Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rejection Letter Genres

There is an interesting discussion on rejection letter genres. I collected a few of them for laughs. IISc normally follows the Black hole rejection model or the Don't Shoot the Messenger model (see below). When I had applied for a faculty position in IISc in late 1997, I got the job. The offer letter followed the Don't Shoot the Messenger model, " I am directed to inform you that you have been selected..." But when I had applied in late 1996, I got a rejection letter of a different genre that is listed below. I will leave it to you guess what it was.

  • It's Not You, It's Us - "You really truly are special and a unique and valued human being, but we really had an astounding array of highly qualified applicants and..."
  • Postcard or Mass Email - "Your application to Snooty U. is no longer active."
  • You All Suck - "We had a kazillion applicants. None were suitable. We closed the search."
  • Baby Announcement - "We don't want you. But let us tell you all about the Chosen Person..."
  • Weirdness - "We had a bajillion applicants. None were suitable. But you were great but sorry"
  • Dear John (Jane) Break-Up Letter: "It was great getting to know you better and let's stay friends..."
  • The Black Hole Rejection - apparently the sheer density of Important Academic Minds all located in such a small area prevents rejections ever from leaving the desk of the search committee chair.
  • Don't Shoot the Messenger - "The search committee has asked me to inform you that you are no longer under consideration."
  • The pleasure is ours: We want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to review your incredibly interesting materials that you put together to apply to our job, which we won't be considering you for anymore.
  • No Social Skills: "The SC has formulated its short list and I am sorry to report that you are not on it."
  • Ooops! There's no $ for this Position - We know we put you (and others) through phone interviews, campus interviews, checked all your references, but now it appears that we do not have the $ for this position after all.
  • HR Robot - "Dear NAME OF APPPLICANT, Position #24601Q55X has been filled. Please see [HR WEBSITE HERE] to apply for another position."
  • We're Totally Lying - "Dear DR. WRONG-NAME, After carefully reviewing your materials with the utmost consideration possible, we regret to inform you..."
  • Odd Euphemisms[We wish you a beautiful day and the best of fortune in your journey towards employment..."]
  • The Make-Us-Feel-Good-About-Rejecting-You "Please accept my sincere wishes in your job search, and I am sure there is a high probability that you have already signed a contract for another position elsewhere"
  • Keep Your Chin Up "We would also like to emphasize that our decisions had at least as much to do with the needs of our department as with our evaluations of an applicant's qualifications, and hope that our decision will not discourage you as you continue on in the job market process."
  • Can’t Write My Way out of a Paper Bag. Thank you for your interest in the faculty position at X. We have completed the search and have selected an individual for this position.
  • Tautological rejection letter. The Search Committee for this position met recently to review all the applications, which were received. Unfortunately your application was not among those, which were chosen for the short-list of candidates.
  • Social worker's rejection letter. Our decision should not be read as a judgment on the quality of your work or your abilities.
  • Too Toxic. Thanks for applying. Here are your application materials. You might need them in the future.
  • Diversification. We used you and a bunch of other people to apply but had no intention of hiring anyone since we had someone already on the faculty/staff (or their spouse/lover) who we needed to transfer and just needed to convince ourselves that we are committed to diversity.
  • Old Friends. Although you are a stellar candidate and we should be kissing the bottom of your shoes to get you here, we prefer to hire the ABD candidate with no pubs, grants, or presentations because he is an alumnus of our university.
  • That Which Shall Not Be Named. On behalf of my colleagues and myself, let me thank you again for your application and for the chance to look at your work so closely. I am sorry to have to bring disappointing news. What news?
  • Friends and Family. We are pleased to announce the hiring of Professor Great White Hope from Awesomest University, who has done X as well as the Y we really need and who is moreover an alumnus of our department, returning to us after a two-year stint at Awesomest. We look forward to adding him to our marvelous faculty. Good luck in your job search.
  • The Double Down, two rejections in one letter. "I am writing to let you know that we have successfully completed our search for the position in our department for which you applied. This process took considerably longer than we had anticipated because a second, unanticipated position came open in our department, and we also considered your application for this second opening. I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your candidacy twice.
  • Insincere Sympathy. "I know from personal experience how painful the job seeking process can be and wholeheartedly hope that you find a position in the future."
  • Do I need to open this? An email saying, "Please see the attached file regarding your application." The attached file was called, "MyNameRejection.doc"

    Niket said...

    Rejection letters often fall in multiple of these categories; the one you guys sent me two years back spanned three of these categories :-)

    Anonymous said...

    Here is a similar scientific thriller book (non fiction) which caught my scientific interest.It's the Poincare's Prize: The Hundred-Year Quest To Solve One Of Math's Greatest Puzzles by George G. Szpiro.It's available both on
    Amazon and flipkart in both hardback and paperback versions.