Dear Sir/Madam: Please Reject This Application

Earlier this week, I had an interview for a volunteer role at an internationally-recognised social action group. I had some big ideas about how we could democratise tech education here in London, and work with others to achieve that.

It was a close call, but ultimately, they went with another candidate. Ouch.

However, what was most surprising to me were the reactions from my close friends.

You get rejections?

I get rejections all the time. I’ve got more “unfortunately” auto-filled templates in my inbox than I have Facebook friends.

I’ve had a lot of amazing opportunities in my early career. I’m active online, so these have ended up scattered all over the place.

I also like to be open about what I’m doing, because young women in particular struggle to speak up about their achievements and don’t post about them.

But let me say right now, it would be impossible without the flurry of rejections I get every month.

You name an email rejection softener, I’ve had it. Every time an email comes in, I get ready to scroll through the familiar words.

For example, people love the story of my transition into technology. However, as part of that process in late 2020, I received over 50 rejections for a variety of positions.

But even with this, I think that people understand that rejection is a key part of the graduate process.

So, beyond the job hunt, I’ve been turned down for:

  • Speaking engagements
  • Presentations
  • Flatshares
  • Volunteering roles
  • Tryouts
  • Universities
  • Courses
  • Awards

And that’s just off the top of my head…

It’s to the point that I could probably paper a wall or three, or give a compelling spoken word performance of the best one-liners.

Why am I sharing this?

  1. My social media presence has meant that I’ve helped 100+ individuals in their career journey, but I’ve found that I often won’t discuss the above until we’re on a one-on-one call. That seems ironic when it’s been such a huge part of my own journey to date.
  2. By and large, these decisions have helped me to become more resilient and less fearful!
  3. I want to keep myself accountable and normalise the process of “failure”.
  4. The flipside of these rejections are the opportunities I’ve had – if this helps someone else to go for it, it’s been worth my while!
  5. Rejection isn’t weakness or an assessment of worth. I’ve done some great things and can’t wait to see what’s next.

Ultimately, if I’m not being rejected, I’m not exploring outside of my comfort zone.

And if I’m not doing that, I could be overlooking a whole world of opportunities.

It’s taken a lot of work to cultivate this mindset, and it’s not a linear journey. Sometimes it’s tough, and I wonder what I’m doing most days. I also don’t trivialise the very real struggles that the job market and economy can present at the moment; this is a reflection on how missing opportunities has helped me to build stronger going forward.

So, with that in mind, I’m excited for my next rejection.

Looking forward to being the second-choice candidate again sometime soon!

Posted by

Isabel is passionate about improving access to advice and opportunities in sectors underrepresented by female undergraduates. She founded Her Business Now (HBN) in 2017, after holding several mentorship positions throughout university, to share her insights and experience in a universally accessible way.

2 thoughts on “Dear Sir/Madam: Please Reject This Application

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