May 23, 2022

Turn a Rejection Email into an Interview Invite

I’ve received thousands of emails from candidates in all my years of recruiting. I don’t remember most of them, but there’s one email that I got a few years ago that I’ll never forget.

It was a reply to a rejection email, and it went something like this:

Hi Rhona, Just got your email re: the account manager role at Company Inc and I wanted to make sure this email was meant for me. If you look at my resume you can see that I have been an account manager for many years. I was surprised to get a rejection email without an interview, so I thought I would circle back to make sure it wasn’t a mistake on your end.

My initial reaction was: “Chad’s got some balls.” But I’ve always had a soft spot for job seekers, even when sitting on “the other side” of the table, so I decided to hear him out. So I replied letting him know that yes, the email was meant for him. However, I was willing to chat with him for 15 min to see if there was something that was missing from his resume.

Ultimately Chad did not get past the initial interview. When I spoke to him, I confirmed that he was, in fact, not a fit for the role as he was missing experience in an area that was key for the role. And by the end of the call, Chad agreed with me. 😅

But here’s what I learned from this Chad:

Don’t take rejection as a final sentencing.

And I’m not saying you should reply to every rejection email like Chad did.

⚠️ I actually don’t recommend using his wording or his approach.

HOWEVER, here’s the rejection Chad-inspired hack that has worked for me:

Background Info:

I applied for a job at a mid-sized company and received a rejection email within 24 hours of submitting my resume. My usual approach when I apply directly to a job is to contact the hiring manager and send my video cover letter after applying on their site. I usually wait 1-2 days before contacting someone. In this case, the role reported directly to the CEO. After getting the rejection email, I knew I had a small window of opportunity, so I sent him this email:

Hi CEO Name!

I applied to the [redacted] role and was rejected. I would love to work for Company Inc as I know I have a lot to contribute to the team. When I visited your website and learned about the product you are building; I just knew that my experience, although not that of a traditional recruiter, would be of great benefit to a team working to humanize candidate experience. This short video explains more about my background: [I included link to my video cover letter].

I’d love to re-apply to Company Inc in the future and would love your feedback on how I can stand out to your recruiters the next time. Would you be open to discussing over a 15 min call?

I never got a direct response from the CEO; however, I did get an email from the recruiter who had previously rejected me, inviting me to an interview. 🎉

I ended up getting the job! After I was there, I confirmed that my video did the heavy lifting. It filled in the gaps that my resume wasn’t able to. That’s one of the many reasons why I love using video. It does the heavy lifting.

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