These Are My First Six Rejection Emails. Here’s How I Responded.

It’s been one week since I started applying for developer roles in Austin and I’ve already gotten six rejection emails. Seeing as how I’ve spent the past two years writing emails for a living, I thought it’d be fun to break these down and give my thoughts on each one.

If you want to see my actual response to the emails, keep reading till the end.

I’m withholding company names because I feel that including them won’t add anything significant to this post. I also want to avoid creating any negative bias towards them — after all, they have every right to reject candidates, and it doesn’t make sense for me to be petty about their decision.

With that being said, let’s get petty.

NOTE: The following segment isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Skip ahead if you want to see my actual response.

This rejection letter was a late Christmas gift. Let’s pretend I got it last week.

“Thank you for your interest in Company Corp Incorporated” * 2

You sure know how to flatter a gal, Company Corp.

“We received your application for the Full Stack Web Engineer position”

You already mentioned this in your previous ‘thanks for applying’ email, so repeating it must mean some good news is coming up!

“Unfortunately, we will not be moving forward with your candidacy at this time”

You tease.

“We are a fast growing company, and our roles are constantly changing”

“We won’t be moving forward with your candidacy on those roles either”

“The CompanyCorp Team”

“Our entire team gathered ‘round a single computer to write this rejection letter.”

“Thank you so much for your time, and interest in Jobs “R” Us”

I promise you that the time I put into clicking the Easy Apply button is roughly equivalent to the time you put into scheduling this email.

“We have decided to move ahead with another candidate who we feel is a better match for this particular position”

I’m in the first wave of rejections, aren’t I? There’s still more than one candidate in your pipeline, isn’t there?

“Regards, Michelle”

Thanks for the email, Michelle Donotreply.

“Hi Christian”

Finally, an honest greeting. And check out that email address, talenthelp. I’m talent! I need help!

“Thank you for signing up”

Two words, ten letters. Say it, and I’m yours.

“We unfortunately can’t make your profile visible at the moment because your background doesn’t align to our current employer demand”

None of those words are the words I was expecting.

“We’ll keep your profile on hand and will get back in touch”

“That hand will be dirty. It will also be the hand used to get back in touch”

“We’ve had a great response to this position”

No need to jerk yourself off in my rejection email, thanks.

“Needless to say, we’ve had to make some really tough decisions”

“We just couldn’t decide what hand to jerk ourselves off with”

“You can change your email preferences at:”

Time to put myself on the ‘hired’ email lifecycle.

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider you for employment”

Your attempt at empowering me did not go unnoticed. That’s literally the only thing that stands out in your email, though. Find a better template.

“Thank you for your interest”

I’m interested in many things, including more specific subject lines.

“Dear dChristian”

Run that by me one more time?

I hate you.

“The information you have presented has been given close review”

Except for my fucking name.

What led me to write all of that? Did those rejections get under my skin and force me to vent in my own creative way? Is this what unemployed web developers do in their spare time?

Yes. And also yes.

There are actually a few reasons I decided to write this post. Aspiring developers hoping to transition careers through coding bootcamps or online learning resources are fighting an increasingly uphill battle due to their perceived inferiority compared to traditional computer science graduates.

Anyone can sign up for Codeacademy/Treehouse/etc or take a loan out to learn to code for a few weeks or months, and more people are doing just that every day. What good could they possibly be?

I wanted to let those of you going through the same journey know that the rejections you get, whether it’s a few or a few dozen, are no big deal. You’ve already overcome the toughest obstacle by deciding to make this change in your life. Do you know how many people sit on their laurels and wish they’d taken a leap of faith like this years ago? It’s, like, five people, at least.

I also wanted to turn these rejections into something we can laugh at instead of letting them put us down. After all, are we really going to let an automated template email shut us down and render all the time and effort we spent learning and honing this craft null? Over my broken Heroku deployment.

In this post’s title, I said that I responded to these emails. I did, but not in the way that you’d think. All but one of them came from a donotreply address, so actually writing to each one would have been a waste of time.

Instead, I responded by buckling down this past weekend and upgrading myself as a web developer, starting with my portfolio site.

Our first efforts are rarely our best, and to prove it to you I want to show you my first attempt at a portfolio site in 2016.

Look at what I birthed from my mind womb. Pride is not the word that comes to mind.

I was trying to implement a one-page compilation of my skills, qualifications, and experience. Instead, I ended up implementing a dumpster fire.

This time around, I started from scratch, building the site in React to challenge myself and take advantage of react-router’s awesome capabilities.
Have you memorized the URL yet?

In the span of two hyper-focused days, I created something that I’d be proud to show anyone. I have those emails to thank because I honestly don’t think I would have pushed myself to get the site done this quickly otherwise.

Being an aspiring developer is pretty fun right up until you get that first generic rejection. You feel like you’ve gone from a creative and capable individual to just another number in a company’s applicant tracking system.

And sometimes, you become a number with a misspelled name.

That’s the moment when you fire up your code editor and make something great.

Write, review, revise, rinse and repeat.

Perseverance is the name of the game. Turn your perceived failures into a reason to become an even greater success later on so that by the time you have your first offer in hand, you’ll look back and marvel at how much you’ve improved in spite of being passed on for ‘other candidates who more closely match our current requirements.’

Thanks for reading. You rock.