I’ve come to believe that rejection letters are a pretty great thing.
No, not because “you can’t succeed without first failing” or because they are a symbol that you tried. I mean, yes, sure, you can’t get a rejection letter if you don’t put yourself out there - which we should all be doing - but my appreciation for rejection letters has nothing to do with optimism and a can-do attitude.
It’s about closure.
I have received the form letter thanking me for my interest but informing me that another candidate was chosen or that the position wasn’t being filled at this time due to changes in the budget. I have received the stock rejection to a speaker proposal assuring me that, while my ideas were not selected this time, I was certainly encouraged to try again next year and come see what better ideas were chosen instead! And at the time it was, most certainly, a bummer.
But you know what’s worse than a form letter rejection?
The tiny bit of self delusion that says, maybe they just got busy and haven’t gotten around to contacting you just yet. THERE’S STILL A CHANCE!!
I was talking to a nurse the other day about a job she applied for over a year ago. The last conversation she’d had with her interviewer indicated that she was perfect for the position and they couldn’t wait to speak with her again! And then… nothing. Follow up calls were met with vague comments about unexpected delays. Now, several months later, the nurse still wonders what happened to the job she applied for. She’s since heard about other nurses being hired, but never received so much as a form letter.
“Tell me you heard I was difficult to work with, or a little crazy, or something! But tell me something!”
And I get it. We’re constantly told that the worst thing that can happen when we ask is that we will be told no. We are encouraged, and rightfully so, to ask anyway. Keep trying. Keep pitching. Keep applying and proposing. But be prepared for something even worse than no:
Photo by Britt Reints