rejection.jpgOh the dreaded rejection letter.

Many of us have gotten one or two or ten during our careers. They are typically polite and encouraging. Something along the lines of, “you were an outstanding candidate but we decided to hire someone who had more direct experience..” Yada, yada, yada.

The letters often sound canned. There’s a good reason for that. They are!

Sorry folks, most hiring managers don’t take time to write you a personalized rejection letter or email. The last thing they want to be doing is telling you you didn’t get the gig, so they want to make the process as easy as possible for them.

A recent HR faux pas at Twitter proves my point.

The social networking site recently had an opening for a product manager and after they ended up hiring an individual they sent out a mass email to all the candidates that didn’t make the cut, about 185 of them. Unfortunately, the email included the names and emails of all the people that were rejected, a major privacy no no and a slap in the face of all the applicants who thought they were special.

This is what the email said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to apply for the Business
Product Manager position at Twitter, Inc. During the course of our
recruiting efforts, we come across many fine candidates such as you,
and we carefully evaluate each candidate’s background and interests
against our projected workloads and staffing needs. Although we are
impressed with your background, the hiring committee has decided to
move forward with a different candidate.

We will keep your information on file for six months in case future
opportunities arise.

Turns out, none of the applicants were that special. And, if I had to guess, Twitter is probably not even keeping “your information on file,” at least not an active file.

This isn’t just a Twitter thing people, this is how the process works. It sucks seeing the sausage made, I know.

This is frustrating for so many of you out there. The one thing you want to know, the one thing that can help in your future job search is if these HR goobers would just tell you why you weren’t chosen.

Was it your sloppy resume? Did you have an offensive smell? Did someone in your industry dog you to the hiring manager?

I get lots of emails from readers asking me if it’s cool for them to call or email a manager to find out why they didn’t rate.

On Monday, Melinda asked:

Is it ever OK to contact the hiring manager to find out why I wasn’t chosen for a job? If this is permissible, I would like advice on how to word it. Thank you for your assistance.

It’s permissible, but good luck getting a hiring manager or HR professional to give you any information.

I’ve talked to a few hiring managers about this, and basically the answer isn’t clear cut.

If you were applying for a job at a company you already work for, then it’s definitely acceptable to go to that hiring manager and get feedback.

When it comes to outside candidates, however, HR folks are taught not to say too much about a particular hiring decision and many won’t even respond to such a request, and some will even be annoyed by it.

“Managers are schooled so much in what they write and say to applicants that they are less likely to respond if asked,” one of my HR buddies told me.

That said, if you developed a good relationship with a hiring manager over a few weeks of interviews, phone calls and emails, it may be something you can pursue.

In that case send a short email and be polite. Something like: “I know how busy you are, but if you have a moment I was hoping to get some feedback as to why I wasn’t chosen as a way to help my professional development. If not, no problem. Thanks so much for the opportunity to meet you and to get to know your company.”

Many of you don’t really know how to go about asking for feedback; and who the heck wants to really hear negative information anyway.

David Sanford, executive vice president, Client Services and managing partner of Human Resources Division at staffing firm Winter, Wyman, offers these tips:

1. Feedback is your friend. It’s hard to ask for an honest and objective review of your interview performance – especially from someone you may have only met once. But in order to do better the next time, you need to know if there are areas you need to improve. Ask the people who interviewed you for direct and honest feedback. Because it’s human nature to want to spare someone’s feelings, your interviewer may not want to share anything but generalities, especially if they think your reason for asking is to challenge their opinion or ask for a second opportunity. Realize and respect that their decision has been made and make sure they know you are seeking feedback for improvement purposes only.

2. Don’t get defensive. If you hear something you disagree with from your feedback conversation, do not get defensive and confrontational. Thank the interviewer for their time, make note of their comments and discuss them with a spouse or trusted colleague or friend to see if there is any merit. When we expose ourselves to the opinion of others and disagree with their assessment, it’s common to feel angry, bitter or defensive. Overcome these emotions and concentrate on the learning aspect of this opportunity.

3. Do something with bad feedback. No one wants to hear that their portfolio looked sloppy; they were perceived as stressed, hesitant or scattered; or their technology skills were out-of-date. But just think how each of these points can be corrected – if you know about them! When bad feedback is revealed, be prepared to put a plan in place to fix the holes in your game. Spend more time and care putting together a targeted portfolio, arrive at your interview early so you have time to relax and gather your thoughts so you don’t appear stressed, or take some refresher courses on the latest software advances in your field. Put your friends and family on your personal advisory team and bounce ideas off them for improving yourself.

Bottom line, don’t hold your breath that you’ll get a lot from hiring managers after you’re rejected, especially in this economy. These folks are inundated with resumes and they’re under the gun because of cutbacks at most companies. The last thing they want to be dealing with is an upset job seeker.

You better believe there were a lot of Twitter rejects that were seething.

The Twitter mass reject email prompted the CEO, Evan Williams, to send out another mass email to the poor souls:

It has just been brought to my attention that we just sent this note about this job with everyone’s address exposed in the cc line.

This is obviously a big mistake, and I sincerely apologize on behalf of Krissy, myself, and Twitter, Inc. We really appreciate you expressing interest in Twitter, and I can only imagine that this type of move adds insult to injury.

To be clear: Not everyone on this list even applied for this job. Some were recommended to us and entered into our applicant tracking system by employees here.

Whatever the case, I regret this mistake. Please help us reduce the impact of this error by respecting each other’s privacy.

If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Yeah, let everyone know exactly why they didn’t get the gig.

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