“Unfortunately” | Rejection on the Job Hunt

Michelle Sander
Aug 1, 2016 · 5 min read

Rejection is inevitable when applying for jobs in a competitive space like remote-friendly Marketing and Branding. All I need to do is search my inbox for the keyword “unfortunately” and I’ll have a nice, plump stack of rejection letters.

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What’s wrong with being confident?

Recently, the TED Radio Hour released an episode entitled Nudge about Judgement and Decision-Making science — one of my favorite pastimes. (Some people have sports; some people have the study of normative, descriptive, and prescriptive theories of decision.) At one point, the episode presents the finding that while men apply to jobs where they fulfill 60% of requirements for the position, women apply to jobs only when they fulfill 100% of the requirements.

While men apply to jobs where they fulfill 60% of requirements for the position, women apply to jobs only when they fulfill 100% of the requirements.

Having known this for some time, I am sure to apply to jobs even if they are a bit of a stretch. I’m cognizant that because of this practice, rejections are far more likely. Because the market for remote marketing positions is so fiercely competitive, even when the job is a perfect fit, the rejections are sure to come in spades.

This isn’t a story of rejection, though, it’s one of confidence. When I decide to apply for a position (more on this here), I have confidence in my ability to adapt and persevere usually through a Hermione-esque level of stick-with-it-ness. As Brené Brown says, “The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness.” And a rejection doesn’t change my worthiness anymore than having confidence makes me a con artist. (Heist films, another pastime.) To amuse you and myself, here are a sampling of rejection letters I’ve received, presented as famous confidence games.

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The Bob le Flambeur

Hope you’re doing well. After much deliberation, the hiring team has decided to move forward with another candidate.

For what it’s worth, we found you to be an excellent candidate and a fundamentally good and likable human being that would be a natural cultural fit for us. There just happened to be another candidate with a slightly longer and deeper track record. The competition was stiff and you performed very, very well.

Please do keep in touch. While it didn’t work out for this particular role, I believe that you could be a valuable addition as our marketing team grows. And that’s not a comment I’m making to the other candidates.

Who’s Afraid of Edward Albee


Thanks for applying. At this time, the hiring manager has decided not to move forward with your application.

Glengarry Glen Ross

Hey Michelle,

Thanks again for making the time to chat with me on Skype about our position. It was a pleasure getting to know you, albeit briefly.

We had a number of very strong candidates, and I’m sorry to report that I won’t be able to pursue further conversations with you about this position. If things change, and as the company grows, I’ll be sure to keep you in mind. I’d also encourage you to connect with me on LinkedIn.

The Kansas City Shuffle

Michelle, I really appreciate the time you put into the application.

Unfortunately, your application didn’t make it to the final round of our search. It’s always tough narrowing the field when we have a lot of wonderful candidates, sometimes it’s simply not the right combination of skills/experience. I’m sorry it didn’t work out this time, but I wish you all the best in your search for a great position!

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“The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness.” — Brené Brown

The Pepper in a Steam-pot

Thank you so much for your application. We are small team, and we are happy that you decided to start a conversation with us. Unfortunately, we are not able to pass you onto the next round at this time.

We wish you every success with your job search!

The Salted Mine

Dear Candidate,

We regret to advise that your application has been unsuccessful.

However, we would like to thank you for contacting us and please feel free to apply for suitable openings with us in the future.

We wish you the best of luck in your job search.

Pig in a Poke

Hey there,

Thanks so much for your interest in our open marketing role.

Unfortunately, your inquiry isn’t making it to the next round of our search. We’ve had a good number of applicants, and it’s been hard to narrow down the field. I wish you the best of luck in your next career move.

White-Van Speakers

Dear Michelle,

All resumes are carefully reviewed by a Recruiter. If you do not hear from us immediately, it is likely that other applicants better fulfill the required qualifications for the position you are seeking. Your resume information will remain on file and we will continue to keep you in mind for future opportunities.

The Iraqi Dinar

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about us and giving us the opportunity to consider you for our team.

We’ve had a very competitive pool of applicants for the position and have had to make hard decisions, and unfortunately I won’t be able to advance you into the next round of interviews. I have no doubt, though, that you’ll be a real asset to an organization in the right position, and I wish you the best of luck with your job search.

To improve your odds and learn about our culture, please follow us on all of our social media platforms.

💚 Ultimate confidence is tapping the heart below to see if it turns green. Find out more about Michelle and view samples of her work at michellesander.com.

Got a rejection letter of your own? Publish it to @Medium this month with the tag #RejectionReflection and post a comment below with a link to your story.

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