The Art of Rejection

We’ve all, at some point in our lives, faced some sort of rejection, be it from a company, a potential partner, a transplanted organ or a surrogate mother. Rejections for job applications are perhaps the most common, and we learn to deal with them; the first one hurts, the second one is easier, and when you hit double figures you just take it in your stride and plough on. The formality of the job application rejection helps, the sterility of the response, the lack of sincerity and the vague promise to keep you on record. “Dear <INSERT APPLICANT NAME HERE>”…you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

Kudos must go, however, to a certain company that will remain nameless, who not only sent me two rejections via email — from two different people, natch — on the very day that I applied for the job, but also, as I discovered today, informed me by post in a letter written by a third person. I’m hoping that a fourth person will phone and a fifth person will fax, just so I can complete the set.

I have a certain amount of respect for a company so bureaucratic that they can send three rejections to one person for one vacancy. I can’t decide whether I want these people to know that they sent three or not. On the one hand, if each party was fully aware of the other two, then that’s a beautiful thing — a company so anal that it employs three people to do the same thing but that’s ok. On the other hand, the thought of a company that has developed an administrative side so bloated and layered that it can employ three people to do the same thing and nobody notices has a certain amount of artistic appeal as well — in terms of visual surrealism, it’s the Coen brothers versus Terry Gilliam.

The rejection process can say a lot about a company, and some will deal with the matter professionally, and some will employ someone else but not tell you for a month just in case the person they chose turned out to be a kleptomaniac. The application process can also say a lot; I once applied for a job at a university, which requested that I send 9 copies of my application form to them. Why on earth they needed 9 copies, I didn’t ask, and just assumed that they needed to shred them for bedding. I didn’t get that job, and I remember being disappointed that they didn’t send me 9 copies of the rejection letter. Perhaps I should have complained, 9 times.