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So after a couple of interview rounds with this company, the hiring manager sent me a rather standard rejection email saying that they found a candidate who is more suitable for the job.

The email didn't mention the possibility of applying again in the future, should other suitable positions become available. There are other companies that do include this sentence in their rejection emails (similar to this post).

Is this a sign that I shouldn't apply again (either to the company or to this specific team)?

Does it make sense to explicitly ask about this (like saying please keep me in mind and the like)? TBH, I didn't do it, out of disappointment I guess, but just checking if it would've been worth trying.


Edit: Thanks everyone for your feedback! I guess I got an indirect answer to my question, since I noticed the company advertized the exact same job, just a few days after the rejection. So, I guess I did raise some red flag and that they'd rather restart the process again than to select my application. I guess it's very unlikely that their "hypothetical" selected candidate turned the offer this quickly. In any case, lesson lerant. Thanks again for the provided tips!

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    It could be an automated email or some sort of template he's using from the legal department. Either way, I wouldn't be discouraged from (re)applying as they taken the time to follow up with you. I also feel they wouldn't tell you that you could (re)apply since it would be a "promise" that someone might take them to court over. – Dan Mar 11 at 14:43
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    It probably doesn't mean anything either way, no reason not to apply in the future – Pete W Mar 11 at 14:51
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    It does not mean anything either way. When there is an "invite to reapply" it is just a link to the careers site. It is just fluff – Layman Mar 11 at 15:05
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    No worry. That is a standard rejection. You can always apply for other positions at that company now or in the near future. However, if you want to apply for the exact same position with the exact same group/team at that company that they just reject you, then you may want to wait for about 6 months as that is usually a standard requirement after a company rejects a candidate. Nothing personal. – Job_September_2020 Mar 11 at 21:29
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    @employee-X If this was from a company where HR has to hand-craft every letter they send out, the OP should be glad they were rejected instead of getting hired by a bunch of guys still living in the 19th century. – alephzero Mar 12 at 2:39
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So after a couple of interview rounds with this company

Sounds like you were a decent choice if you lasted more than 1 round, you just got beaten at the end by someone they preferred more.

I'd say keep your eye on other positions at the company and apply if they come up. If you get an interview again, you know for sure.

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  • that seems to be a good way to find out. Thanks for sharing this! – anon Mar 11 at 14:27
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Companies using form letters generally don't keep two copies on hand of the same letter.

So, I wouldn't expect any company to have a "rejection - don't reapply" form and a "rejection - please reapply" form. Odds are the person who drafted the original letter just didn't put in the "reapply" wording; and, that decision (if it was even conscious) happened much earlier than your application.

Standard rules apply: most companies don't think it is odd to reapply after six months have passed.

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    The people you interviewed with likely have never even seen these form letters. They just close out the job posting in their applicant tracking software, and the server automatically sends out generic messages written years ago by someone in HR that knows nothing about you or your interview. Definitely do not try to read anything into the wording. Be thankful they bothered to notify you at all. – bta Mar 12 at 0:25
  • Counterpoint: in the 3rd party applicant tracking software I've used at my last 3 companies (tech industry) there is definitely a difference between the default (customizable) form letters for reject-for-later, reject-not-qualified, and others. – Cireo Mar 12 at 23:15
  • I also disagree out of personal experience about your first point. This might apply for big companies, but as a hiring manager in a startup I carefully added or skipped such a phrase. I still agree that it's worth trying to re-apply again. – suntoch Mar 14 at 16:43
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I wouldn't read into it.

If they have to send a whole bunch of rejection emails (and some managers don't even bother to), they are not going to sit there are personalise it for each candidate.

Even if this specific manager wishes that you would never ever apply again, that doesn't mean that a different manager looking for a different skillset won't give you a completely different outcome. So even if you could read into it, you shouldn't.

If you feel inclined to ask them to keep you in mind in the future, you should just send a final email thanking them for the opportunity, for informing you of the application outcome, and then ask them to keep you informed of opportunities in the future. Keep it short and to the point.

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  • @travelinguser What's done is done. They will have made their decision. If you know what the red flags would have been, then this is something you can improve for next time. Unless you've been told never to contact the company again, there is no harm in applying again in the future. – Gregory Currie Mar 11 at 14:22
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I'd suggest not reading into it - as others have said, this is probably a standard response.

What you could do is respond asking for feedback. As a hiring manager I give feedback to the recruiter on all candidates so that this can be passed on to help them in their future applications.

The request for feedback can be worded to show your continued enthusiasm for the company, along the lines of "The role really appealed to me and I'd be grateful for any feedback that would help me be a more suitable candidate should a similar role arise in the future".

This will show that you are interested in working there, interested in developing yourself further and will hopefully provide feedback which you can take on board to help in future.

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I wouldn't worry about it. Most companies have a form letter they use to reject candidates, as others have mentioned. They have to write something that can apply to everyone from genuinely unqualified applicants to people who were simply too expensive for the budget.

If you're in an industry that has a shortage of good people (e.g., software engineering), I really wouldn't worry about it. Any good recruitment team will have a system for keeping tabs on applicants who applied previously and did well.

They have every incentive to get in touch with you proactively if there's a new job that opens someone thinks you'd be great for. From the hiring side, it's way easier to revive that relationship than to start from a complete stop.

Speaking more personally, I'd be thrilled if a previous candidate who was good, but maybe not the best or simply not the right fit for that exact position, put in another application.

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It doesn't mean anything necessarily. There are way too many variables, rendering one's ability to see through the fog of war impossible.

Having said that, you should mentally shift focus towards new opportunities. There is no sense in spending further energy on this particular outcome, continue instead focusing on your skills and network.

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Unlike the other answers that exist at the time I'm responding, I'll address your edit that says the company reposted the 'exact same job.'

Honestly? I still wouldn't read that much into it. Unless you know that the re-post was the same job description for the same hiring manager, it could be they just happened to list a quite similar job with a separate chain. And even re-posting the same job for the same person wouldn't mean that they wouldn't consider your application if you applied again in the future (suitably far away that something will have changed about your situation); it sounds like they considered you carefully and decided you couldn't provide what they needed for this specific job.

If I can summarize all the other answers, it is this: all organizations--large ones by virtue of their size, small ones by virtue of not having efficiencies of scale--have a lot of friction around internal communication. As such, correspondence with a corporate entity will never have the same level of nuance that we would expect of actual interpersonal correspondence. It's usually a very bad idea to treat an official letter as an oracle or omen that you can squeeze subtle meanings out of--it probably wasn't even written by the person who authorized it being sent to you.

And I do have some experience in this area; in another life, I handled an extremely complex form letter system for admissions letters for a university (with some half-dozen different constituent schools). This correspondence took the collective effort, annually, of dozens of people for weeks--every admissions director rewriting their letters every year, a bunch of data processing folks to generate them, proofing them all, etc. In this situation, some administrators chose to make a nuance where some letters conditionally included a 'welcome you to reapply' type of line; but the vast majority of them didn't make that distinction. It just wasn't worth it. It would be madness for the company you applied for to have that level of process complexity capable of making that individualized a determination.

For you this is a disappointing email that cuts short a possible new employment path and ends a new dream just beginning to take root. For the machine that sent it, it's just another Friday.

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