I have been rejected for so many jobs in the past 6 months, too many to count, really (like 20). At first, I took it really hard. The “job that I knew was a stretch but I had a personal connection” which turned me down the day after I got back from visiting my mother in the hospital was pretty bad. The “industry-shift with a lot of responsibility that would have been really interesting and challenging despite being almost the exact same job as I had before” that would call once a week to make an excuse for not being in touch and tell me that the decision was imminent almost gave me an ulcer. After three weeks, they finally rejected me and I was so mad, I never called back. Most of the time, you don’t hear anything at all.
I am very meticulous about followup, and always try to send a personal thank you card by mail. This is just a reflection of my personality. I am unfailingly polite to people who are mean to me (but I also forget everyone’s name and have a tendency to nod my head even when I don’t understand a word that is coming out of your mouth–all of which have gotten me in trouble in the past).
Hiring organizations are not meticulous about followup, and they are not good about timelines and notifications. They mostly just don’t have time, but I also know from experience that it is awkward and difficult to let people down, especially candidates you have met in person. But they are also not great about rejection. I get it, breaking up is hard to do. Whatever. But at least let me know you have filled the position, so I can move on.
Some organizations do it right, though. And these are to be commended. Last week, after a particularly grueling few days of temping and crazy interviews, I got an email rejection from a small arts organization. It was for a part-time job, ultimately not the right fit. But I was still disappointed. Then I read the rejection email more carefully. It was sensitive, complementary, and kind. It was sent in a very timely way. And the coup de grace–it invited me to join the organization’s email list and offered me opportunities to volunteer. It was very thoughtful and nice, even though they were asking for my free labor instead of my paid labor.
Presentation is everything.