My Favourite Rejections
Written by
Joanna Brown
December 2014
Written by
Joanna Brown
December 2014

It's a shame, in some ways, that we don't apply for jobs or enter contests by post any more, as it means that we no longer get our rejections in a paper format. Old-style rejection letters made excellent wallpaper.I even used my rejection letters in a GCSE art project when I was 16.... and achieved a D grade- another kind of rejection, I suppose, though this one richly deserved. Stick men are my limit.

You'd think that the use of email would encourage rejectors to let you know of their intent to reject you - after all 'Thanks, but not a chance in hell' is now only a click of a mouse away. It can be produced in one handy email to click to a multitude of rejectees, none of whom you ever need speak with. But no. The incredible potential of this easy-to-use and inexpensive medium is not being utilised by would-be employers who think that the several days' worth of effort put into a job application is worth less than the clicking motion of a finger. In my period of unemployment last year, very few of the many employers I graced with an application felt that typing the word 'No', and sending it my way, was worth  their effort.

My most recent rejection reached me yesterday, and was of the poetic variety (well, my offering was poetic, I wouldn't say the rejection email was). It was from an online literary journal, which rejected my submission with something along the lines of 'sorry, it's not for us'. I was impressed by this rejection, as it was well within 24 hours of receipt. They knew what they liked, and my hastily revised couple-hours-before-the-deadline verse was not it. Fair enough. I like a good swift rejection. It's polite, and respectful. If you don't want me, I'd much rather you just told me so than allowed me to hang around you, vainly hoping and dreaming.

I've had plenty of rejections from academic employers, most in the form of not even responding. There are some exceptions, however.... the University of L sent me a letter in two languages saying 'nope'. I appreciated the effort. My favourite academic rejection was from the University of N, for a postdoctoral research post. I believe the title of the post was something like 'Advanced Postdoctoral Research Associate'. I emailed it at around 10pm, and received my rejection email at 6am. Quite clearly, the chap had woken up at the crack of dawn, checked his emails, seen my application, and had the visceral reaction of: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.... He was in such haste that he didn't even wait to have his morning cuppa before breaking the news to me. He politely explained that I did not count as an 'advanced' candidate, possibly because I hadn't managed to publish 10 peer-reviewed articles and run 5 conferences in the space of a year. What with other considerations such as earning money to survive, and not having an army of helpers to do all my laundry, I had failed to become Advanced. Alas, University of N. Alas!

My favourite favourite  though.... a non-academic post for a utilities company. I applied. They replied... 20 minutes later. I wouldn't mind, but my other half works there. What hope is there, when even nepotism fails?

But you have to admire their strength of conviction though. A rejection in 20 minutes? Now there's a company that refuses to compromise its integrity.



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