How to Properly Handle Rejection

I don’t what it is about 2013, but I have experienced more bad candidate behavior this year than ever before, particularly in the area of handling rejection. The fact that it’s only February makes me look forward to and dread the rest of the year.

First, let’s review quickly what a recruiter is paid to do. Think of a recruiter as a company’s gatekeeper. It is her job to be skeptical, scrutinize candidates’ experience, and protect her company from the wrong hires. It is also her job to know her company inside and out and know exactly what kind of candidate profiles they hire from both skill set and cultural perspectives. And here’s another good assumption to make, recruiters know what they are doing. It’s our job.

Therefore, when a recruiter rejects a candidate, a recruiter is doing her job. As a candidate, it is important that you handle any rejection professionally because even if you are not the right fit for one role, you may be a fit in the future. Or, a recruiter may be willing to refer you to another recruiter that is seeking your skill set. Professional interactions with recruiters and anyone at a company are paramount for a successful job search.

So, the funny and really bad examples of what NOT to do when a recruiter rejects you as a candidate. These are direct quotes from emails I have received this year and all these candidates have been entered into my candidate database as a “Do Not Recruit.”

“Thank you Cassie and have a blessed week.” – First, leave anything religious out of your emails, blessings, biblical quotes, mentions of god, etc. Religion has no bearing in your job search ever. Leave it out!

“I have other resumes, but obviously you are too much of a bias brain and I pray that god changes the discriminatory mind set or removes you from the process that you are currently in and demote you to the role you deserve. God Bless You Mam! Sorry I interrupted your day.” – Reread above. Leave religion out of it! Second, name calling a recruiter is absolutely unprofessional. Candidates should also know that recruiters share information among each other. How many recruiters now know about this candidate’s unprofessional, and frankly, hilarious, email? It’s a lot.

“Did you look at the resume ? I’m not a trainer” – Finally, questioning a recruiter in this type of manner isn’t a good idea. Let’s think of this logically, shouldn’t this person think that I would have looked at his resume before rejecting him? How else would a recruiter know a candidate wasn’t a fit?

How a candidate handles rejection and writes an email are often key factors in hiring. If you as a candidate fly off the handle to me, why would I ever risk hiring you and putting your in front of my CIO clients?

About the author


Cassie Sturdevant

Cassie Sturdevant is a Senior Recruiter for Impact Advisors, a healthcare IT strategic and implementation services consulting firm just named 2013 Best in KLAS for Overall Services. She specializes in humor and follow up.


  • Great post, Cassie. I wish these candidate quotes surprised me, but they don’t. At least they are doing you a favor by vetting themselves right out of the process! I think my “favorite” response from a rejected candidate was from the “gentleman” who said, “Wait. Do you know who I am? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” I resisted the temptation to reply, “Yes, I do. YES, I DO!”

  • Agreed – great post, Cassie! Having done technical skill interviews, I am still amazed at how people think they are perfect for a position when they clearly aren’t….and then don’t take the rejection as a way to review their own skill set. And yes, I’ve had the “religious” commentary tossed my way – quickest way to end even attempting to get a foot in the door!

  • Thank you, Gwen and Doug! What you’ve both mentioned above is the funniest part about it. I always think, “Thank you for demonstrating your crazy now so that I can avoid hiring you now and in the future!”

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