a rejected candidate keeps demanding to know why we didn’t hire him

A reader writes:

Last fall, I left a beloved job with a nonprofit and assisted them in hiring a new “me” — or, rather, two people to take my place with two different aspects of the job. One was an internal hire, the other required an outside interview process. We received over 50 applications, narrowed it down to 13 phone interviews, then seven in-person interviews, and finally made a very satisfying hiring decision.

At each step along the way, I sent out very polite rejection emails to those who didn’t make the next level. It was very professional, and all candidates but one reacted very well. However, one gentleman who was not granted an interview wrote back saying that “since he was clearly overqualified for such a position, he would have at least appreciated an interview.” In fact, he had no qualifications for the position: he’d never done administrative/fundraising tasks, worked for a nonprofit, nor had any background in our mission field. In addition, he used what I considered to be a dated, problematic term for transgender persons on his resume. (That seems random, but he’d done social work, which incidentally, was not our field.) I never responded, but he tracked me down and has asked me several times why he wasn’t interviewed. He is clearly well educated and has an interesting work history, but nothing on his resume was even remotely connected to our field, and frankly, he came across as condescending. That said, we are community-based and try to be friendly, kind, and helpful to all.

I’m still peripherally involved in the organization, but no longer an employee. In fact, I moved across the country and took another job. Do I have any obligation to write him back? And, if so, how honest should I be? Apparently, he’s written to the organization, too, and my former boss refuses to deal with him. If I write him back, might he leave them alone? A small part of me feels as if he’d benefit from knowing the truth, but I also feel like maybe it’s none of my business. I recognize that if I respond to him, it would not be in any way official. What should I do?

Block and ignore.

You don’t work there anymore; there’s absolutely no reason you should have to engage with this guy and risk him getting more aggressive or angry.

You didn’t do anything wrong here. In fact, you did everything right! You sent out polite, timely rejection emails. You made hiring decisions that you feel good about. You don’t have anything to explain or defend or justify. You don’t even have to explain (here or to this guy) why he wasn’t invited to interview. Employers regularly have more qualified candidates than they can interview and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with someone for them to be rejected; it can just be that others were stronger.

There are always candidates who can’t believe they didn’t get an interview and think employers should have to justify that to them. (Years ago, I compiled some of the most ridiculous responses I’d received to rejections.) You aren’t obligated to respond to them — at all, but especially after they become rude or pushy.

But if you still worked there, I’d tell you to respond to him one time and say something like, “We received a tremendous amount of interest in the position, and the hiring process was very competitive. We weren’t able to offer interviews to many people with strong qualifications for the role.” Or, if you prefer, “We received a tremendous amount of interest in the position and we focused on candidates with experience in administrative and fundraising work in a nonprofit setting.”

But you don’t even work there anymore! Not only do you not need to respond to this guy, but you probably shouldn’t — the organization needs to be in charge of its communications with candidates (particularly since there can be legal ramifications if you word something wrong). If they’re not responding, that’s their call.

I’m not clear on whether he somehow tracked down your personal email account and is messaging you there. If he’s emailing you at your personal account, that’s a real overstep (and a sign of some seriously inappropriate investment) and you absolutely should block him. If you want, you can email back once to say, “I no longer work for (Org Name) and cannot answer any questions about their hiring processes. Please do not contact me at my personal account again” and then block him — but feel free to skip that and just block him.

I do get that the organization is community-based and wants people to have warm, fuzzy feelings toward it. That’s an argument for them (not you) responding — once, and with the kind of language above. But after that, candidates who are rude or hostile don’t need to be indulged. It’s okay to decline to engage.

{ 170 comments… read them below }

  1. Bubbles*

    What in the world is wrong with this dude? It amazes me the level of entitlement and condescension he displayed. To track you down on your personal email? Jeez… that’s frustrating. If you are on good terms with your old job, you might check in with them and give them a head’s up. He sounds unbalanced.

    1. Bubbles*

      Hey, look at that, I didn’t read well enough to see you’ve already contacted the former organization. They have made their decision – they do not want to talk to him. Follow their lead.

      1. Marthooh*

        I came down here to say pretty much this very thing. Your old org doesn’t want to encourage his behavior – let them decide how to deal with him!

      1. SusanIvanova*

        He won’t recognize himself – this post is about an unqualified person, and obviously that doesn’t describe him at all.

        /hums “You’re so vain” in the background.

        1. Tabby*

          Why was I singing this!
          o/~ You’re so vain, I bet you don’t think this letter is about you, don’t you, don’t you, don’t you…. o/~

    2. HoHumDrum*

      He thinks that because he has a lot of experience in the broad sense that makes him a de facto better candidate than anyone else with fewer years of work history, even when that work history is actually more relevant.

      I’ve seen it before, people being like “How could you not interview me?? I’m way overqualified! I’m a lawyer! I’ve won awards!” “Sir, this is an Arby’s…”

      1. Smithy*

        Sigh – my nonprofit often does this to itself. We don’t post salaries, therefore people assume relevant salary range because they see the job title i.e. Associate, Director, Manager. But then of course a number of titles that we use don’t truly reflect how senior/junior the role is.

        As a result, you’ll be reviewing applications for a junior role with someone who has so much experience, and even if it’s correct – you just have to assume they didn’t make the right connection with the role’s seniority/salary expectations.

        1. Lizzo*

          Somewhat of a tangent, but can you push back on your org about not posting salary ranges? There’s much research that shows that job postings that do not include salary ranges perpetuate the disadvantages for women/POC jobseekers.

          1. Mints*


            Also, I like seeing years of experience expected. It can be fuzzy, but it can ballpark whether I’m reading the description correctly (2-5 years experience in fundraising, 8-10 years experience managing fundraisers, etc.)

            I’ve read a lot of bad job descriptions that are so vague it’s just like “experience with logistics and data crunching” – do they mean ordering sandwiches for 10 people, or do they mean managing a purchasing department of 15 people?

    3. StellaBella*

      To answer your question, “What in the world is wrong with this dude?” I can think of a few things that boil down to over entitlement.

    4. charo*

      Yes, take this seriously. Workplace shootings do occur every year. It’s totally a NO-NO to contact you privately. He may just be very inappropriate, though.

      Email your former employer ASAP w/this story. They need to know. If he strolled in and had a meltdown you’d feel terrible.

      And what’s wrong w/saying “the person hired had x, y and z experience, in our field”?
      Say something positive about HIS experience and how he would do well in that area. Be kindly direct. Don’t just block him.

      Your nonprofit is probably open to the public so he could just walk in if he’s dangerous.

  2. WantonSeedStitch*

    Wow, and I thought people just responded in this way to romantic rejections! Of course, to REALLY be like that, he’d have to call you a “fat b**** who he only contacted out of pity anyway” after you told him to stop contacting you. You’ve been more than patient, LW, and this guy deserves no more of your time or attention.

    1. LGC*

      I mean…he did basically do the work equivalent of that. After all, LW’s old job was fat and ugly and a 2/10 and he only messaged her out of pity clearly beneath his IMPRESSIVELY LARGE peresume and he only applied on a lark. They should have been SO impressed by him. They don’t know what they’re missing.

      1. LunaLena*

        All you need is a “I make TONS of money and would have treated you like a queen/given you 110%” to win on your Bad Date/Candidate Bingo card!

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Right? The way you are behaving in these messages is the reason why we didn’t want to see you. That goes for both hiring and dating.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yup. I had one date with a guy who did this to me both before _and_ after the date. Messaged me before the date about how he wanted to get married and have kids, how he’d like to stay home with the kids (while I worked, I guess?), to the point where I almost cancelled the date but I went anyway because I was curious if we’d maaaaaaybe click. Spoiler: we didn’t. He messaged me again before I’d even gotten home about whyyyyyyyy didn’t I give him a chance (um, I left on cordial terms, I didn’t just outright reject him), he was suuuuuch a great guy, etc. etc. etc. and my very first thought was: Wow, this is just like all those people Alison wrote about who wrote back to her job rejections.

        What do they hope to accomplish? I guess it’s just a Hail Mary for them to try and get the job after all, even after it’s already been hired for. Of course this never works, but it probably makes them feel better so it will keep happening again and again.

    3. NopeNopeNope*

      My first thought was 100% “I bet this guy pulls the exact same bs on women in the dating world.” Once a butthead, always a butthead.

  3. rayray*

    I totally get the frustration when it feels like you have the right credentials and it feels like a company just isn’t giving you a chance to demonstrate your capabilities, but we need to remember that there’s so much more going on that we don’t know about. You may think you know what the job is all about, but maybe you didn’t hit the mark in a certain spot. Maybe another candidate had a stronger background. Just find a healthier outlet to vent your frustration and keep searching for work elsewhere. I too have felt anger when I have a strong resume that hit all the boxes on a job description, only to get a generic rejection email later. I’ve been tempted to ask why I was passed over because it doesn’t make sense. The thing is though, it’s not up to me to decide who gets that job. Maybe I felt like I hit all the boxes, but ot her applicants had more relevant work.

    1. BeesKneeReplacement*

      Whenever that has happened to me, I remind myself of the times I have been interviewed for or had to interview applicants for a job where the description was written by someone in HR who didn’t really know much about the role or the specifics of the jobs. The ones the really get me are when hiring for a technical position and they require 10 years experience with a programming language or software that’s only been around for a year or two. This might explain why I didn’t get the job or not, but it is the one I go with after a trusted friend double checks my materials for any issues.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        I’m convinced there’s a chart that bad HR departments use that maps the hiring manager’s “must know” to “3 years” and “highly skilled” to “10 years”, without recognizing that it’s possible to become “highly skilled” in a lot less time than that.

        My workaround is “10 years in language X, the predecessor of language Y”. Which is true and tells the hiring manager *and* the HR gatekeeper what they need to know.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        In my experience this happens for 2 reasons:
        1) The hiring manager said they wanted someone with 10 years programming experience AND experience in language X that only existed 2 years, but whoever wrote the actual posting thought they were being helpful by condensing that into one requirement. ::headdesk::
        2) There is no one at the company who knows anything about this and the successful candidate will be the first person who has a clue and thus has to work around bosses who have no sense of what is and isn’t possible and may or not be reasonable in response to the expertise they specifically hired for.

        The first sitch might actually turn out OK, but the second probably won’t and there’s no way to tell at the application stage which it’ll be.

      3. Rabbit*

        HR keeps setting up interviews with people who have every single qualification I’ve asked for except for one. But I keep reminding them that that one is “speaks Spanish” and since a quarter of our clientele is Spanish speaking it’s just not negotiable. Aghhhhh. Two were referred by senior leaders who didn’t know about the Spanish speaking requirement, both highly qualified, well spoken, and great cultural fits, and both clearly thought they had excellent shots, while I was totally phoning in the interviews. I’m sure the rejection was confusing and disheartening for both. I don’t think HR even gave them the real reason.

      4. Marthooh*

        Could you bring four friends with you to the interview and claim 10 years combined experience?

    2. Carryon*

      Agree! There have been several jobs over the years that I thought for sure I would get. I was qualified, had an amazing interview etc etc and was still rejected. It happens. You have to move on and move forward!

    3. Artemesia*

      I hired in program where we wanted a very particular set of experiences and education but could not clearly specify in the ad for ridiculous internal political reasons and so we got about half of the applicants who had very impressive credentials for our organization in general, but not at all for the program we were hiring for and so immediately rejected those. I didn’t blame them for not reading the tea leaves of the job ad although a close reading would have clued them in but it did make it annoying when they would then want to launch arguments and get former employers to call us and lobby for them. Such fun to get those calls.

      1. Libervermis*

        One of my mentors is *so good* at reading between the lines of job ads. It’s partially badassery and partially experience, but she always says “I don’t have a personal stake in it, so I can see what an applicant doesn’t want to”.

        Regardless, not okay to be a jerk about it once the hope-colored glasses come off.

        1. Valegro*

          I was hoping people could read between the lines of the ad for my last job after two of us at the same level left at once. If you read closely the listing was dripping with hostility towards the former employees, but maybe not so obvious if you skimmed it and were desperate since it looked like the usual “blah blah hard worker, dependable, blah blah.” I wish I had saved it since there were specific nasty digs at both of us. If you knew what he was actually saying it was clear you were not to have a personal life and everything was to revolve around the job with its terrible salary.

          1. Tidewater 4-1009*

            There have been times when I saw a job post and thought I should apply but really, really didn’t want to. Couldn’t put my finger on a reason. Thanks to you I will now be more confident at going with these instincts.
            There was one in my last job search where I couldn’t bring myself to apply even though I had a network connection to the company. After a couple of days I realized it was because they wanted a unicorn.

    4. Clorinda*

      Yes, I am right now realizing that based on the hiring window and time since my phone interview, I am not going to be hired for a job I really wanted and for which I am ideally qualified. Sad! Am I going to call them back and demand an explanation? NO, because I am not a crazy person. Someone else was a better fit than I was, that’s all. Life goes on.

  4. Emma*

    You’re right. He sounds very strange and a little scary. The entitlement is out of hand and I definitely wouldn’t respond on my own personal time from my personal email/social media. However, if it was me and I was still working for the company, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with explaining to someone why they didn’t get the position. If I could help someone improve themselves and potentially get a job in the future, why not?

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yes, I agree on the entitlement issue. “But I’m a white male! How could I not be qualified?”

      1. Jdc*

        Ya you need to stop that BS. We don’t know his race nor is it relevant. Don’t perpetuate the problems.

    2. Ellie*

      I second the “scary” part of this. He is essentially harassing the LW. “He tracked me down” is totally inappropriate behavior. Based on what this behavior and what LW said about his lack of qualifications, his entitlement is at very unhealthy levels and I would block immediately.

      I think engaging further with this person is not going to help LW (or the rejected candidate, for that matter). He has has shown he is unreasonable, and as Captain Awkward says, “reasons are for reasonable people”.

      Being *too* direct with someone this entitled is apt to blow up in your face, since they are typically unable to handle criticism. He’s already exhibited a disproportionate reaction to pointing out of a reality that doesn’t agree with his overinflated image of himself (as the best qualified candidate, for example).

      Allison’s recommendation of “We received a tremendous amount of interest in the position and we focused on candidates with experience in administrative and fundraising work in a nonprofit setting.” seems like a good way to try to diffuse the situation for anyone who must respond. It has no direct mention of his lack of qualification of qualifications or not choosing him and sounds neutral, not critical.

      If he is as entitled as he seems, he may tell himself, “well, missed opportunity by that company; my experience is much more valuable” and decide he is ‘better than’ that job opportunity, which is probably the safest route for the company.

      If he is someone who can improve, he could take away from this “OK, those were concrete things they were looking for that I did not have”.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I would just block this guy all together. I mean if he has tracked her down via personal email or social media he is not right in the head. I wouldn’t even send the “I no longer work there email” because he knows you were there, that you were part of the hiring process, or at least the interview process. If you engage he is just going to continue to harass you. I can see him say something like: ” But you DID work for company x and you were part of the Hiring process. So you KNOW why I wasn’t chosen.”
        The only thing I could think of is if the company said something to him like “we thought you were TOO qualifies and wouldn’t ever be able to pay you what you deserve.” But that should come from the company not LW.
        Seriously dude you need to get over it.

      2. Avasarala*

        I agree that further engaging with this person is not likely to be helpful. All it will do is confirm there is a warm body listening to his rampage, and encourage him to continue. This is not the behavior of someone genuinely looking to self-reflect and improve.

    3. ThatGirl*

      There’s not really any benefit to explaining to someone why they weren’t even interviewed. No matter how qualified I feel like I am for a job, nobody owes me an interview; they have information I don’t. It’d be one thing if he’d been a finalist, but only internal candidates are (imho) owed an explanation if they don’t even get an interview. And this guy sounds like he wouldn’t take a polite explanation for an answer anyway.

      1. Raea*

        Ya, I think I’d feel different if it was after an interview – but before? There’s too many unknowns / often has little to do with the individual being passed over and everything to do with the other candidates being pursued.

        In general I’d think it a nice gesture to respond with constructive feedback (if relatively easy to pin point / communicate) – but not if it’s being requested in this manner. Demanding an explanation at the same time as being defensive? No thanks.

    4. Clorinda*

      I think that LW should forward one of his emails to someone at the organization, in case he shows up there demanding to know why nobody ever got back to him. Then, let them decide how to handle him, because he is no longer LW’s problem.

      1. Swiftly Tilting Planet*

        I agree here- the old org needs to know exactly how creepy this guy is being.

    5. Observer*

      Because this person is both highly entitled and clearly unreasonable. They ALSO are clearly boundary challenged. You don’t give people like that the opening to argue EVEN MORE than they are already arguing.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      This sounds off to me beyond white male entitlement. I’m wondering if “interesting” is a polite euphemism for the condition of his work history, or if he’s applying to jobs in which he has effectively zero background is because he was let go for serious behavioral issues at previous positions and has poisoned his former discipline against himself.

      1. A Silver Spork*

        That’s certainly a possibility. My boss once had our department interview a dude that everyone but her was iffy on because his resume had huge gaps, many short-term jobs, and some downward career moves. We all got a “this dude would stab me given half a chance” vibes from him during the interview, and later found out from someone who’d worked with him before that he had anger management issues and that’s why his work history was so bad.

    7. Smithy*

      I think unless the questions were really technical – i.e. the applicant applying had 5 years of professional experience, but the role was looking for 5 years of management experience – I think with nonprofits the opportunity for insight on their application can quickly devolve into a more confrontational exchange around mission and role in the community.

    8. A Penny for Your Idea!*

      Ah, I see you have not tried explaining to a crazy person why they didn’t get a position.

      I have. It did not go well.

      Said person twisted every. single. thing. I. wrote. and came back repeatedly with bizarre aggressive rants about how horrible I and my organization are, and how we had LIED LIED LIED about what we said we were looking for.

  5. HelloHello*

    Strongly agree with Alison that you don’t follow up with this man. Just the fact that he reached out to demand more information – especially that he did it so rudely and has demonstrated other lapses in judgement in his resume – proves he cannot be trusted to act in a reasonable manner. There’s a non-zero chance that responding to him will lead to him hounding you further or outright harassing you. On top of the potential legal issues Alison mentioned, it’s not worth the risk to yourself that replying brings.

    1. Van Wilder*

      Agreed, there’s zero chance that he reads your logical explanation and thinks “Oh, that makes sense. I get it now. They were looking for a different type of background.” It will inevitably lead to more argument.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        This. Even telling him the absolute truth is not going to stop this. There’s nothing you can say that will make him believe that he was not wildly, perfectly, 150% qualified, and that he was not entitled to be hired, sight unseen, over the other bottom-of-the-barrel peons.

        There is no answer that will satisfy him. Engaging with him will not change the fact that there is no answer that will satisfy him. Don’t bother giving him one.

        1. Swiftly Tilting Planet*

          Exactly. My spouse works with a textbook example of Dunning-Kruger, who is INCENSED that my spouse was just made lead and not him.
          My spouse has been there 16 years, is one of their top workers, can do all the work/associated paperwork etc, and has been essentially, waiting for the position for close to 2 years while c-suite & management changes delayed the promotion.
          On top on the fact that they are Union and promoting someone whose been there less than half that time simply wouldn’t fly, he doesn’t have a fraction of the needed skills, + has TURNED DOWN opportunities to learn them, he also thinks being lead is a cushy job standing around pointing at work for others to do, and I am not making that up.
          Luckily, it seems like the right combination of changes has finally been made that the few missing stairs like him will be getting eased out ASAP after replacements are trained.

      2. Ama*

        Yes, people like this prefer to believe that when they don’t get what they want it’s because other people are being unfair or are “out to get them” so they don’t have to admit that they fell short in some way. Every response you could give will just get filed away under “see, I can’t get a fair chance, that’s why no one will hire me.”

      3. Scanon*

        Absolutely. He isn’t really looking for an answer so that he can self-reflect and improve his chances later. He is looking for an admission that he was not hired for unfair reasons, or so that he can use your answer to go back to the organization and argue how he was mistakenly overlooked.

  6. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

    It’s fun to read the vitriol compilations linked in the “you may also like” section — they are among my all-time favorite AAM posts, and it’s always a pleasure to revisit the “astute air of refusal” one!

    1. LITJess*

      Yes! Can we get another compilation post, either from Alison’s experience or commenters? Some petty complaints from an easier time (hahaha, 2008, hahaha) might be nice right about now. I like the win/good news posts, but sometimes you just want to see someone vent their spleen in an utterly counterproductive manner.

    2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs*

      An astute air of refusal! What a gem. I have no idea what that means, but it’s a delightfully wacky turn of phrase.

      I also enjoyed this one: “I am upset to find that I can’t get a formal interview because other candidates have better qualifications than me.” That…is generally how it works?

      1. irene adler*

        Maybe someone was hoping to be hired for their looks?
        I know I was privy to the post-interview discussions betw. our two lab managers. After a discussion of the lab skills, one would always rate them on appearance (i.e.”not blonde enough” and other attributes). Good thing I wasn’t interviewed by this guy, cuz I’m sure not blonde enough.

    3. Joielle*

      “Astute air of refusal” is the best! Why yes, my refusal IS clever and DOES have a good understanding of the situation!

        1. Tabby*

          whet. Whet. WHET.
          Is this person writing a submission for one of those Harlequin romance novels?

          A character background for a text-based roleplaying MOO (those are little games for nerds, usually based on a sci-fi book series, like Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. I’ve seen this as a ‘pose’ from a character or two on MOOs I’ve played, and NOPED outta there fast.)?

          I mean… *inarticulate gesture* WHET EES DIS FOOLERY?!

          1. NopeNopeNope*





        2. Quite Contrary*

          If you’d told me this had been generated by an AI I would totally believe it. WHAT did I just read?

        3. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          WHAT in the ACTUAL &*&% is THAT?

          What did I read?? I am so… words. words fail.


  7. Venus*

    He clearly doesn’t understand that he was unqualified. In my experience these personality types get pushy about wanting a response so that they can argue, and they will not give up. Do not engage with them!

    1. irene adler*

      Firm agree!

      He didn’t even consider the notion of whether he is qualified for the job. With his condescending attitude, the issue is that the employer did not recognize his “greatness” and extend an offer (eyeroll). And you are so right-they just argue on and on, never listening to rational explanation. Best not to engage.

    2. Glitsy Gus*

      Exactly. No matter what you say he will respond with, “here are 8 reasons why you are WRONG and you should set yourself on fire.” He doesn’t actually want to hear it, he wants to be right.

      I would send the two line email saying you don’t work there, can’t speak to this in any way and that he should never contact you again. I may even cc your old boss. At least that way you have written record you told him to buzz off. Then block him and let your old boss know. Do not humor this person, just tell him to go away.

  8. Bookworm*

    Oh yikes. I thought this was a case of someone continuing to email or re-apply or whatever. This is just outright creepy.

    Don’t have any contact with this person. They’ll likely just escalate the behavior. Not your clowns, not your circus.

  9. Philly Redhead*

    On a tangent, I’d love to see another compilation of ridiculous responses to rejections. Maybe a topic for a future “Ask the Readers”?

    1. ...*

      Same, I just went back and read the one linked and it was quite funny, especially now that I’ve done a bit of hiring.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        A favorite at my organization (paraphrased to protect the rude/terrible applicant)

        Hiring manager,

        You are an idiot and a loser and that’s why you do what you do.


        (this candidate has reapplied at our organization NUMEROUS times since this email, but we will not be considering any applications from this person.)

        1. Pennyworth*

          I can sort of understand someone rage-writing that letter, but continuing to apply for positions at the same organization shows a platinum-level lack of self awareness.

    2. Umm, yeah, no*

      My favorite ridiculous response was from an older man in a very small specific STEM field. First, he would not supply the application information we asked for, because “you should know who I am” (no, we don’t). Then he complained that we were wasting his time because we already had someone picked out for the job (not even remotely true, we were just hoping to get someone with relevant experience who was qualified in the other ways we needed also). Then he asked what we were *really* looking for (um, read the extremely detailed job description). Finally he said we were making a grave mistake because (in 24 point type): “I AM EXPERT!”

  10. Bella*

    I encountered so many people who didn’t have the good grace to just give up back when I dealt with hiring a team of contract writers.

    Me: “Hi, just FYI, your resume appears to be partially copied – there is a very similar result in Google.”
    Them: “Ah yeah I was using a guide to fill it out, must’ve left some things in by accident. Am I good otherwise?”

    I have to wonder whether he would really just take your word for it that he was unqualified, and if you mention that you’re replying after not even BEING at that job, I can see it reinforcing the idea of you or them being vindictive. No point in escalating it really.

  11. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    I no longer work for (Org Name) and cannot answer any questions about their hiring processes. Please do not contact me at my personal account again”
    If this is not the case and this irrational individual has tracked you to your new job and contacted you there (via linked in or something), block him.
    Does anyone think there’s a need to loop in the current manager? I want to say no. He sounds like all bluster. OP is not in the location. Just starting a new job, I wouldn’t want to appear to have baggage that you, OP, really do not have. Not your circus, not your monkeys. He may be writing to everyone at the company. You think he picked you out specially, but like all those people who wonder why they “only attract [bad] partners” in the dating pool, you don’t. These people try to latch on to everyone. You are just thinking you are stuck. You are not.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      If this was sent to your new work email I would block it and not respond at all.

      Depending on how things work at New Job. I’ve had jobs that were a little leery of blocking addresses without a reason because they didn’t want to shut out folks with legit business requests. If New Job is like that, or if you are in a position that deals with a lot of “cold call” requests, I might send a note to IT and my manager saying “Hey, I blocked this email address. This person was contacting me about a hiring situation that came up in my previous position and he has nothing to do with what we do here.”

      Unless he starts trying to get around the block with new email addresses or something like that I don’t think you need to worry your manager with it after just one message.

  12. I heard a rumor...*

    Although you have reached out to your former employer; have you copied them on this email? I would. This kind of entitlement sometimes culminates in other scary behaviors. Block him, copy to former org., limit who can see your LinkedIn and tighten up your other social media…he is acting like an incel, except for a job.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Yes, I would forward this to someone I know and trust who still works there and alert them to the problem.

    2. StellaBella*

      After reading all the comments this was going to be my point so thanks for this. I disagree with Alison on this sort of – agree to still block him, but this must be handled as this guy is a creep. OP, I would also point out to your boss who refuses to deal with him the following…. he is harassing you and them, and he needs a stern letter perhaps on lawyer letterhead to tell him to cease and desist and the lawyerly letter can be registered mail he must sign for so you know he go it. It should be a strong warning and include all the dates of contact he sent, and points of harassment you mention. Most commenters, too are saying to block, and yes, for sure – but also keep track of this nutcase in the event he channels more of these incel like behaviours and continues to harass the office etc. These jack holes need to be dealt with, in my opinion.

  13. Wondercootie*

    Block him immediately, and document any contact you’ve had with him just in case. We had this happen with a guy I interviewed, who tracked down my coworker (who wasn’t involved with the position’s hiring, but knew him in passing from an old job). He started harassing her about helping him get hired. This was while I was still in the decision process, and part of the vetting process is looking at his social media. His social media (which was open to the public) was full of nothing but pictures and hero worship of the Columbine shooters. After the very polite, very professional rejection letters came out, he started calling my coworker to complain that we didn’t hire him. Our numbers and emails are public (government agency) so we finally had to get police involved to get him to stop.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      That is terrifying. I hope you live in a place with “red flag” laws and that the police or your company can prevent th

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Ugh, accidentally hit send. I hope you live in a place with red flag laws, so the police or your company can prevent this guy from buying a gun.

  14. TimeCat*

    This is an excellent way to be permanently blacklisted from multiple organizations (because the organization will never hire and employees who move in to other jobs will remember applicants who harassed them). Definitely block him. He’s irrational and scary.

  15. Lisa*

    Must be a full time job, checking with all the people who haven’t hired him! Probably a long list.

  16. Koalafied*

    He sounds like one of those gross people who believe that administrative jobs and nonprofits jobs are for slackers, so because he has any professional work experience he’s obviously over-qualified for a nonprofit admin position. Barf.

  17. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Sigh. This and the other compiled vitriolic responses to rejection letters are another reason so many employers ghost their job applicants instead of sending rejection letters.

  18. Sara without an H*

    Apparently, he’s written to the organization, too, and my former boss refuses to deal with him.
    Your former boss is setting you a good example. Block this guy and be done with him.

  19. Lady Heather*

    Evil HR Lady wrote a beautiful blog about being ‘overqualified’ here: http://www.evilhrlady.org/2011/06/why-you-are-not-overqualified.html

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Also, I suspect he’s severely underqualified for fundraising, because I imagine a fundraiser needs to be able to handle rejection with grace.. and I don’t think he has that qualification.

    1. A Penny for Your Idea!*

      Yup. The last time I was hiring for a creative position, which attracted over 500 applicants, I had MULTIPLE men with PhDs in completely unrelated fields (e.g. STEM subjects) write in their cover letters that they were “overqualified” for the job despite having apparently NO relevant experience whatsoever.

  20. Nessun*

    Totally agree you should just block him and be done! However, I do have one niggling question: what in the sweet chocolate-covered world does he think he’ll get from you by continuing to engage? You don’t work there – does he know that? I’d kind of think he does, since any email he’s using can’t be that org’s email. Are you supposed to give him “insider info” on what nefarious reason this sinister organization had for denying his GOD GIVEN right to the job he deigned to interview for?? What a jerk.

    1. A Silver Spork*

      He’s probably thinking the same thing that people who won’t take “no, I don’t want to date you” for an answer do: either he’s getting a sense of power by lashing out at the person who hurt him, or he’s read too many romance novels bad job-searching articles and thinks that standing outside your window with a blasting boombox continuing to email you is going to work.

  21. Maude*

    What does he want to have happen as a result of this behavior? The hire has been made. It’s not like you are going to say, “I see now that you are right. We will fire the new person immediately and put you in the position”. I never can understand someone arguing when the is nothing that can be done. In addition to not getting this opportunity he will never get to work for that organization.

    1. Observer*

      This person is not reasonable and his expectations are not reasonable either. To put it very, very mildly.

      In other words, he probably DOES expect someone to fire the person who was hired and hire him.

      1. The Supreme Troll*

        I know I’m piling on, but I can definitely see him expecting this to happen as if it would be a normal thing.

        1. MsSolo*

          He is almost certainly the sort of person who has had success with this tactic in other areas of his life, whether it’s bullying managers into giving him refunds for items he didn’t purchase at their store, or more bleakly, rules-lawyering a romantic partner into not breaking up with him. He sets himself up as the peak of intelligence and logic, and if he doesn’t get his way then it’s someone else’s failing, and once he has explained how superior he is they’ll see reason and give him what he wants.

  22. Ominous Adversary*

    People like this gentleman believe that what THEY think they deserve is the axis on which the world turns. If other people fail to give them what they want and think they are entitled to, those people are wrong and should change their behavior immediately (or, at least, abjectly admit to their failure).

    You can’t reason with a person like this or give them any explanation that will convince them that it was OK for them not to get the thing they think was rightfully theirs. Doing so would upend their whole worldview.

    He isn’t asking you for a reasonable explanation that would make sense to a reasonable person. He wants to you to admit that the organization was unfair to him.

  23. Geneva*

    Rejection sucks. I get it. And it sucks even harder when you’re desperate. I was unemployed for nearly a year once and every, “You’re great, but…” email sent me into a spiral. Like, “DON’T THEY KNOW I NEED TO EAT!?” But did I tell anyone that? Hell no. No one is entitled to work anywhere. There are exceptions of course, like if an employer rejects you because you’re a member of a protected class. Other than that, getting hired is ultimately out of the jobseeker’s control.

    Sorry OP – He’s looking for someone to blame and unfortunately you’re it. Time to take the gloves off and tell him where to go.

  24. Peggy Sue*

    I find it scary that a person who acts with such entitlement and uses transgender slurs used to be in social work, of all fields. No wonder he’s job hunting, he doesn’t sound suited to social work at all.

    1. Roz*

      Yes, this concerns me too. He seems very unable to do the basic requirement of social work practice -> reflection, self awareness and professional development.
      On top of that he seems to think his professional training qualifies him for work he has no experience in. This shows his total lack of knowledge of administration and fundraising. These are different skill sets and fields of occupation.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      The absolute most charitable interpretation is that the work was from 20+ years ago, and he himself is a member of the queer community. Even that would rate a lot of side-eye.

    3. A trans person*

      I’m assuming it wasn’t, like, the t*y slur, but something like “transsexuals” (probably the noun form), which I’d read as *deeply* out of touch but wouldn’t really call a slur. I’d be side-eyeing a social worker who used that word pretty hard, for certain, but I wouldn’t be blinded with rage like I would if the slur appeared on a resume of all things.

  25. Artemesia*

    I have dealt with this sort of thing several times and the worst was a guy who bugged the AA for weeks then escalated to me (the hiring manager) and then when I gave the bland response suggested here (and the appropriate one) escalated to the president of the organization (who as far as I know didn’t give him the time of day — he certainly didn’t hassle us). The very fact of his behavior suggested how right we were not to pursue him.

    In our case, he would have been in the top ten on resume alone but he had worked elsewhere in our organization and so I called the people who had worked with him there and their feedback suggested he would be exactly the wrong hire for what we were looking for — coupled with a weird email handle, his aggressiveness and arrogance and we just were not interested.

    His complaint to the president was that we had engaged in age discrimination. We actually had a slight preference for a retired person for the job because we wanted a very high level of qualifications for rather poor pay and it was probably not a great career move for a younger professional(although we were happy to look seriously at anyone with the qualifications — but our expectations were that it would appeal to someone looking for a interesting few years without money being the primary object. We hired a woman in her early 60s and a man in his late 50s for the positions so the age thing didn’t scare us.

    Absolutely as a non-employee do not respond. If you were still there you could send the bland response but as a non-employee it would be seriously unethical to respond and dangerous for the organization to dance with someone this ‘off’ about professional behavior.

  26. SenatorMeathooks*

    I’d block. Or, if I had to write him back, I would state something like, “I no longer work for that organization. Do not contact me again.”

    1. Observer*

      There is no reason why the OP has any need to respond.

      And they should DEFINITELY choose to NOT respond.

  27. animaniactoo*

    This is not somebody that you can explain life to. YOU think that explaining it to him will make him understand and he will accept and change behavior. But somebody who is so over the top as to track you down AFTER you have left your role, is not somebody who will accept it. That is somebody who is going to take whatever you say and then argue with it and try to prove you wrong. You will end up in a never-ending loop.

    Because they will never be able to move beyond the idea that if they were missing something, it is something they could easily learn and therefore you should have given them a chance. And so on, and so forth. They feel entitled to be given a shot, regardless of any reality that means it would be a bad business decision on you or your company’s part. And solving that entitlement? Way above your pay grade. Way WAY above it.

    You are best served by letting your former employer know the extent that he’s gone to in terms of both effort to find you and number of times he has contacted you. To him, you reply once to say “This is inappropriate. It would be inappropriate even if I still worked for Company X, but as I do not it is even more inappropriate. Please do not contact me again.”, then block him but keep documentation of his contact attempts in case you ever need it.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      This is not somebody that you can explain life to.

      This is good. I’m stealing it.

  28. Bonky*

    Every round of hiring I do attracts at least one of these people. (Last time, just before lockdown, I interviewed a guy for a role and after he left, said to my co-interviewer: “This is one of those guys who is going to get back to us to DEMAND more feedback, no matter how much we give him, and tell us how wrong we are in not hiring him. Watch.” Lo and behold, he did.)

    I always view the affronted, entitled emails as a nice confirmation that we made the right decision about the people who sent them!

  29. Essess*

    Make sure your organization is aware of his harassment of you so that they can add that to the reasons to keep him blacklisted from getting a job with them if he applies again in the future. It’s also possible that the legal department of your old job (if they have one) can step in and send him a cease and desist letter or other action since he’s harassing you for your actions that you performed as part of oldjob.

  30. Observer*

    my former boss refuses to deal with him.

    Which is a good reason by itself not to contact him. Also, if you know your former boss to be a reasonable person, that should be a confirmation that this is not someone you should be dealing with.

    All of the background you provide proves that this person is NOT reasonable or in any way amenable to feedback. Block him on social media and set your email to automatically hide anything that comes from him. Also, make sure to set your email client to NOT provide read receipts. Don’t delete his emails in case you need to escalate down the road.

    Do let your former org know about this. I don’t think that they will necessarily be able to help you directly, but it is information that they should have, in case he tries escalating with them as well.

  31. Raea*

    I wonder what his true endgame is here. Does this behavior ever actually…work? Lead to really constructive and ground breaking revelations having a meaningful impact on his self-betterment that he clearly doesn’t think he needs? Or they’ll be blown away by his ‘gumption’ and decide to interview him? I have so many questions!

    And yes, block and ignore. 100% not your problem!

    1. Batgirl*

      There is no endgame usually. It’s just a mindless reaction to perceived criticism. “I’m not stupid, you’re stupid” is the only script they have.

    2. Paulina*

      I don’t know how anyone could think it works for getting a job, but I am frequently faced with applicants to the program I manage who seem to think that if they’re annoyingly persistent enough, we’ll say yes to stop them from bothering us.

      But I manage the whole program, not just admissions, so I’m not shortsighted enough to do that. Like this job applicant, their persistence reinforces the rejection. But there are definitely people out there who act like they can never be rejected unless they themselves agree to it.

    3. MsSolo*

      It works in other aspects of his life. I am quite sure he’s argued many managers into giving his discounts, or refunding products bought at other stores. He’s argued his family into letting him have his way every time (because, in reality, it’s easier than having the fight, but he thinks it’s because they accept he’s right). He’s argued previous employees into quitting, or not quitting, and he’s argued former managers into giving him what he wants until he goes away (until one didn’t, and that’s why he’s job hunting – probably some terrible irrational female who just didn’t understand his superior logic). He has no reason to think it won’t work this time because his life is founded on the idea that he’s smarter and better qualified and more rational than everyone else and if they just give him a chance they’ll come round to his point of view.

    4. Jiya*

      I imagine he’s deeply, deeply insecure – it’s not so much about the job now as about being acknowledged as Right and Correct.

  32. 2QS*

    I’m ashamed to admit I did this once. ONCE. I was 22 and had been given what I thought were signs that I was definitely going to be hired (they’d asked me the extended set of questions that was basically a hidden second interview, and one of the team members I met with sketched out a project I could get started on as soon as I was hired, and then I wasn’t). The organization was under no obligation to pay me any attention when I wrote my letter angrily informing them that I was feeling strung along, but they wrote a detailed letter explaining their decision. I apologized and backed down and never contacted them again across that burned bridge.

    I had to learn the lesson the hard way. This guy doesn’t seem to have learned it at all, though.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      It’s one thing to contact an employer after a lengthy interview process. Especially if they sounded like they were going to hire you. It would be a great for them to give you info since they took so.much time. However, it does

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Sorry, hit sent by accident. What I was trying to say is that the difference here is that you did not contact someone who is not with the company via there personal contact info. Nor did you harass anyone at the company. Don’t feel too bad. Your NOT this guy.

  33. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    It’s a moot point since you no longer work there, but I disagree with one piece of Alison’s advice…even if you did still work there I would block and ignore. He’s being unreasonable, and any reply would fall on deaf ears and fuel him to continue to communicate with you and/or the organization.

  34. riggwelter*

    Absolutely do not respond — any response is validation/attention for the sort of person who would do this and will only invite further contact/confirm that he found the “right” email address for the person he was thinking of!

    I would let your old employer know that he has tried to contact you, but that’s it.

  35. Sarah*

    Definitely block. There is such a thing as politely asking for feedback, but even then it is usually at least after an interview. And this is definitely not that. In fact, he has demonstrated exactly why talking to him would be a bad idea. Personally, I only ask for feedback if there has been at least one interview and preferably two and I am very clear that I am asking not to try to change anyone’s mind but for my own growth purposes. Even then, sometimes I get no response and sometimes I am told their policy is to not give specific feedback. Personally, I wish people would give feedback a little more often, but demanding it is ridiculous and it is completely absurd to tell your interviewer they are wrong and you are overqualified and how dare they treat you this way. Just imagine if you went on a job interview and declined an offer or sent a follow up saying you realized this was the wrong position and the employer sent you something like this about how actually the position was too good for you so it was rude to not offer it to you.

  36. Leela*

    Hey OP, as someone who’s sent a lot of rejections, and at one of the companies which forced us to answer stuff like this, here’s my take:

    There’s nothing you can say that will settle this dude down if he’s not going to. His behavior is based on him, not input from you here, and there’s nothing you can say that won’t just make him angrier/more certain that you’ve egregiously harmed your former workplace by denying them his amazing presence.

    I’ve been yelled at by someone we didn’t hire because we’re obviously racists who will only hire people from India (we did not have a single person from India, not even ancestrally Indian but a US citizen, on that team! We did have on some other teams here and there but I doubt he even knew that, he was just guessing that because he didn’t get a tech role we must be outsourcing, which wasn’t true)

    I’ve been yelled at by a million dime-a-dozen programmers who thought they were just oh so amazing because they were good in school (but didn’t hold up well to the candidate pool at all, and came off as cocky, unmanageable and not worth the time to try and work with when other people weren’t broadcasting those redflags).

    I’ve been yelled at by people telling me how much they made at their last job, so obviously they’d be a shoo in for this one (????)

    It’s just really, really not worth it

  37. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Ah these folks…alive and well I see. And still making job interviewers miserable.

    Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Do not engage, they will never take “No” for an answer. This is gumption on parade. Ignore them!

  38. Generic Name*

    I get why you want to help this guy. I really, really do. If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking that there is one special, magical combination of words that will make him understand and then move forward onto a better life. But this will never happen. Not with this guy or any other unreasonable person. And he IS being unreasonable. Everyone else understood your prior emails and moved on. When I feel tempted to give my reasons to people who just want to know whyyyyy, even when you’ve already told them why, I remember Captain Awkward’s statement, “Reasons are for reasonable people”. When someone shows you they are unreasonable, they don’t deserve any explanations from you. They will never change, but even if they could, it’s not your job to make this Random Guy See the Light. I’m sorry that he’s bothering you. Hopefully contacting you via your personal email (if that’s what he’s done) is the furthest he’ll go.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Wow. Just wow.

      If that guy ever had a chance with your organization, he just blew it right there.

  39. ccnumber4*

    I have been recruiting for a very long time and my favorite was the guy who responded to a rejection letter by sending an email to our general HR mailbox saying he “suggested” that they “replace the pre-pubescent kindergartner you have handing hiring” with a professional. This was in response to the automated rejection that gets sent (not from my email address, thankfully) when you don’t have what I’m looking for. We got a good laugh out of it.

  40. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    The only thing that responding will accomplish is confirming that he got the right email address, and that you can be provoked into responding. Block and ignore.

  41. Chronic Overthinker*

    Job rejection sucks, especially if you’re hard up and need work. When I was unemployed and getting rejected left and right, it was hard not to take it personally. But every recruiter has a different list of items they need to cross off for that perfect fit. It’s understandable that even with a higher education, if you don’t have the right background knowledge, you can fail in any job.

  42. Actual Vampire*

    “If I write him back, might he leave them alone?”

    Out of curiosity, LW, what is it that makes you think a response from you (rather than the org) would cause him to leave the org alone?

  43. SW*

    I’m going to come at why you should block him from another angle: the trans slur in his resume.
    So this is a social worker who interacts with trans people enough to mention it in a resume. But he uses an outdated term that many people hate. I have no doubt that at least a half dozen people, including clients and coworkers, have asked this man to use a different term but he has deliberately chosen to continue using an offensive one.
    OP: what could you possibly say to someone so willfully hurtful that he would listen to you? Like I understand where you are coming from, but there is no combination of words that you could write that this man would believe besides, “they were wrong; I’m going to pull strings and get my boss fired.” None. To reply to him is to engage with someone else in good faith, and this trans person has interacted with enough people like your candidate to know that this email of his was sent in bad faith, and his inevitable sealion-ing isn’t worth the effort you could be putting forward on virtually anything else.

  44. alex*

    Okay, I have to ask – has anybody gotten these kinds of responses from women? And if you have, is about the same number of bad rejection responses you’ve gotten from men? Every example of this I’ve heard has been from a dude.

    1. voyager1*

      My boss at a old job did. To be fair it was not an email but a voicemail. Our IT department saved it since our department used the same phone system as our call center. My boss thought is was actually funny and played it for all of us. The HR department did not find it funny though. The department I worked in there dealt with angry customers, so that is probably why my boss took it the way he did.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Only once, but she was the one whose CV had none of the advanced SQL skills (or any advanced computer skills at all) that we required and had included a drawing by one of her children with ‘please hire mummy’ on it. Ended up blocking her email and phone number because she was exceptionally offended that we didn’t even want to interview her.

      (Returning to work after being a stay at home parent is hard, I know, but why she applied for a job in a field she’d never worked in AND for a job at a high level in that field I’ll never know)

      You’re right in your assumption that the number of ‘how dare you not hire me?’ Or ‘I need the money so you have to hire me’ responses from men is far higher in my own experience.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Once from a candidate – we weren’t very impressed with her application but decided it was worth giving her an interview (the role is one with a slightly unusual mix of responsibilities so we were expecting that we were probably going to end up with someone with experience of some of the elements and a willingness to train on the others) – it quickly became very clear in the interview that she didn’t have any relevant experience, her application had massively overstated her skills and prior roles ( it wasn’t quite the stay-at-home parent recasting caring for their child as personnel management, but close) . She also interviewed really badly and came over as very unprofessional.
      We sent her a polite rejection and she then started phoning, demanding to speak to each of us who had interviewed her and threatening to come into the office and make a scene if we didn’t speak to her. I spoke to her and gave her some accurate but bland feedback about her having less relevant experience than the candidate we had chosen to go with, and she gave me an earful about how she would have been the best ever, and that we were discriminating against her for being a woman (I am also a woman. At the time, our Senior partner was a woman, we had more female than male partners, and more female than make employees. And she had no way of knowing the gender of the person we had hired.)

      (I don’t know what was up with that particular job. One of the other candidates we interviewed spent the whole interview completely ignoring me and even directing his answers to questions I asked him to me (male) colleague. Which as well as being incredibly sexist also indicated he was not paying much attention, as if he had been listening when we introduced ourselves he might have noticed that I was the one who was going to be making the decision on hiring. Although at least he didn’t contact us to complain when we rejected him. )

      Of the 3 occasions in my working life where we’ve had an employee with a similar attitude, two were male and one female, although it was the woman who chose to send us a 5 page letter detailing all the many, many ways in which we had wronged her and would regret not continuing to employ her (she was dismissed for poor performance). We have not, so far, regretted it. She was fairly young, but we were not her first job, or even her first office job.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        You’ve reminded me, the woman we rejected in my above story absolutely accused me of being sexist too! My boss found it hilarious given that I was (and still am) a fire breathing feminist.

  45. BeesKneeReplacement*

    Nothing good can come of engaging with him. Block the email address and archive the email he sent you so you don’t have to look at it but have access to it if things get worse and you need to file a complaint of some sort. Your former employer has made a decision about how they want to handle it and I’d recommend following their lead.

  46. PollyQ*

    Yikes! This is sounding an awful lot like Gift of Fear/stalker territory (Gavin deBecker). I would not respond at all, basic on the theory that any response is positive reinforcement to someone like that. I do think you should forward the messages on to your old company, so they have the full picture of what they’re dealing with.

  47. Courageous cat*

    I feel like… you should be a little more scared of this guy than you are. You owe him nothing. You don’t even work for them anymore. It is extraordinarily inappropriate and boundary-crossing to still be trying to talk to you given that. I’m not sure what anything other than “blocking and ignoring” could accomplish other than telling someone, that if it takes you 30 tries to reach me and I answer on the 31st, now you know you have to try 31 times *each* time you want my attention.

  48. So anonymous here!*

    But wait! I had applied for a very prestigious position very visible in my small world. Although I had many qualifications and was a leader in the field, I was not invited for an interview. A volunteer with the organization cornered the director at an event and demanded to know why I wasn’t on the short list to be interviewed. ( public university, shortlisted candidates were announced) He then told her that they were “making a big mistake. “ How do I know this? He sent me an email describing his actions. Yikes. I replied that as someone who has served on hiring committees and knowing this was in an extremely competitive field for a “dream “ job that I agreed with the committees decision and that as a volunteer he would not have the big picture for the hire.
    I was truly flabbergasted that someone would do such a thing.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Ouch, I would be so embarrassed if someone did that to me. How did the volunteer even know you had applied?

      1. Eliza*

        The comment already covered that: candidates who made the shortlist were announced publicly.

      2. So Anon for this*

        I lived across the country. In this super small world that I work in everyone knows everyone. As a volunteer board member who I had known professionally for over twenty years, I reached out to him to find out about the job. Was there an inside candidate? Was the workplace dysfunctional? Was the corporate culture aligned with my values- progressive left, inclusion, collaborative? Was the financial situation supportive of the role? Support for professional development and conference travel?
        He kept following up to ask if I had heard anything then went off the rails when he saw the short list of four people invited to interview on campus. I could give you a dozen people off the top of my head more qualified than me to do the job.

        Reader- The first search failed. Candidate declined and the committee didn’t want the runners-up. I reapplied. Pretty sure the director didn’t tell the search committee about the “demand.” One phone interview, two on-site interviews, a job talk, five written essay questions, another phone interview and I was offered the position. Almost a decade later I’m still here.
        The board member had since resigned. Continues to be involved in our small community. He assumes that he “got” me the position and has made unreasonable demands of me. At one point started a petition for a public apology from me for doing my job. (he didn’t see anything wrong with that, in his mind, he was just helping me do my job better) On the whole, it is an amazing position and I am grateful for the engaging, interesting work within a community that supports it.

    2. PollyQ*

      Wow! Did you also let the director know that the volunteer was in no way speaking for you?

      1. So Anon for this*

        No. I think during one of the interviews I did say I was encouraged to apply by him and named a few others who thought there would be a good fit. I forgot all about it until this letter in AAM.

  49. Quake Johnson*

    Wow, a link to old posts with less than 20 comments!

    Anyway, Alison hit it square on the head OP. Block and ignore.

  50. HR in the city*

    My recruiter told me that this is happening more and more nowadays and she has been doing recruiting for 15 years. We are in communication with applicants through each step of the process and we always get the I’m qualified why wasn’t I given an interview. Sometimes it’s because they didn’t put relevant information on their application. We tell applicants you need to fill out an application- we do not take resumes (and you can copy and paste). All this does it eat up the recruiters time when she has to justify why the department didn’t think you are as fabulous as you think you are.

  51. Bob*

    Any answer instead of “we changed our minds and are now offering you a job with back pay” is going to lead to him escalating.
    I’m sure you don’t want that.
    So don’t engage.

  52. Phoebe*

    Wow. My first thought was something that happened to us when this whole pandemic started. We were a firm of 12, but when stuff suddenly hit the fan we had to take steps and we laid off 4 people. We did the best we could, paid for health coverage for an extra month, salary for two weeks, let them keep their laptops. 3 of 4 were professional, said they understood, etc, etc, but one….wasn’t.

    When the first PPP loans were announced, he called and emailed constantly, begging us to take him back. He was awful. We did get a loan and have brought one employee back, but it wasn’t him, and I can guarantee we’ll never hire him back even if things get back to normal.

    I would have been fine with an “I heard about the new government programs assisting small businesses, and if they work out for you please think of me, because I loved my time at XYZ Corp.” But not ten “have you applied yet? You can hire me back with all of that free money!” calls and emails.

  53. Student*

    OP, I think it might help alleviate your concerns and guilt if you reframe your assumptions about this person’s motivations in your head.

    Your current assumption is that this guy is clueless and genuinely in need of your guidance to understand that he’s not actually qualified for the job he lost long ago.

    Instead, assume that all communication about a job posting (not just with this guy, but with all job candidates) is marketing/advertisement. This isn’t actually a plea for information from you. This is a further attempt to get a job.

    The technique he’s using is often called “working the ref”. He wants to make you feel like you passed over a very good candidate (telling you that you missed out on a deal to generate missed opportunity regret), and to make you identify with him and feel sympathy for him. He wants you to hesitate before dismissing his resume again by making it emotionally painful to do so, even if it’s just because you know he’s going to reach out to you again 10 times to ask about it. He believes that will give him a better chance at a future job with your org, either directly though you or though information or connections from you.

    Sadly, sometimes this works. Don’t be the manager who gives in to the hard sale – keep being the manager who picks the candidate you think is best suited for the job.

Comments are closed.