Being rejected without feeling rejected

We’ve all been there.

Handed in a CV, filled in an application form or spent ages working on the perfect cover letter only to hear… nothing. There’s plenty of positive vibes around employment at the minute, but plenty of people (particularly at this time of year) are still sending in applications for jobs only to be met by a wall of stone-cold silence. This got us here at the Rare Skills Set to thinking, what’s worse: knowing that you’ve been rejected, or having to assume that you have been?


The answer is simple…

 Knowing that you have been unsuccessful in any endeavour is invariably disappointing, but being left in the dark with nothing but your own doubts, especially when you are (theoretically) waiting to hear from multiple sources, is utterly miserable.

The early stages of our Research Project, developed in conjunction with the Guardian, strongly indicated that this approach, or rather lack of, is one of the foremost gripes graduates have about many applications processes. Not only does it undermine their own sense of self worth and motivation, it does irreparable damage to the company in question’s image in the eyes of prospective employees. You don’t have to look very hard (and we won’t mention any names) to find companies that have built a reputation for doing this, and the antipathy with which they are regarded is, arguably, deserved.


It’s not an option but an obligation!

 The simple fact is that someone has taken the time to fill out an application/write and send a CV/ painstakingly construct a cover letter. Some of these won’t be very good, or at least not appropriate to the job/organisation in question, and the majority will be unsuccessful. This is a seemingly simple statistical fact based on the applicants to jobs ratio and is, for our purposes, unimportant. What is important is that they have done so, presumably with the intention of at least having their application reviewed for suitability, and ideally, getting a job.

Knowing this, are we as employers morally obliged to at least communicate with our applicants regardless of their suitability? Of course we are! Someone who has taken the time to treat an organisation with respect and decency in their application should be treated in kind by the organisation. This is just basic courtesy, and in a country that supposedly prides itself on its manners, is a commodity often lacking from recruitment.


To whom it may concern…

Quite simply, if there’s one thing that’s bound to upset people it’s being treated badly, be that by another individual or by an organisation. Nobody likes being reduced to a number, having his or her humanity stripped away and made to feel unimportant. Applicant tracking systems may aid efficiency, may even be necessary, but they do not replace basic human interaction.

Most (realistic) people will accept that they are one amongst a sea of other keen applicants hungry for a job. That being said, treat them properly and they’ll view you in a positive light; it’s good business practice, it’s polite, it’s common sense, and it makes a small but positive difference to people’s lives.


It is possible to be rejected without feeling rejected – clear communication, honesty and empathy go a long way.

Cold-call marketing strategies are next and boy, have we got something to say on that subject…

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