One of the weirdest rejection letters I ever got was when I sent a resume and cover letter to Esquire magazine in the closing months of my senior year of college, looking for an entry-level editorial position. They responded with the form rejection letter (a photocopy on a half-sheet of paper) they use for submissions of short fiction. I never found out if it was an error or if they were backhandedly claiming my resume was so full of lies as to be fiction.
The weirdest I got recently was this one from Verizon.
Thanks for applying to the API Developer Relations position in Seattle, WA. We’ve reviewed your assessment results and you did not receive a passing score for this role. As a result, your application will not be further considered. The results of your assessment will stand for six months. You can re-apply for this position, if available, six months from the date that you took the assessment.
This was the “painful interview” post where the assignment did not provide clear instructions about expecting a presentation, and I just felt like they were digging for answers I wasn’t giving. Apparently, that process wasn’t a thumbs-up/thumbs-down… there was a score.
Typically, rejections say that the team simply chose to move forward with one or more other candidates. “You did not receive a passing score” is literally another way to say “you failed.” Then to say, “the results of your assessment will stand for six months,” is like saying, “this is going on your permanent record.”
I can understand a policy of not being allowed to re-apply for the same role for six months after not being chosen, but this was really weirdly worded.
Between the way the assignment left out essential details about expectations, the aggressive way of telling me I failed, and not even acknowledging the hours I did put in (unpaid) on the assignment I failed, the emotional awareness/intelligence in this letter is severely lacking.
Here’s how they could have phrased it.
Thanks for applying to the API Developer Relations position in Seattle, WA. While we sincerely appreciate the time and effort you’ve put in meeting with us and interviewing so far, the team has chosen to explore other options.
Company policy prohibits re-applying for the same role for six months, but should this role be open or re-open in six months or later, we invite you to apply again at that time.
Maybe I should apply for a role in external HR comms and rewrite their horrible boilerplate.
After the horrendously toxic culture I encountered in my couple of months contracting at AT&T, I should never have fucked with another telecom. And the recruiter telling me that they’d waited so long to respond to my application because this team’s initial hire didn’t work out at the last minute should have been a warning sign.
It was a big job. It is a crucial role in a massive undertaking to change and unify the software development culture at a corporate behemoth. I did not “get” their culture or the levers to change it from my outsider viewpoint. And my inability to describe a strategy for doing so in a way that met their expectations was what killed me. I didn’t ask the right questions, some I didn’t ask soon enough, and I didn’t deliver what they wanted/needed. That’s on me.
But a poorly described assignment with a really short turnaround and a rejection in an imperious tone, lacking the simple emotional intelligence shown by HR departments for companies 1/1000th their size? That’s on them.
Don’t worry about the six-month wait Verizon. The next time I apply will be… Is never long enough?