About a year ago, I applied to a company. I seriously believed that I was the most qualified person for the job (though admittedly I also have an excessive ego).

To my surprise, I was flat-out, instant rejected (without even a quick Skype interview, which is the customary first hurdle for this company). I tried finding out why I got rejected but never got any replies.

There is now a new (but very similar) position that I am thinking of applying for again. I notice that the HR person who instant-rejected me last year is no longer at the company and there's a new HR person.

If I do apply for this new position, should I "confess" and let the company know up-front that I previously applied? This would perhaps be the "honest" thing to do, though it might simply give the new HR person (who is doubtless flooded with hundreds and thousands of applications) an excuse to instant-reject me again.

Or should I just keep mum on the matter and pretend that I'm applying for the first time?

  • 1
    I don't see why it would be relevant. – sevenseacat Aug 2 '16 at 11:44
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    There is no need to mention it. They'll know it. But one year is long enough. You shouldn't have a problem at all. That being said, send your resume to the hiring manager this time, you want you resume to be forwarded to HR from the hiring manager (or if not the hiring manager, at least an employee of the company). Also show resume to some of your professional friends before you send it this second time, to ask for some constructive feedback. You need multiple sets of fresh eyes to take look at your resume. – Stephan Branczyk Aug 2 '16 at 11:51
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    It sounds like your resume may have fallen afoul of a automatic system as well. Make sure that you include all the key words they are looking for in the listing. – JasonJ Aug 2 '16 at 12:40
  • The only possible reason you would have to mention this is if your name is on an automatic rejection list...and if that's the case, mentioning it won't help. So if you're going to apply at all, just apply normally. – Zibbobz Aug 2 '16 at 20:29
  • @JasonJ - Despite what companies say about making sure they "hire the best" - the reality is this: if there are 100 candidates for a position, they will almost certainly not hold 100 interviews (which could take weeks) - chances are around 75% (possibly even up to 90%) of candidates will be filtered out before even a phone interview (100 phone screens can take days). Automatic systems don't even come into it - as even if you did pass it, there will still be human evaluating the resume. – HorusKol Aug 2 '16 at 23:50

You should apply as normal. If they've computerised their systems then they'll know you're re-applying for the post. This really shouldn't matter unless you were rejected for some fundamental incompatibility with the employer (and that doesn't seem to be the case).

Follow their usual application process to the best of your ability, no more and no less. You say you have ego problems - remember that this will not serve you well; you need to show in your application that you will solve the problem they're having which means carefully reading the person spec and job details and showing in your resume and/or covering letter how you meet those needs. Don't assume that "it should be obvious", which is a common fault I see with applicants who have an overly high opinion of themselves.

  • "Hear, hear ...!" – Mike Robinson Aug 2 '16 at 13:43
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    Also, if "ego problem" is on your resume, remove it, that will not do you any favors. And if you feel like you don't work well in groups, change that too, and remove it from your resume if possible - you will be working with groups in a job. That is (nearly) inevitable. – Zibbobz Aug 2 '16 at 20:30

Short Answer: I recommend applying as if it were the first time, do not mention that you are reapplying anywhere and do not worry if they find out. You can apply as often as you like (within reason) for as many positions at the company as you like (and are qualified for, or at least think you are qualified for). What to do with your applications becomes the HR dept's concern, not yours.

Long Answer, or things to keep in mind:

  • The inner workings of the HR mechanism vary from company to company, and can even vary from one year to another at same company. This depends on company size, age (how set it is in its ways), economy (supply/demand), etc. For example, a company might decide to outsource its hiring functions, focusing internal HR on last steps of the process post-vetting, or more internal HR matters post-hire.
  • There are many reasons applications are rejected. I say applications and not applicants -- there is a difference. A revised/improved application from the same person might be treated differently if they did a better job presenting themselves and illustrating a fit with the position and employer.
  • As others have alluded, if the initial vetting is by a computerized system (more likely in a larger org), keywords are...well, key to passing that round. Study the job announcement carefully and pepper your resume with the right terminology where appropriate, without distorting the truth beyond what you could justify.
  • Applications may be rejected due to factors outside of the applicant's control, i.e. things you are not responsible for. Examples: changes in budget may require cancelling a recruitment for a given position with a given department or unit. You might still feel rejected, but knowing that the reason may have nothing to do with you personally can help to get over that.

All this suggests that, unless you have insider knowledge as to specific reasons that led to the rejection on the grounds that have to do with YOU specifically, as a person, it is safe to assume the opposite. Conversely, even if it had something to do with you, this absolutely should not matter for your decision to reapply -- positions are posted to solicit applications from presumably qualified applicants. If you consider yourself to be one, go for it without a second thought.

Finally, a general advice: when applying for jobs, separate your emotions from the process. Treat applications as work on a conveyor belt at a sausage factory -- send them out the door and let them be. Don't get attached to the outcome of the application attempts -- let place, timing, and circumstances play out as they may. If you miss, simply move on. Also, if this helps, you can be sure that on the receiving end (especially at larger firms) your application is treated exactly this way -- as yet another sausage ;) You will not lose anything from maintaining such perspective, and will only gain patience, calmness, and will conserve valuable emotional and mental energy to be invested into other applications.

If all this sounds a bit dispassionate, that's the intent, because it should be when done right. I realize that your application is special and dear to you, and that you already imagine yourself in the position you are applying for and thinking of all the ways life will be better when you get it. And it's OK to allow yourself to do that - it makes the process way more fun!

At the same time, try to keep a cool head and don't dwell on the outcome in terms of what it means to your identity, future, happiness, etc. etc. Maybe you were rejected only to become available for a better opportunity around the corner. There is always something ele around the corner. Good luck!

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