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Job Hunting: Impressionable Company Rejections

bmweygant profile image Brandon Weygant ・4 min read

So if you've ever applied for a job, you've probably experienced quite a few rejections. Most of these rejections are not memorable in the least and quickly fade away. Others stick out and can actually shape the perception of your entire job hunt and whether it was a good or bad experience. So let's talk about a few (anonymous) rejections that stand out for me.

The Best Rejection

I got an interview through a mutual contact with a local company and the founder and lead developer were very eager to help me launch my career, but unfortunately my skill set didn't match up with what they were looking for at the time. After explaining this to me the founder still took the time to introduce me to the entire present staff and offered me an opportunity to work on my projects inside the company office (it has it's own coffee house!). Rejection and all, it was inspiring to meet a team willing to help put however they could.

The Worst Rejection

I had applied for a job at a startup whose business is getting developers like me jobs. They took the opportunity to reject me as an employee AND recruit me as a customer in the same letter. They explained my profile had been "flagged" as someone who could benefit from their program an proceeded with the sales pitch. Maybe they are right, but this wasn't the way to convince me.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a customer at a prospective or even current employer. It's really dope if you are actually! But I had never heard of this service prior to researching them and applying. I went to them for work, and they turn it around and made it a sales opportunity? This was a massive turnoff for me towards the company.

Everything in Between

1. The "we had discussed it internally, but I didn't know they actually posted a job yet" Conversation

This one was a trip, though the guy was really nice. I was the first applicant so I got a call, and the guy told me this and that what I had applied for wasn't even going to be close to the job description. HE informed me he was in the "gathering applications phase" and would get back to me. Never did.

2. The "I've never heard of your school before" Conversation

I'm pretty sure the interviewer wanted to hear Flatiron School was an accredited college and not a coding boot camp. Is what it is.

3. The Overly Positive Reinforcement Even Though We've Never Talked Rejection

These for me are some of my favorite. It's one thing to praise people over the phone or in an interview when you're actually interacting with that person. But the emails after initial application implying how great a developer I am while telling me no? There is nice and there is trying too hard. The icing on the cake is these rarely come with any sort of feedback, only they are moving forward with someone else. At least the more neutral or negative ones let me know it's experience, quality, or tech stack even if they don't elaborate. Respect though.

4. Getting Ghosted After Initial Communication

It's one thing to be ignored off the rip after applying. It's another thing entirely to have a secondary non-interview interaction with the company and then get ghosted. Nothing like being asked to provide follow up information, providing asked for information, then never hearing back.

5. The "We Rejected You Already But One Week Later We Schedule an Interview for You Anyway Only For You To Fail A Technical Assessment...In A Language You Never Claimed You Knew" Rejection

That's the story. Got an opportunity through my coding bootcamp Flatiron School, got rejected, got another interview anyway. Writing was on the wall when I asked "What language was this" and butchered my assessment of a piece of code presented to me. No hard feelings, as this was an enjoyable experience.

Honorable Mention

**The Wait List - **Not technically a rejection, but, I've recently been wait-listed for the first time by a company I really would be excited to work for if the opportunity does arise. Getting wait-listed isn't inherently good or bad, there really are a number of good reasons why this could be, and there isn't any shame in being a companies 2nd (or even 12th) choice for an opportunity you want. Add in the impact of COVID-19 and there are even more reasons than ever why an employer may use a wait list.

That said, the wait list is probably the least satisfying answer you could receive, especially because you most likely went deep in the interview process with the company. There is at least closure with being rejected, even if it may hurt more initially.

Advice: In your initial bout with the total lack of closure you will likely experience, try to avoid asking "why?", to both yourself and the employer. There isn't really a satisfactory answer that will make you feel better and you will still be on the wait list at best. The employer has a right to there process, and while they likely wouldn't hold the inquiry against you, coming off as understanding and respectful of their process is less likely to get you knocked down (or off!) that wait list.


No rejection is entirely pleasant or satisfying, not even the office space offer I got before. Dealing with rejection, in all it's forms, is one of the key challenges in any job hunt. Think of it like this: Giving up because of how a company rejected you probably means the company was right not to hire you in the first place. Cold, but true.

These are just my experiences, and I am 100% certain they are very tame by comparison to some other stories. At the very least, I hope this means I have had some relatable experiences, if not exceptional. Thanks for reading and feel free to share your rejection stories below!

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