You’ve done it. You put yourself out there completely, and in response, the whole world barfed. It’s truly devastating when you learn that your brand of “trying your darnedest” is a more interesting, talented person’s accidental diarrhea.
Defeat and rejection are part and parcel of the human experience, although this is clearly unfair since everything ought to be be easy and fun. Unfortunately, if you want to pursue your castle in the sky, knowing some cornerstone rules for how to handle setbacks might be helpful. You also, at this point, probably think you need to read up on how to handle success when that comes your way, but trust that you do not. People who are successful don’t go, “It’s too good all of a sudden. I can’t handle it. I wish there was a magazine for me.”
So what exactly is the rejection call-and-response in these “fast-paced,” “electronic,” and “futuristic rocket” times? And how is it possible not to take rejection personally, even when an employer has technically rejected you as a person by implying they would rather see you at the bottom of a ravine than work for them a single day?
In such cases, planting explosive devices attached to detonators connected to wires running along the bases of the foundations of those prospective employers’ buildings and lighting the fuse feels like the right thing to do. But for the regular, average Joe (haha! that’s YOU now!), going that route might be a little confrontational. Think about the maxim: don’t burn bridges. Also, don’t actually burn bridges.
Most rejections are fairly standard, and the decision to reject you was likely made in a bureaucratic style by a committee of people whose job it is to weed out potentials without knowing personal details. But if you want to be rejected for expressing your deepest emotions artistically, you might consider attempting to gain validation or status from an individual or organization through a creative endeavor. Perhaps you worked for months on that spec fusion script of “Pretty Little Liars” and “Big Brother” that you called “Pretty Big Liar, Little Brother.” Although assuredly nervous about giving birth to your “baby,” you are not prepared for the arrival of your “baby” to be met with indifference or contempt or anything less than balloon animals. If this should happen to you after trying once, I recommend giving up.
The easiest way to get rejected is by applying for a job. It’s also the most difficult to digest, especially when employers sign off their correspondence with a dismissive “good luck” and refrain from explaining what went wrong. Although par for the course, a benign and abstract concept stated generically, like “Well… bye!,” may strike you as insincere and inauthentic. Likewise if you receive an adieu missive that simply states “Godspeed, Murray” and that is not your name.
What do these rejections really mean? “Given your skill set, you’re really going to need luck. We wish it for you.”
It’s also a brush off: “It would be nice if you got another job, but since your absence affects us in no discernible way, we really couldn’t care less.”
Remember, you’re not being singled out. This is a tactic that the heartless crew of Human Resources employs with everyone. The HR department are the surly, cursed pirates of the corporate world, parched of thirst and unable to quench it, starvin’ to death but they haven’t died. AND they have unfettered access to personnel files.
If you’ve ever not been a huge success, you may recognize these typical rejection methods set here forthwith:
The Blatant Truth: “Although we don’t feel like your story is a fit for us, we encourage you to keep submitting and wasting our and your time.”
The Overcommitment to Honesty: “We were impressed with your qualifications, but we have hired someone who is a better fit for the company. She has three degrees from two Ivy League schools. Do you want a picture of this amazing candidate? You won’t believe what she looks like either. We hit the jackpot.”
The Fake Humility: “Although we have found a better match for the position, we are deeply flattered you considered working with us. Little, old us!”
The Breakup: “You didn’t make it through this round, but we know that somewhere out there, you’ll be a great asset for another company and make them very, very happy. It’s not you; it’s us. We don’t deserve you. Please go or we’ll call security, because goodbyes make us cry.”
The Legal Defense: “We are deeply enthused to retain your application on file for the next six months owing to internal company policy!”
The Nag: “We regret to inform you that we found someone else. Someone who really gets us and collates the monthly reports because they want to collate the monthly reports, not because we tell them to collate the monthly reports.”
The Personality Fail: “We carefully scrutinized the results of your Unicru personality test, and frankly, we strongly agree that you have the typology and morals of an underhanded Gypsy. We wish you lots of luck in your future pursuits!”
It’s always best to respond positively to rejections and see them as opportunities for growth and improvement or killing yourself. The following example is just one way to take a disappointment and spin it into something that barely conceals the undercurrent of hatred lurking beneath your polite Mr. Wickham veneer, which tenuously sustains the practically nonexistent relationship between you and your rejecter.
“Dear Company Fat Cat,
“I am ever so grateful and relieved that you found a more attractive and desirable candidate for the position. Imagine if you had settled for me. I’ve been on your end of things before. I dated a guy I never quite loved but who always made me shower with him every morning right after we ate eggs, and it was horrible. So I get it. Although I’m sure you could switch out any number of people in this low-level position and pretty much get the same product. For me, it was just a matter of my livelihood – no biggie!
“I’m glad you were impressed with my credentials; you have no idea how flattering it was to hear that people actually read my CV. (That stands for “curriculum vitae.” I know of Latin. Are you sure you still don’t want to hire me?) Did it break your heart having to choose between two amazing candidates? I hope not!
“It pained me to learn that I passed your math test with flying colors but jumped the shark on the “would you rather” ethics game. Also, I couldn’t figure out which variation of “agree” I agreed with more: kind of agree, agree, or strongly agree? So many nuances of agreeing! Would I ever invoke the Mann Act on my own grandmother after seeing her drag office supplies across state lines? Now that I’ve had more time to think about it, I can’t imagine who wouldn’t! Too bad you don’t offer a follow-up “hindsight” personality test.
“I’m actually relieved I didn’t make it into the first round of the hiring process, because I absolutely hate suspense, and waiting to hear back about a job while I’m draining my savings is like living out my own “Rear Window” hell. No thanks!
“Truthfully, as I was applying online, I didn’t feel like it was a good fit either; I just really needed the cash. So we both had the same instinct. Also, you know how you made the job seem fun, engaging, and ultra-hip but, secretly, it’s boring and you’re a real dickhead to work for? Well, I did the same thing on my resumé! We are practically the same person/legal tax entity!
“But I want to state that, in the end, you were right; I am, in fact, overqualified for such menial labor. Thank you for saying what I’m sure all potential employers are thinking but too embarrassed to admit.
“Sincerement, (French always adds a certain je ne sais quoi)
The Caped Zatanna”
(remember, this is not you, this is your brand)