Thank you very much for your interest in our company. After carefully reviewing your resume, while it demonstrates a strong degree of achievement and experience, we regret to inform you that we will not be proceeding any further with your application at this point in time. Thank you again, and we wish you all the best in your career.
We have all been there. The automated rejection email. A non-descript, completely impersonal instrument used to let down the scores of applicants that aren't selected each year. Prepared in advance, and with just the right amount of ambiguous adjectives that can apply to almost anyone, these emails are sent en masse, and chances are you've received one (or a hundred) too in your lifetime.
How It Starts.
Stop me if this sounds familiar: Done with school, you're finally ready for your first job. You apply to your first, second, and even third choice companies. With a glimmer in your eye and the kind of indomitable spirit found only among the freshly graduated, you send your glorious, painstakingly-crafted resume and cover letter out into the world. And almost always, we expect nothing but impressed reactions and interview invitations from any recruiters who contact us.
Recruiters, on the other hand, receive thousands of similar applications from people just like you. As positions are limited, recruiters naturally reject several times more applicants than they accept. It follows reason then, that statistically speaking, it is more likely than not your application will be thrown in the "rejected" pile. And that's okay; nobody can expect to get the first job they apply for. So we send a few more applications out, and yet again, perhaps naively so, we hold our own resumes in high regard, fully expecting bedazzled employees to start sending us employment offers.
Rules of Engagement?
Fast-forward a few months, and you've grown accustomed to, if not fully expecting, the automated rejection email. Sometimes however, these emails, though automated, are sent from a recruitment address that is manned by a real, live recruiter on the other side. The emails themselves may be mass-produced, but a reply might get through.
After getting tired of receiving these emails, I started doing something most people do not consider: Responding.
You see, most people don't bother replying to an automated-looking rejection email. Akin to an unspoken rule, a protocol of behavior if you will, the recipient of such an email is to assume the conclusion of the application process, and as such, the end of all further correspondence with the employer. Likewise, merely believing that there is no human recipient to which to reply thoroughly discourages any attempt at further contact.
Why Reply At All?
Perhaps a typical knee-jerk reaction would be to respond to rejection with an angry, retaliatory email fueled by pride and self-esteem. Indeed, I've come across many colleagues who wanted nothing more than to let the recruiters know just what they think of them and their rejections. But not only would that be unprofessional, it ruins all chances of you ever getting hired by that company, should another opportunity arise in the future. What's worse is that word of this less-than-pleasant letter might get out to other companies in that same industry, effectively black-listing you in their recruitments as well.
The Better Alternative.
There is an alternative. A response to a rejection email can be a good opportunity to demonstrate to the recruiters your strength of will, determination, and passion to pursue your career goals at this specific company, potentially even showing recruiters they made a mistake in rejecting you.
I'll take myself as an example. I have been repeatedly applying for a position at a certain well-known consulting firm for the past year and a half. Every time I apply, I receive the same automated rejection, despite any experience gained elsewhere in the time between applications. It would seem that no matter how I bettered myself as a potential candidate through experience, through certificates, through trainings, it amounted to nothing more than another copy of the same dreaded email in my inbox.
So instead of accepting such rejection quietly. Instead of letting my dreams go gentle into that good night. I now write a little something back. To let them know, let them understand, that not only am I willing to fight for this job, it is also not the last they've heard of me. And if you ask me, I encourage you to do the same.
Dear Recruiting Team,
Thank you for your email. No apology is necessary, I understand. Despite doing whatever I can do as a person to help my resume stand out and be more impressive to companies such as yours, I know that there will always be someone else who is better than me, I do not take it personally.
But I want you to know; I will keep applying to your company every recruiting season, as I have been doing since last year. Strategy is my passion and consulting is my dream, and if I have to apply to your company every single day for the next few years, I will do so until I get a chance at an interview.
So please, be prepared to see my name in your applications every quarter of the year, not as a sign of defiance or stubbornness, but as a sign of determination.
Written by Ragy Selim
Yonsei University MBA / Global Market Developer (Millenuum Inc.)