Cennamology Chief Editor
The rejection letter is never something that one wants to be the recipient of. The dreaded result of all of the hard work put into an application for a job, college, or internship is the rejection letter. Receiving one of these letters initially leads to disappointment, bruised ego, and anger. However, a rejection letter can also bring new opportunities and valuable lessons.
Because of this, it is sad to see that the rejection letter appears to be a dying art. While colleges are not abandoning the practice, employers certainly seem to be. Many people often submit an application for a job or internship and never hear anything from it one way or another, almost as if the application was sucked into a black hole never to be seen or heard from again. It is also not uncommon to receive an interview for a job and then never receive a follow up after several months of waiting.
It is this lack of closure that can cause many problems for applicants who have not been formally turned down. Without an indication that the door to an opportunity has officially been shut, job hunters may be dissuaded from pursuing other openings by the idea that they still have a legitimate shot at landing the job they do not yet know has been filled. A person may be hesitant of moving on to other opportunities because that would constitute a self-imposed defeat, acknowledging the failure of landing the preferred job. Understandably, one does not want to harm their own ego, so rejection letters provide this valuable role in society – a role that can only be filled by this once-routine piece of business literature.
This fictional (or, as far as I know non-fictional) version of yourself would have benefitted from rejection. The closure, as well as the opportunity for reflection, that a rejection letter provides gives it a value that cannot be understated. Rejection, while disappointing, provides the opportunity to move on and reflect not only on what might have been, but the new opportunities that now lie ahead. If your crush had rejected you sooner, you could have easily found another date, and there is no way of knowing what that may have led to in the long-run.
I have had a similar experience applying for jobs this summer. For the Masters’ program I am in, it is a requirement to complete 300 hours at a job or internship before graduation, which for me is next May. Like a high school student searching for a date, I too have a deadline and cannot tolerate being strung along by employers who think they are being nice by not officially rejecting me.
It is through this experience that I have truly learned the value of the rejection letter and have started to miss the emails that I once wished would never see the light of day in my inbox. Out of the 16 jobs and internships I have applied for since January, I have been accepted by one. However, out of the 15 applications that did not accept me, I only received a formal rejection letter from one. Ten of the applications went into a black hole and another four ended with an interview with no follow-up.
One application, after trying to reach several people in the office for months with no success, ended in frustration because I found out months later (after being given a promising indication that I would be given a job) that they were unable to hire anybody for the job they were trying to fill. Therefore, not only had my interview failed to elicit a follow up, but my several emails sent directly to staff asking about the status of my application had no response.
I am not trying to evoke sympathy from anybody, because I know that this situation is not unique to me. It is not unreasonable to feel like the hard work put into an application warrants, at the very least, a rejection letter. Instead, job applicants everywhere are being strung along with false hope and no closure. Rejection letters are not just common courtesy, but a social service too often taken for granted.
While there are no empirical studies to indicate one way or another, I would postulate that “silent rejection” is now a more common result of a job or internship application than a rejection letter. This may be a recent phenomenon too, at least if my experience is indicative of anything. Throughout college, all of the internships that I applied for and was rejected from sent me a kindly-worded rejection letter making me aware of the decision. In graduate school, it is less than ten percent.
The only possible explanation I can think of for why an organization would not want to send a rejection letter is to avoid upsetting or discouraging a person. Another reason for the hesitation may be the fear of a possible hostile response to a letter. To this I say, grow a pair. By time a person enters the working world, they would have dealt with rejection in the past. You are making people weaker, not stronger, by failing to send rejection letters.
In a societal context, closure is important. Rejection letters are the most basic form of closure, and if more organizations continue to ignore this responsibility, future generations will become less accustomed to dealing with disappointment. This is a very unfortunate thing because in order to truly appreciate the feelings of acceptance and success, one must be familiar with the feelings of rejection and defeat.
So do not be afraid of disappointing people when necessary. We cannot let the words “we regret to inform you,” die and take the valuable lessons about humility that they teach with them.