Responding to Rejection

by Brian Skory

I recently rejected a candidate for a position he had applied for. Based on his resume, he clearly wasn’t a match for the position. His response to my rejection was polite and well thought out, something along the lines of, “Although I respect your desire to not move forward with my submission, I really do feel that I am a good fit for this role. Back in 2008, while working for ABC Company, I worked on a very similar software project and gained considerable experience in the areas of X, Y and Z. Is there any chance you might reconsider and at least have a brief phone conversation about my qualifications?”

After having that phone conversation, it became apparent that he was a potentially strong fit for the role after all. I ended up submitting him.

Contrast this with another response to a rejection that, while it happened some time ago, I never forgot: it went something along the lines of, “You aren’t interested in me for this role? This decision only tells me what a loser you are. Thanks for nothing.”

Although the second candidate may have felt “better” after having gotten that off his chest, what he failed to realize is that he created a lasting impression of bitterness. I would have to think twice about working with such a candidate in the future out of concern that his sour attitude about rejection might be directed at a hiring manager or potential co-worker and spoil what might otherwise appear to be a good fit for a particular job.

The Correct Way to Handle a Rejection

If only for the sake of good manners, the correct way to handle a rejection is to politely acknowledge the response with something such as, “Thank you for the reply. Please do consider me for any future opportunities that look like a good match.”

On the other hand, if you do feel strongly about being a good fit, and that perhaps this isn’t coming through on your resume and cover letter, then consider a polite appeal such as the one above.

The company who rejects you today just might be the one to put you into a dream job at a later date. Maximize your chances of this occurring by keeping the door fully open for future submissions.
As always, we at Stout Systems are interested in hearing how your job search is going. Feel free to drop us an email at
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