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Not something new, while looking for a full time developer position I am dealing with a huge number of rejections because of aiming too high (probably) and the lack of clear goals (learned this because of passing the technical tests and failing in all the interviews).

Even with this, I got a few replies, (passed) technical tests and (failed all) interviews. Which made me think that the problem might not be that I am aiming too high in all of these opportunities. I get ignored all the time when I ask about the reasons (given that I am just curious and trying to understand what I am doing wrong).

Question

Can I put a line in my resume "Please tell the reason of the rejection"?

Otherwise, where can I ask it to ensure that the recruiters are going to see it?

Note:

I apply all the time to remote positions, it goes like (in the best case): application => technical test => interview => rejection

edit:

As you may have noticed, reading the titles (at least) my question is not close enough to be considered a potential duplicate. The mentioned potential duplicate reads : Is it typical that applicants are not notified when their application is rejected? looking for potential reasons and whether it's normal in north america, while I am asking about literally adding a line in my resume (which I learned is very wrong) or asking for advises on how to get more chance on them telling me how can I improve and be up to the competition. As a side note I learned a lot, I read carefully every answer and comment and this certainly is going to improve all my future applications.

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    Side note, if the number of applicants is high (which I imagine it would be for positions allowing remote work), many times the technical tests are not to test if you are skilled enough for the job, but just to test if you are even skilled enough for the interview. – user3067860 Apr 4 at 13:55
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    That's totally fair and reasonable to want - its just that 9/10 or more people just aren't going to want to give you that feedback, as unfortunate as that is. – BrianH Apr 4 at 15:00
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    I've been in a similar situation where I felt the interview actually went well, but I was rejected and I e-mailed the recruiting asking what happened. As long as you keep it professional and worded in a way that you want to know to improve for future interviews, some recruiters will provide the reason. In my case, I was applying for an entry level IT support position with a major power company and the candidates they choose had more experience in the field. I also received valuable feedback from the interview as the recruiter sat in on interview and mentioned some issues with my approach. – Steve-o169 Apr 4 at 15:14
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    In general, asking about whether or not you will be hired during the interview is a huge red flag to the interviewer. You never want to ask this kind of question until after the process is completely finished. – Zibbobz Apr 4 at 17:29
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    @toto that's a nice idea in theory, but in practice, anything the selectors might tell you is potentially evidence to start an action for discrimination, if you hire a lawyer who is creative enough. Therefore, unless they are stupid or naïve, they won't tell you anything. What they tell you could also be used by someone else as evidence of discrimination, if you share it (knowingly or unknowingly) with another applicant. So the selectors just won't go there. – alephzero Apr 4 at 17:43

11 Answers 11

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Well, you can certainly ask for the reason behind rejection, however whether you are going to get a response or not, depends.

Sadly, many cases, after having a negative result, recruiters choose to cease communication. Very few number of cases actually end up providing a reason or feedback. To be clear, this has nothing to do with the nature of the work (remote or in-house or a combination thereof), it's just the policies and preferences.

However,

Can I put a line in my resume "Please tell the reason of the rejection"?

NO. Do not put that request in your resume, that's not the the place for making request.

Otherwise, Where can I ask it to ensure that the recruiters are going to see it?

You can have a follow-up email after the interview process, asking for feedback, but that should never be part of your resume.

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    Good points but also putting that in your resume is already giving them red flags about potentially hiring you. – Dan Apr 4 at 14:37
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    Yeah, putting it in says that you actually expect to be rejected (aka makes you look like you yourself don't see you fit for that job) – Hobbamok Apr 4 at 15:54
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    Exactly. Putting that in the resume says "many people decided not to hire me but won't tell me why". Not exactly the first impression you want to make, or even a situation you want to make the recruiter aware of at all. – Alexandre Aubrey Apr 4 at 16:46
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    Unfortunately, it is also legally safe not to provide too much, if any, details on why a candidate was rejected. Any information provided can be used in a law suit against the company, if the rejected candidate feels mistreated. – Tero Lahtinen Apr 5 at 11:21
  • Combining with Tero Lahtinen's comment, it's also just more work with no benefit. The best case is that you spend some time explaining why you rejected and you probably never hear from them again. Much more likely, it either creates bad blood or it opens the door to the person trying to argue why you're wrong in your assessment. The latter either wastes even more time or is ignored leading to bad blood. – Derek Elkins Apr 5 at 11:59
27

The problem with asking for rejection reasons is that it is very difficult to get interviewers to reveal their true reasons for rejection. They often don't really know themselves why one applicant made a better impression on them than the other.

If they do know why they made the decision, they might often be reluctant to reveal it. This is because it might open up the company to legal attacks. When the rejected applicant is planning a discrimination lawsuit, they really don't want to give them potential ammunition. Even if the stated reason is non-discriminatory, a smart lawyer might still use that statement against them by claiming something like: "This reason is obviously ridiculous, they don't want to admit that they rejected my client because she is [minority]". So if the interviewers ask their own legal department about whether or not they can give the reason, they will likely receive advise like: "We are not legally obligated to give a reason and everything you say can be used against us, so we recommend you to shut up". Or alternatively: "I am afraid we have to state a reason, so here is our list of lawyer-approved rejection reasons which are serious enough to hold up in court but can neither be proven nor disproven to be correct. Just pick one at random".

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    Minor nitpick, but a lawyer will never tell you to pick a reason at random. Some might give you a list of boilerplate reasons and tell you to pick the best fit... but most lawyers, given that they bill by the hour, or justify their salaries by the hour, prefer to translate your reasoning into legalese themselves, and spit back a legally sound justification you can use for each individual case. And if you do that, your boss or the accountants are going to tell you stop wasting money on getting legal to sign off on rejection reasons, and just shut up/not give a reason. – HopelessN00b Apr 5 at 1:51
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    The times that I have asked, I got a very precise answer: "you were ranked second, you scored full marks at skills x and y and nearly full marks at skill z, but another candidate scored full marks at x, y, and z, and accepted the position*. Why would that seem difficult? Is it unusual to rank candidates based on objective criteria? See also workplace.stackexchange.com/q/118414/1898 – gerrit Apr 5 at 7:25
  • Couldn't it come with a (legal) disclaimer? – Peter Mortensen Apr 5 at 7:46
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    Being in the interviewer role from time to time, I would love to tell applicants why we rejected them, but HR would rip my head off if I did. (We are not even allowed to tell applicants that they have been rejected until the complete hiring process is finished and the selected candidate has started work.) – Dubu Apr 5 at 8:01
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    @Dubu: Not being allowed to tell candidates they are rejected until the selected candidate starts makes total sense. Because the selected candidate might not accept the offer, and then you want to be able to make an offer to candidate #2 or #3. – gnasher729 Apr 7 at 21:51
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If you're at the technical test/interview stage then you must be in communication with the recruiter (whether by email or telephone or some other means). That's the best channel to ask this question, and the best time is after you have received a rejection. Simply send the recruiter a polite request, something like:

Hi, thank you for your assistance during my application. In order to help me to ensure I'm applying for the right roles and to improve my overall application technique, could I possibly ask for some feedback as to why my application was rejected?

They may or may not be able to get you this kind of feedback - this partially depends on the employer being willing to provide it and partially on how much effort the recruiter wants to spend on an unsuccessful candidate.

Asking the question up front as part of your resume, as you suggest, would come across as very defeatist. It would make it seem like you are already assuming you are going to be rejected, which will make them question why.

  • Also, company policies might prevent them to give feedbacks. – Anish Sheela Apr 4 at 11:03
  • This is the only option - you ask after the fact. 9 times out of 10 your request will be ignored. There's nothing you can do about that. Unfortunately neither of those facts can be changed - sometimes reality sucks. – Conor Mancone Apr 4 at 12:29
  • Even though all other Answers are very informative, This one answers both of my questions (DON'T put in resume && try to communicate this during test or interview). I hope it's okay to ask it during interview or test. – josi513 Apr 4 at 14:31
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    @josi513 "hope it's ok... during..." no, don't ask then either. ONLY ask AFTER a rejection. If you're IN the interview, you haven't been rejected yet, and asking would set you up for failure. – user87779 Apr 4 at 15:13
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    @josi513 If you even consider asking that during an interview, your certainly should improve your interview skills. Maybe look for some application training? – Dubu Apr 5 at 7:58
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As others have touched on in different answers - don't put it in your CV - doing so send the impression that you expect to be rejected, in which case the recruiter can infer that you probably aren't qualified if you're not even confident in yourself.

You are welcome to ask afterwards but the employer has no obligation to reply, especially as it could have legal ramifications.

I would try to increase response rate by phrasing it this way:

Thank you for your time, I'm sorry to hear I was not successful. Could you offer me any advice which could help me in future interviews?

It's not brash or demanding but it allows them to say things like "you could avoid doing x" in a general way (without stating it as their reason for rejecting you)

  • the employer has no obligation to reply, are you sure? Is this not a subject access request? – gerrit Apr 5 at 7:27
  • I'm not an expert, but my understanding of the GDPR ruling is they have to reply with written information they retain - so if they keep a scoring sheet you might get that. But if they just discuss your performance after and only record accept/reject then you still wouldn't get anything (I am not sure what they are required to retain from interviews either) – Nick Cardoso Apr 5 at 11:41
  • I agree with Nick. However, the person who answers that question will usually end up having to be yourself. Focus on that part of the process. – Eric Hirst Apr 5 at 22:30
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I feel that putting that on your resume invites rejection.

What you are basically saying is:

When I get rejected, can you let me know the reasons?

Instead, a follow-up email after the interview (after the rejection) asking for feedback will give you an answer of

As I've been rejected, can you let me know the reasons?

To answer your question, no, I would not add that to my resume.

It does feel you need a strategic change. Ensure you follow this simple guide:

  • Apply for the job and not for jobs - Ensure you change your resume to target that specific job, don't make your resume and CV too broad. You can for example create 2/3 templates for specific positions and make things that you can change in each if you want to save time and increase the numbers of places you are applying for.

  • Prepare for the interview - It seems like you are lacking in this area. Read interview preparation guides and try different things. If you find a specific company you REALLY want to work for, make sure you go for interviews with other places so you can try different interview techniques, that way you can use what you feel better suits you when applying for the company.

  • Follow-up email - make sure you are able to grab a business card or the email of the person you interviewed with (when possible), send them an email the following day mentioning something you liked about the interview and what you have done to research about when you got home. Mention you are looking forward to working with them.

  • Follow-up email - if you are rejected, follow up with an email asking for some feedback.

  • Move on or move in - you either look for something else or you got the job. There are too many jobs out there for you to feel like it is all your fault.

Just learn the game and play it...that's what the interview world is like...

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    > putting that on your resume invites rejection Exactly. If I saw this I'd come to the conclusion that you are being rejected by a lot of other companies, and then I'd start to wonder why... – RJFalconer Apr 4 at 12:25
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Definitely word things nicely over email if you choose to go that route, as Nick Cardoso's reply focused on how to increase response rates. And many others mentioned not to put this information on your resume.

Rejection Woes

From your post it seems you have applied to several jobs and are feeling the sting of those rejections. To add to that sting, it feels often like being ghosted because they don't really say anything after that. They offer you no clue on how to improve.

I think one thing that I have to mention because often I see people discouraged after not getting jobs. Companies don't always skip over hiring you because you are the wrong candidate. Just like dating there are a ton of reasons outside of you that could lead to potential rejection.

Have a little empathy for company employees as you will have a better understanding of how to approach these situations. As mentioned by fireshark don't make people wonder why you are being rejected. In fact, your resume should ooze with "Why haven't we hired this guy yet?" Even if you don't fit the position they should want to work with you because of what you bring to the table.

Future Interviews

Get the contact information of everyone you interview with. Get their email and preferably phone number. Say something similar to:

I may have additional questions. Do you have a business card?

If they don't have a business card or number isn't on it:

That's fine. What's your number?

You really want the phone number because most people are not going to say negative things in writing. There is a large fear in hiring that someone is going to get sued. Real or imagined that's just been my experience. Very few want to say negative things about others so they have a disinterest on taking the energy to call or email you back. You're going to have to use your energy to get them to talk.

Follow Up

When you call mention your full name and meeting with them. Disarm them by saying how much you appreciated the opportunity to apply. Then explain how you understand you weren't hired and that you were really hoping to understand what you could work on to improve for that position.

Make sure to allow for awkward silence. You don't have to reply as soon as the person is uncomfortable and wait for their response.

Then before the call ends follow up with how you liked them as an interviewer and would like to work with people like them. Mention you'll send them an email in case they think of anything else you could improve.

The email is just a thank you and if another job opening comes up they'll be more likely to call you now out of respect.

Bonus points if you ask them about other similar companies on the call or in the email.

TLDR

  • Resume is not the place to discuss rejection
  • Get interviewers contact information
  • Call them and ask how you can improve
  • Thank them and give them an easy way to contact you in the future

Side note: Add anyone you meet and talk to on LinkedIn. It's a gold mine for jobs and for future employers to watch as you improve.

  • 1
    Looks like some serious first-hand experience, duh. Welcome to the site :) – kubanczyk Apr 4 at 23:41
  • Thanks! Stackoverflow has those side stackexchange questions and I always end up being distracted by one, haha. Definitely firsthand, plus I help people write resumes all the time. I get to hear their rejection woes. – JGood Apr 5 at 3:28
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Not answering your question, but the actual problem you have. Have some job application consultant. They can have a test interview and tell you, what they think. They know how recruiters works (it's not that difficult once done oneself). Based on this, they can help you train interviews and what answers you should give. Maybe they can show your strengths or advise to apply for different types of jobs.

I think they are not cheap, but investing half a month of a later wage might be worth it.

1

No. Don't put that on your resume.

The best way I have found to receive the feedback you're looking for is to ask what you can work on to strengthen your resume/candidacy for future opportunities. Reach out over the phone or email, however you receive notification of rejection.

0

You could ask.

Problem is that there is nothing obligating the employer to justify their rejection, so they can choose not to. There are also some very good reasons to refuse, such as:

  • If they just casually say why they rejected you, you could somehow claim it was discriminatory and get them in trouble.
  • If they carefully phrased everything to be absolutely non-discriminatory and safe, they would be wasting valuable company time and expertise on something that isn't their job.
  • They might have company policy forbidding them from saying.
  • There might not be a reason. It may have come down to a very close call and you may have been rejected on a hunch or instinct.
  • They might not be aware of the reason (subconscious bias).
  • The reason might be illegal.

Even if they felt obligated to justify their decision, there's nothing stopping them from lying. If they say "we didn't hire you because you don't know X", that's not the same as "we promise that if you learn X and come back we will hire". In fact there is no recourse at all, which means whatever reason they give can never be proven wrong. So the justification is unlikely to be useful to you. In practice, I suspect you will get a form letter to the effect of "You were a great candidate but it was very competitive and we felt you were not the best fit. Good day!" which is both absolutely unassailable and absolutely useless.

The recruiter is a different story. It depends on the specifics of the arrangement, but the recruiter usually has an interest in getting you hired (for example they might be getting a commission) and an interest in not having you be rejected (if you are, that means they're wasting their time on you). So the recruiter should give you feedback on how to improve your application, or else refuse to spend much time on you. I wouldn't ask the recruiter why you were rejected, however. Many of the issues above may apply, and also the recruiter is not psychic so he cannot read that particular employer's mind. But you can ask more generally, such as:

Dear recruiter, lately I've been applying to positions of type X which I feel to be suitable for me as I have the critical qualifications A, B and C. However I am having less success than I expected. For example, I applied to posting D at company ACME (see the attached posting, resume and cover letter) but did not get hired. Could you give me some feedback on how I can increase my chances for this sort of position? Do you think my desired position is realistic given my background? Would you say I am a competitive candidate for this type of position? Are there positions that I should consider instead of X?

In reality, you would probably not ask all of that at once. Instead you would tell the recruiter you are not getting offers and you want feedback on becoming more competitive. Then over time you would build a rapport and gradually discuss the above details.

This assuming the "recruiter" is a third party whose job is to find qualified job seekers and connect them with employers seeking workers, and their income is basically from getting paid by position filled. If by recruiter you mean person from company X who gives you a brochure for company X and tells you to apply, that's pretty much the same situation as asking the interviewer - almost certainly pointless.

0

If you are asking after receiving a notice of rejection, and you are in a EU country or a country with similar rules to GDPR, you may have some luck phrasing your question as a subject access request. The employer or recruiter holds personal data on you, which may include information they have not shared with you, such as scoring sheets in case of a structured job interview. In this case, you may have the legal right to access this information.

This won't help you if they select a candidate based entirely on a subjective impression, in which case they may not store any more data than "applied, passed technical test, interviewed, no offer".

0

It certainly can be more challenging to find out about a remote employer but you certainly don't want to do a week or months worth of work and wonder if you'll be paid. You definitely want to ask some questions before you send your resume, certainly for privacy sake, you want your resume to go to someone whom might hire you and not to a database that simply collects information.

Not something new, while looking for a full time developer position I am dealing with a huge number of rejections because of aiming too high ...

Research your targets and write a cover letter explaining why you are particularly suitable for the position, say: IF they are interested you can send your resume.

No reply, no resume, no further contact, forget them.

If they reply then you have the opportunity to grill them for some valuable information before you'll send your resume. Know whom you are speaking with and have a few conversations.

If you "just gotta send your resume, we'll call you!" then very politely explain that "you have other calls to return and that you won't take any more of their time".

Remember their first goal: Get your resume and get you in or get rid of you. If you want their computer or someone whom spends 30 seconds on your resume to put you in the trash or treasure pile then do it their way.

If you want answers, to be convinced that time spent with them won't be time wasted then politely explain that you need some more information. Ask for an "Information Interview" that neither involves you sending your resume nor them offering you the job, it involves you interviewing them - they probably will want to know a bit about you, why should they spend their time, but they'll be short of the tool they require to make the decision and you'll have most of the information you need - or just move on.

I get ignored all the time when I ask about the reasons (given that I am just curious and trying to understand what I am doing wrong).

The only chance you have is if they aren't busy, they like to chat, and they are willing to say why you were rejected, and possibly argue with you about whether their decision was correct.

If maybe they might hire you in the immediate future they might feel the need to address your concerns and not brush you off - maybe.

Personal experience:

I've called after an appropriate time and inquired if they had any questions and got the pre-rolled response that they would call me if they did. Then a few days later a frantic call that they were very interested and that I should call back at my earliest convenience. I waited a few days and asked for the person but they were unavailable so I simply left a message.

I explained that I had called a few days earlier to inquire about the position and was brushed off, that I was using the information to schedule interviews and to determine if I should leave an open slot for anyone - I took their response as a "no" and now there's an important change of circumstances.

I explained that I wasn't prepared to cancel anyone whom expressed interest for someone whom was initially uncertain and that I am not available.

A few weeks later I got a rejection letter and several months later they got bought out in a hostile takeover and everyone was terminated. The product they made was shelved since it competed with the product being made by the company that bought them out.

So, lucky me.

Question: Can I put a line in my resume "Please tell the reason of the rejection"?

It's not good practice, there not exactly a space for such a comment and it's odd to see that on a resume. It's certainly a stand out feature or a flag. You can stick it right below your name and phone number / email address - they won't miss it.

It might be cause for manually rejecting your resume when there are a dozen other seemingly equal resumes with no such oddity (or expectation that you'll want them to do additional work after they already have what they want).

Otherwise, where can I ask it to ensure that the recruiters are going to see it?

When going through a recruiter they should be local to you and you should visit them, get to know them a bit and put a face and personality on your resume. This person will be the source of dozens, hundreds, (or no) jobs in the near future - best to check them out, and their office. It can only hurt if you know you stink in interviews, then that's certainly where you'll want to improve as otherwise you'll continue to fail near the last steps of your journey.

Note: I apply all the time to remote positions, it goes like (in the best case): application => technical test => interview => rejection.

Choose carefully, interview them after doing your research. Impress them with your interest in both the company and they type of work you are interested in doing. Video chat and see if you get along before you send a resume. If it's just a resume dump into their database and a cookie cutter interview you be working with a bunch of doughmen - just do this, just do that, we'll let you know. Make certain that they are invested too.

If you are an independent contractor take a bit of control over your own company, and remember to smile and be polite when you speak to the customers - the recruiter and to whom they send you. That doesn't mean that you want to show all your cards so they can decide to raise or fold and cut their losses while maximizing your loss.

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