The rejection letter… a children’s story

Sit down, boys and girls, and let me tell you a story. It’s about someone you know, or at least someone like someone you know. Let’s call him “Our Hero.” “Superman” is already taken. He lives in the big city. He likes cookies. He dresses in grownup clothes. He rides the subway. He sits at a desk. And he works… for now.

His job is freelance. Many mommies and daddies have jobs like this. If he works, he gets paid. If he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid. The job doesn’t come with health insurance, which is what he needs to see a doctor when his tummy hurts. And it doesn’t come with a 401K, which makes him think he won’t have to work when he’s old. A freelance job, and the paycheck, can go away at any time. Our Hero wants a full-time job instead. But he likes money and needs more of it now. So he works. And he works. And he works.

One day he’s sitting at his smaaaaall desk in a BIIIIIIIIIG office when his computer makes a noise. “PLUNK!” He has a new email. It’s from someone he doesn’t know. The sender works in the Human Resources department at a company he’s heard of. His mommy always told him to never talk to strangers. Taking candy is fine. Email is okay too, because people who email can be trusted. The sender found Our Hero’s resume on LinkedIn. She wants to hire someone like him. The job is full-time. She sends him a description.

The job is perfect for him. He has every skill the company wants, and some more that they need. He even had the same title at his last full-time job. And that company was just like this company. Ms. HR thinks Our Hero could be a good fit. She wants to talk. They arrange to meet. He’s happy.

The first round of interviews goes well. He meets Ms. HR in person. She is a nice lady with brown hair and a big smile. They get along well. He also meets the person who would be his boss. She is also a nice lady. She is younger than Our Hero, and very smart. They also get along well.

The second round of interviews goes well too. He gets to meet the two men who run the company. They ask lots of good questions. They are very interested in what Our Hero has to say. He asks lots of questions too. He is very interested in what they have to say. The meetings go well.

Ms. HR says that she will call next week. Our Hero has a good feeling. This could be the one. This could be his next job. He tries not to get excited. He thinks about other things, poopy things, such as bills and Republicans. This makes him sad, and then angry. He waits for his phone to ring. What sound does the phone make? No not, “Ring-a-ding ding-y-dong, ring-a-dong ding ding dong.” Our Hero’s phone goes “Bzzzzzz, Bzzzzzz,” like a bumblebee with hiccups. It’s set on vibrate.

Ms. HR doesn’t call, and doesn’t call some more. Our Hero calls her and leaves a message. She doesn’t call back, and doesn’t call back some more. He calls her again a week later and leaves another message. Nothing. Our Hero gives up. He’s sad. The biggest cookie in the WHOOOOOOLE world couldn’t make him happy again.

He calls one last time a week later. “Three is a charm,” his mommy always says. He receives an email later that day. What sound does his computer make? That’s right, “PLUNK!” It’s from Ms. HR. This is what it says…

Dear Nrom,

Thank you for your interest in the XXXXX XXXXX position at XXXXX Company.

Although your experience and accomplishments are excellent, we filled the position with another candidate whose experience and background seemed better matched to our current needs. We invite you to visit our website for continued employment opportunities.

Your interest in XXXXX Company is appreciated. We wish you success in your job search.


Ms. HR

Our Hero calls his mommy to make sure he’s been spelling his name right all these years. He has. Our Hero tells himself not to take it personally. He does.

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  1. Liz wrote:

    Is it wrong of me to be envious that you got as far as an interview? Still, sorry about the rejection letter. Perhaps worse to get your hopes up?

    Monday, November 29, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  2. Joanne wrote:

    I once was sent someone else’s rejection letter. I can only assume they received my rejection letter as well.

    Monday, November 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  3. Underemployed wrote:

    Oh Norm…. you are SO not alone. I went on an interview today for a vague job I found on Craigs list. Get this….they hired me BUT i dont have a salary or a title or a job description! WTH???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Needless to say I am terrified and depressed. I really want to open up my own business but need 75k to invest. This would make me happy. Any ideas besides lotto? Hang in there….. we are in this together.

    Monday, November 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink
  4. Underemployed wrote:

    I am wondering if this blog is hindering your job prospects. It is a well known fact that employers “google” prospective candidates to see what is out there in cyberland…. a few months back, i sat for a week on a massive campaign to have everything out there deleted or removed…. mainly those sites that state your name, location and AGE especially since I look a lot younger than i am…your thoughts???

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink
  5. Norm wrote:

    I go back and forth on whether the site is helping or hurting my job prospects. But I work in online marketing, and the site shows some of what I can do. So I figure the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about erasing yourself from the Web completely. Just remove anything incriminating. Or better still, don’t let anything incriminating go up in the first place.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  6. Underemployed wrote:

    @Norm – HA! I have never had my real name linked to any social networking website FORGET incriminating things…I did it mostly because of those website that post all your personal information, age etc. I dont exist in cyberland which is exactly how I want it. Thanks so much for your candid remark regarding your site…I have often wondered that. Of course, I would want yo to stay… its been a long ass road for the both of us;) Please keep us posted.

    Your fan.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink
  7. Tina wrote:

    NORM! You did it again! Hit the nail on the head with humor and truth that let me laugh off the frustrations of my own situation!

    @Underemployed: Why accept a position without knowing salary or benefits? “Exit Only” is the sign on that company door. Honestly, I had an interview that started with a CraigsList ad, and the CEO wanted me to submit a full business plan to consider before he would decide if I was a “worthy candidate”. DB. I should have requested he pay for an offsite SWAT analysis! Don’t let desperation get the better of your common sense.

    Liz: We all root for each other and know how rare those “good” interviews are these days. I’m just so glad Norm shares “The Lighter Side”…great cartoon, eh???!!!

    This too shall pass. I keep saying that because I believe it. I’m glad you’ve kept the blog running Norm. It’s a safe place to laugh at the hard times we’re all getting through, one day at a time.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink
  8. Tina wrote:

    Oh, and JoAnne, I bet the other person did receive your rejection letter! That would be a funny blog post!

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Permalink
  9. Underemployed wrote:

    @Tina – Because I am desperate and pretty much tired of the online applying, those applications take 45 min each only to get a automated rejection letter 5 minutes later… because I am tired of submitting 50 resumes a day and not hearing back…because I am tired of talking to HR people, head hunters and recruiters who tell me that they will get back to me and dont….because I am tired of getting scammed by this career coach that was recommend to me by an esteemed colleage and has done NOTHING but offered me the obvious solutions…but continues to want to charge me…because I am tired. Here is two days later and I have NOT heard back. I dont know whether to contact them directly sinceI dont want to seem “desperate”…

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  10. NormFan wrote:

    Reporting back…. called them and got my offer letteer… this “attractive compensation” comes at 35k. A far cry from my old real salary and the salary structure I have been prior to 2008. @tina – Most companines ask for a long landry list up to and including business plans…dont let THAT defer you. I am shocked at the long list of requirments and hoops one has to jump though to get a 50k job. Im so friggin depressed. Im really thinking of chucking it all…. two years and counting is too much torture for me to handle. Ill never understand how you do it Norm. Keep the blogs coming. You give me hope.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Permalink
  11. Tina wrote:

    @Underemployed: Please understand…I DO get it. Really, on target, dead center, I get it. I think at this point in the game many of us question what we thought our talents and abilities were/are…but at the end of the day, our gut knows a no-win situation before we get in it.
    @NormFan: Yes, interviews, when you can get them are more intense then ever. But I will NOT write up a business plan for a job prospect. I did give him a high-level process plan of how to achieve said plan…but that’s it. And it was solid. If he didn’t like the “process” I could understand that, but he didn’t like the fact that I didn’t draw him a DETAILED map to immediate improved profits. And no, he didn’t hire me…he wanted more. I suggested a contract position, no benefits, he still wanted the plan on his desk. Um…that’s bulls**t. I don’t want to work for a company that operates like that. AND, six months later, he’s still looking to fill that position. Wonder why?

    It’s like shooting fish in a bowl now for employers, and believe me, I’m struggling with immediate bills just like everyone else. Right now I’m weighing the options of using my savings account that I pay my mortgage with to pay for a root canal, or just have the molar pulled. No insurance eats at all of our wallets everyday. Let me correct that…I pay for “catastrophic insurance” for me and my two kids, God forbid, but for everyday stuff…it’s a decision between house and health. I know I’m not alone on that.

    This too shall pass. It will. And I look forward – to looking back – and breathing a sigh of relief.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink
  12. Underemployed wrote:

    @Tina – Thanks so much. I replied with NormFan because for some reason, the system would not let me reply…I dont know what to do at this point. Ive had two years of unemployment filled with 6 mos of stupid jobs just to get me by…my last job was part time at 35k and trust me I was very grateful. But they are hurting (or so they say) and eliminated my position and split the responsibilities between 3 other overworked and underpaid employees. I was hysterical last night when they contacted me about this job. Truth is this is the first solid lead in months…I dont know what to do. I feel very insecure with my skills (I couldnt change the spacing in my resume earlier this week)…Im afraid Ive turned into some kind of freak since I am home all day trying to find a job. I do my job affirmations, hired a coach and done everything humanly possibly. Ive sent out about 200 resumes and nothing. It mostly stupid rejection letters. I am white, bilingual, degreed, professional and attractive by societys standards and nothing. Im done with the in between jobs, the part time jobs, etc. So not sure if I should take this one. Its sketchy through and through and Ill work there for one month, they expect miracles and ill lose that one to and have my soul damaged further. I appreciate your thoughts. Im so alone on this one…I dont have family and I am single and really have no where else to turn for advice.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  13. Unemployed wrote:

    After 24 months of unemployment, I have essentially left my field. Since graduating from college in 1998, I have experienced two layoffs, one phaseout and one resignation to avoid layoff… so I’m in a similar situation as Norm. In these last two years, I’ve had ONE interview which did result in a job offer of $9/hr, 14 hr/wk. (It should have paid $12-15/hr, so I declined.)

    The NYTimes just posted an article about long-term unemployment: “The New Poor: Unemployed and Likely to Stay That Way.” Thanks for all you do, Norm. Keep your chin up.

    Friday, December 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
  14. Baltimore Ann wrote:

    Norm, I got pretty much the same letter from a company I interviewed with this week.

    One of the guys who interviewed me said I was “probably overqualified” for the job, but still seemed positive towards me. (After all, that just puts me in the same boat with most job seekers these days.)

    But I guess they decided to hire someone who was underqualified — or totally inexperienced.

    Well, at least they spelled my name right.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  15. Tina wrote:

    Dear Unemployed: I clicked on your link, read the first few lines and closed out. I refuse to believe that. Of course, I may be a slow learner, but that’s ME they’re talking about in that article. So, NO. And in five years there will be reports about people like ME, who somehow, against all odds….made it. I just can’t imagine another outcome.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Permalink
  16. Underemployed wrote:

    I cant decide what is worse… being underemployed at a job paying 35k when the salary should be 55k or more) or unemployed. Ive know done both. Working while continuing the job search can be awfully tricky when scheduling telephone screenings, interviews, second interviews, followup interviews etc. I had a part time pos job I started in January. It was a mediocre, entry level position but hey it paid some of my bills (paid other bills every OTHER month). I was there until September. Never late, never missed a day (sans jury duty and was released the same day and still went back to the office at 3p). One day, I got a phonecall to interview for a stellar position on a Tuesday. Called in sick. I have 3.5 days accum sick time. I was laid off that Friday and didnt get the other job. Coincidence? Not idea. just turned down a Sales Manager position with direct reports and extensive travling with 1000 requirements paying 35k. Its disgusting AND they are showing double digit growth. SO So Underemployed or unemployed? (thanks for sharing that ny times article)!

    Monday, December 6, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  17. Underemployed wrote:

    Im trying this too…. feel free to put up any helpful links:)

    Monday, December 6, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink
  18. Underemployed wrote:

    I just purchased the NEW resume guide. Let me tell you, I thought I had a great resume but I have some gaps, short term employment etc. What I am doing is not working. The guide was $ 40. If someone is willing to split it with me, I will email you the 300 page guide with templates. All this stuff is new for this new world we have entered…. if you are interested, here is the guide.

    I bought it and am willing to split the cost – paypal.

    email me at

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  19. Man, I just knew you would have a gig by now but I guess not. It’s amazing to me to see all the talent that’s out there looking for employment. You’re good so you shouldn’t despair.

    I haven’t read you in awhile and it ain’t cause I’m working but more cause I’ve got the time and I just want to work on some things and let the rest hang.

    Don’t even know why I’m writing this except for the fact that stumbling across you reminds me of running into someone on the platform that you partied with years ago,

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink
  20. Emily wrote:

    Hi Norm, your fairy tale retelling is so funny and sad…

    Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  21. Pat wrote:

    Hi. Thank you. Your post rang a very familiar bell with me. After 2-1/2 months, two face-to-face in-depth interviews, good reference checks, the hiring manager suddenly gets “cold feet” for whatever reason and cancels the posting altogether. I feel as though my insides got ripped out.

    Monday, December 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink
  22. underemployed wrote:

    A month… Please blog…. just sayin.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink
  23. I know this hero very well I feel like him sometimes. I quit looking for work and started my own site to help people find work. The best part it has Free Local Job Search so people don’t have to pay to look for jobs and they can also apply right then and there.

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink
  24. jobs wrote:

    Rejection is always a part of job application. That is absolutely inevitable. Yet, do not despair when it happens to you. It only means that there’s bigger opportunity for you in other companies.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  25. Thomas Wright wrote:


    To give the unemployed ways to earn income while job searching there is a comprehensive listing of opportunities for the unemployed to make money off their own “intellectual property” digital content. Whether they are writers, designers, photographers, programmers, animation specialist or if they have some special talent mixing media utilizing digital content. Or if they have a special project they wish to pursue. You don’t have to stop looking for work but in the interim can earn money until that perfect position comes along. Or if you want to migrate to entrepreneurship altogether or work on a special project.

    There are plenty of opportunities for the unemployed to start the year off creatively running towards achieving goals with extra income, startup or seed money. January’s opportunities alone should well place you to pursuing an excellent 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2011. But, don’t stop there. Opportunities are still knocking. The point is to keep opening up multiple revenue streams. Always good to be looking for work with recent successes under your belt.
    Sorry forgot to add the web address.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink
  26. Catherine wrote:

    I have been following your blog from the beginning. I have quit looking for traditional work, and work seasonally(scoring tests online) and also make money buying and selling many types of items. I am over 55, and do not have recent work experience….
    Perhaps you should just call yourself a consultant, and set up a sole proprietorship….the heck with those who do not want your talents!

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  27. Laid Off Republican wrote:

    I used to read your comments every day and they have been a comfort and amusment during my 21 mo. of unemployment without finding a job at even half the pay I used to make; or a job at even less pay than that which offers medical benefits and could be augmented with an even worse-paying part-time job just to keep my rent paid. I have not noticed that lay offs and downsizings have any political bias. As many Republicans are hurting and scared as anyone else. Your jabs in our direction are painful and cause you to lose (my) readership. The economies in the rest of the world are crumbling, too. Could it be that our global interconnectedness has become so cumbersome that more is to blame than the US political party that wants to protect our freedoms and edge us toward fiscal responsibility? Your man in the White House has further weakened the US, causing nervousness and therefore repercussions and increased fragility all over the globe. I don’t think I’d brag too much about being one of his followers. What’s needed is rational thinking by all US citizens. What you spend must be paid for. The world needs the US to be on solid ground.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 3:00 am | Permalink
  28. Jo smo wrote:

    Hiring managers are simply acting like little bitches and do not want to hire someone who has been out of work for a while. This has become a childlike mentality especially because the jobs I am talking about any idiot could do. The first thing these little hiring managers get negative on is if you have been out of work. I can only hope they get to taste their own medicine soon. And if you have some wise or snarky words to say f*ck off. I was making more money than most of them during the boom years and now because they have an inflated sense of self worth as opposed to their former feeling of not having made it during the good times they want to act like little gods and get overly analytical and judgmental for jobs that anyone could perform well. Again go to hell if you have something smart to say because I have sent out over a hundred resumes and filled out almost the same amount of applications only to be told by little nobody’s they are looking for a more qualified applicant.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  29. Katie wrote:

    Hi everyone – please read my blog post about how employers should respect potential employees more!!

    Friday, November 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
  30. rajbill wrote:

    once an interviewer said that they will call you. you failed in the interview .sometimes i dont stick in one company i applied different companies. try to check this site

    Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. JoblessandLess (Norm Elrod) on Monday, November 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Fun with #unemployment: The rejection letter…. #rejection,