted. Overall, it’s just a terrible idea. Also this seems like something they would copy and paste to candidates and not re-type every time so the fact that it has so many spelling errors …

    I don’t want a sales pitch in a rejection email and 10% off? No thanks.

  10. Observer*

    other than the fact that I think it’s both hilarious and off-putting.

    That’s exactly how I would describe it.

    Bullet dodged, indeed!

  11. MilkMoon (UK)*

    I feel like you’ve dodged ending up in some kind of cult, rather than a workplace. It’s all so… overfamiliar.

    Also the gall of recommending a resume service with all those errors of their own! Laughable.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This totally sounds like the kind of thing Scientology would do to try and sell people on their ‘services’.

  12. The Wombat*

    To me this smells bad. These tactics make me think of those used by people who try to recruit others into selling overpriced knives, unneeded water filters, and essential oils. Come to our “totally legit” interview and then we will sell you stuff.

  13. a Gen X manager*

    Smarmy! How naive does the potential employer think job candidates are!? This reflects so poorly on their judgment and overall reputation.

    The only way to make the 10% off offer more pathetic is if they faked their real prices and said they’d get 50% off their $300 fee, when the actual fee is $150 anyway (prices are examples, not their actual fees).

  14. Admin Abbey*

    Oh goodness…a humongous bullet dodged.

    The best one I received was after a two stage face to face interview for an Account Manager with the Managing Director of a company. The rejection email was sent very shortly (as I walked to the car park) which was littered with spelling mistakes (about an A4 page) and the following:

    “On that subject, if you know anyone that you think might be interested in our role, please ask them to send me their CV.”

    Ah well! o_O

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      basically “you suck, but if you know anyone who doesn’t suck, send them our way”???

  15. boo*

    I think they didn’t go too far enough! This could be a whole new advertising paradigm; you could even tailor the rejection letter to the ad, so the applicant knows what to feel bad about.

    “While you were a tremendous candidate, your presentation, or “look”, was insufficiently polished for a boutique financial firm like ours. To help you in your future job search, we have partnered with a personal shopping service, a well-known department store, and a boutique plastic surgeon, with a special introductory 5%-off rhinoplasty.”

    “While you were a great candidate, we require our employees to wear many hats. For help in your future endeavors, we have partnered with a boutique haberdashery, offering you our unique 4% discount on all fedoras.”

    “While you were a good candidate, we require our employees to have a fanatical devotion to our clients. To aid you in your future life, we have partnered with boutique adult education center,”Cults R Us,” with a 2 % discount on their seminal course, “Giving in to Glorg.”

    “While you were a candidate, our employees must display a true willingness to go “above and beyond.” To help you be more like that, we have partnered with a boutique space camp, including a 0.5 %-off coupon for moon-boots.

    1. Brittasaurus Rex*

      Glorg has made a huge difference in my life. So many opportunities have opened up for me since I had those goat legs grafted onto my back!

  16. Mrs. Fenris*

    Here’s my guess: Company A, the one at which the OP interviewed, is on the level but does some misguided things. Awhile back, their HR received a spam email from company B. Company B wanted contact information for their rejected applicants. For every person that signed on with B, A would get a kickback (but B made it sound better than that). A’s HR manager (I’m picturing the gullible, dotty office manager at my old job) thought this sounded like a win-win for everyone and signed them up, not thinking about how sleazy this would make them look.

  17. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

    Typos and spelling errors are always a red flag for me. If they can’t bother to ensure that their copy is perfect, then what else is lurking below the surface.

    1. Formerly New Commenter*

      Exactly what I was about to post. Can you imagine the error-riddled resumes this company probably creates? I am assuming that the advertising template language was written by the resume advertiser, not by the interviewer.

    2. MassMatt*

      It actually could be part of the con. For a long time I was amazed at the number of typos and mistakes in email scams, then I read that this is part of filtering for the poorly educated and gullible. Scammers are LOOKING for people either unable to detect bad spelling and grammar, or so greedy or desperate they will overlook it.

      1. Marthooh*

        “Haha yes, my grammar is pretty bad — but I’m a Nigerian Prince, so English isnot my first language.”

  18. Narise*

    This is a situation where you apply the ‘a**hole’ rule. Years ago a lawyer wrote to foot ball team regarding paper airplanes being flown by fans. The lawyer for the football team sent it back to the writer stating some ‘a**hole is signing your name to a some very stupid letters.’

    You could send this to the company they advertised and let them know that the company is signing their name/services to a very stupid letter that is being sent out to potential clients. Thought they would want to know.

    1. BadPlanning*

      Frankly, I feel like there’s a 30% chance that the person who wrote this email may be personally benefiting from referrals to this resume service and the company doesn’t know they’re doing this in the reject letters.

  19. OP*

    Hi all,

    Thanks for all the comments. A couple things I picked up:
    1. Yes, the girlfriend thing was a way of saying they go above and beyond for their clients. The firm does concierge wealth management, so they also help manage clients lives above just investing. They bill themselves as helping clients focus on their sport/career by taking care of everyone else. That being said, it was still a red flag for me, as it seemed a bit unprofessional to bring that up in an interview as a proud accomplishment.
    2. As someone else pointed out, and something I picked up on later, my resume got me an interview. So if anything, what I’d need help on is my interviewing skills, not my resume.
    3. I don’t think the firm is sketchy in that they are potentially criminal or anything. It was started by two guys who broke off from a well known firm. But I do think it was a firm that was not being as upfront as I would have liked on both their website and in the interview. I would have gone in for a second interview (mostly for practice), but I was never going to accept the job. There were enough unanswered questions and equivocating about the more important stuff (i.e. their investment strategy, asset growth, etc.).

    1. OP*

      Also, I do think the point was not to sell me anything. The interview was for a real position, and not a client-facing position. Someone pointed out that it is probably a normal company that has done some shady things, and I would probably agree with that. I do think the women who interviewed me could benefit from more professional training (she didn’t ask me a single behavioral question during the interview).

    2. Natalie*

      For what it’s worth, a couple of things you’ve mentioned seem like huge red flags for being criminal or at best SUPER unethical. Having a legitimate background is no protection – look at Arthur Anderson. So it sounds like you dodged an armory’s worth of bullets with these guys, and at least you got a good story out of it.

      1. OP*

        Fair. I guess my point is that, so far, I have not seen any evidence for criminal behavior or wrongdoing, but definitely unprofessional and unethical behavior.

        1. Casuan*

          The line between “unprofessional and unethical behavior” and “criminal behavior or wrongdoing” is easy to cross, especially when one has good intentions yet lacks judgment.
          to clarify: This is an observation, not a judgment.

    3. Candi*

      “if anything, what I’d need help on is my interviewing skills”

      For which you’ve already downloaded Alison’s guide, no doubt. :P

  20. Anon for this*

    They may be legit, OP, but the “sport” detail in your response makes me doubt that even more than before. Unfortunately my industry (finance) is rife with those with bad ethics seeking to make quick bucks, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the market “servicing” pro athletes.

    It’s a shame, but think how often you read of a famous athlete being fleeced or ripped off by a financial advisor. Multiply that by the many cases where the athlete isn’t famous enough to make headlines, or too embarrassed to come forward, or where the scammer convinces him or her they weren’t scammed.

    1. Anon for this*

      Allison has said many times that an interview is a 2 way process, the job seeker needs to be checking out the hiring company to see if it’s a good fit and somewhere they want to work as well as presenting him/herself as a good candidate. The power imbalance makes this difficult but it’s especially important in finance, many MANY companies have low or no ethics.

      If you want to work ethically you need to make sure your prospective company does likewise. Ask about their compliance office, how they handle conflicts of interest, etc. A company with strong ethics will welcome these questions and view the person asking them as someone more likely to do the right thing and put clients first. Bad companies will react with obviously phony lip service or downright hostility.

      There are many outstanding individuals and companies in the business too, good luck in finding a position with one of them and not one like the company that just sent that awful letter.

    2. OP*

      As far as the sports thing, that does not necessarily imply a scam more than any other field of clients in financial advice/management.

      1. Candi*

        I think Anon for this is referring to that certain fields, regardless of industry, tend to attract shadier types more likely to be out for a quick buck and their personal interests, not their customers or clients. Good companies shut them right down; in bad companies, they can flourish.

  21. BarkusOrlyus*

    This and all the other “can you BELIEVE how terrible this rejection is” makes me wonder—is there such a thing as a good job rejection? I’d love to see a post with examples of rejections readers have received that were well done. Seems like a very hard needle to thread. I do think this is sketchy and would feel extremely condescended to, but given how many people feel put off and insulted by form rejections and even more angry with no response at all, I wonder if there is actually a “good” way to reject someone.

    The only “good” job rejection I’ve ever gotten was from a tech company that told me I wasn’t quite qualified but that they really liked me and were going to create an internship position for me…four months later I was told I needed to interview for the internship, but it was just a formality. I didn’t end up getting it because one of the people in the department thought there were already too many young women (there was one). So that ended up not being good at all.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t think it’s hard at all. There is a huge amount of space between sketchy / unethical / dishonest responses and no response at all. I do realize that you can’t please everyone, but there are some basics that go a looong way.

      1. Send a rejection to each applicant. I would cut an employer who is getting tons of applications to a lower level jobs and didn’t respond to each application some slack, although it’s far from ideal. However, once you get past that application stage, you have to respond.

      2. Calibrate your response to the level of effort on the part of the applicant. Just an application? Form letter is fine. At the other end, if someone has done multiple interviews etc. you need to be somewhat personal.

      3. A rejection letter is NEVER the time to sell anything to the applicant or ask for favors (including asking for referrals.)

      4. Be respectful and honest, not condescending and / or dishonest – even marginally honest. Just tell the truth! You don’t have to tell them everything, but what you say should be honest.

    2. Natalie*

      I’m not sure the fact that people complain necessarily means it is a difficult task. Given the nature of a rejection letter, a lot of people are going to feel miffed no matter what and will focus those feelings on the letter itself. That doesn’t mean a company did it wrong.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve had a couple that were just fine. Along the lines of, “The team/hiring manager/whoever enjoyed meeting you but have decided to move forward with other candidates. Best of luck!” Short and to the point.

      The only case when I was surprised at not being made an offer, the recruiter called me, said it had been a tough decision, but I didn’t quite have the Very Specific Deep Knowledge they were looking for. The feedback was helpful because I knew I didn’t have the VSDK and didn’t realize that was a deal breaker. Then she also said they wanted to consider me for a different position, which sounded great … except then she ghosted me. So, a mixed bag.

      Also, “too many young women?” Like you are carbon copies designed solely to meet a quota without being able to offer anything unique? That guy sucks.

    4. nep*

      I got a decent one a while back — Something along the lines of ‘Thank you for your interest and application. This does not appear to be a good fit.’ Short and sweet. No condescension, no treating me like an eight-year-old, no cringe-worthy cheerleading.

    5. Candi*

      Alison’s got a TON of advice how to handle rejection letters. Her mainstay is NEVER ghost a candidate, especially if they’ve been interviewed.

  22. AMT*

    This is a thing with shady literary agencies, too. They use rejections as an excuse to say, “Your work needs a good editor! Luckily, we have this in-house editing service that makes the bulk of our money for us, since publishers don’t really like to work with us…”

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Happens with pseudo-academic journals, too. I don’t know what the rejection rate is, but I do know there’s a (paid) service they offer to help improve the writing of rejected articles.

  23. Casuan*

    Bullets dodged!!
    whether or not the company is legit…

    From what you said, OP, I question this company’s judgment on several levels. The interviewer showed bad judgment by choosing the break-up letter as an exemplar of how the associates go out of their way to help their clients, with the corollary of the associate thinking it was an appropriate way to help the client.

    Numerous typos are a red flag for me because of attention to detail and I certainly wouldn’t want a company who can’t even review an email for typos & consistency to manage my finances or anything else— especially not to write letters on my behalf. Seriously, what’s with the “u” (“you”) & run-on words? The resume advert could be good intentions gone bad. Again, judgment.

    OP, I love your personal response to the email and its advert. It shows that you have discernment and a good attitude. Good luck in your search!!

  24. Casuan*

    If the latter part of the email was a solicitation— there was a discount code— isn’t there a requirement to disclose this fact?
    Are requirements to this effect federal laws or per state?

    This is assuming the OP is in the States. I’m curious as to the legalaties in other countries as well.

  25. Fafaflunkie*

    This reminds me of what many YouTube videos have become: they receive a sponsorship from XYZ and spend a few minutes talking about them to pad their video to the magical 10 minute mark in order to monetize their 8 minute video. (I’m talking to you, LinusTechTips!) Just to make a point: it seems apparent this company you applied to got the same deal from this recruitment company to effectively advertise their service. Pretty sleazy if you ask me.

Comments are closed.