by R.C. Miessler, Head Editor, INALJ Indiana
previously published 7/8/13
A Rejection Letter to the Rejection Letter
I regret to inform you that getting four job rejection letters last week was a bit of a downer.
My applications weren’t really close to each other timewise, but I figure that since the new fiscal year for most of your institutions is coming up soon, human resources decided it was time to make sure all of us knew for certain we weren’t chosen for the job. A few of the jobs I don’t even really remember applying to in the first place, which seems to indicate that I sent my application off a long time ago. Regardless, it was nice to get a follow up note, so kudos there.
Now, even though I am grateful to get a response to my application, the impersonal nature of your form letter, while meant to diplomatic and broad enough to cover all the applicants, was somewhat uninformative. I’m not sure what “we chose a candidate whose qualifications more closely match the position” really means, especially considering how vague the job description was in the first place. While I appreciate the generic platitudes and nebulous praise for the many qualified candidates, a simple, “You were not chosen for this position” would go a long way in future rejection letters. However, I would say that a personal note may be appropriate for a finalist who was not selected, so there’s a tip for the future. For you who still send out letters in the mail rather than sending emails, that seems to sting a little more. Getting something in the post still stirs up feelings of excitement, yet I can almost always tell a rejection letter based on the return address and thickness of the envelope. I still read it, hoping for a personal, hand-scrawled addendum at the bottom encouraging me to keep working at it, but that hasn’t happened so far. If you’re going to send something in the mail, why not a postcard? It could even have pictures of cats on it. Librarians love cats.
As a high school student, I burned the rejection letters from the colleges I applied to. Now, my policy is to keep your rejection letters on file. One day I hope it will remind me of the hard work it took to (eventually) get my job as a librarian and be an archive not necessarily of my failures, but a tome that shows I didn’t give up, even though it looked pretty bleak, as it does today as I write this. However, I’m confident that one of you will eventually make the phone call that says, “You’re hired.”
I wish you success in hiring me in the future.