I'd applied and been turned down by a company about 2 months ago. The HR manager, say Jill, first asked me what I'd been doing since my last position. I'm in a new town this past 4 months, and there was a 4 months' gap on my resume back then.

I'd replied to Jill saying what I did. “What i did” included the following:

  • wrote a system of my own -- also sent her the URL,
  • took 2 short trips here,
  • relocated here,
  • wrote a framework into my own codebase (I'm a software developer),
  • job searched.

In her response to this, she said that she went over my resume with her team, and that they decided they need developers with more experience. I read this as she didn't like this gap on my resume. My technical experience and the number of years I worked are well fitting, even more than what the role describes.

In a professional gathering last week, I came across a developer, say Jim, who works for that company. Jim is close to the HR manager and is helping her in finding developers. In fact, Jim was there that day to keep an eye out for candidates. We had a nice, lengthy conversation, and he strongly suggested that I should re-apply. I didn't remember Jill's response while Jim and I were talking. So, I said to him "I'll look up and ping her unless I'd heard from her." Jim is in another technical team-- not the one hiring for this role.

Later on when I checked and found out about her refusal, I told Jim about it, thanked him "still for his call on this" and left it there.

Today, I received a message from Jill saying that she spoke with Jim, that she's sorry not to have gotten back to me on my application, and asking me for my resume.

Her letter is nice-- I couldn't have put it in a better way if i were to write it myself. I'm not greedy - well, I like to think I'm not. But then I don’t want to start on the wrong foot. Her response before was a discredit to my skills. If I go along with this as is, (Jill's message today hasn't the slightest hint to her rejection), I'll have accepted the situation as is, a part of which is I've already been marked down once as "not good enough". But then I don't want to come out as difficult/dragging.

The role is interesting and fitting. And I’ve had a positive feeling about the company culture.

What I think I can do are the following:

  1. reply saying something like "not much change in my skills since then. I took up a project, however it’s very recent and early yet to add to my resume." -- which is what it is. I took up a freelance project 3 weeks ago. Haven't yet put it on my resume, but told Jim about it when we talked. This kind of response may come out as getting back at her, but this is nowhere near the intent.

  2. Just go ahead and reply her in the same “tune”-- forget about her prior response and resend the resume. This is the advice I’ve got most so far. But I don’t feel comfortable about it. Feels a bit like joining the charade-- if nothing else. These are people I’ll supposedly be working together with.

  3. There’s always the option of sitting on my hands and doing nothing. But then the role is all good aside from this “flaw”.

How to handle this situation? I'd appreciate any suggestions/insights.


  • 7
    Sometimes "Needs more experience" is a convenient answer, specially when (for the HR person) it would not be deemed necessary to disclose the real reasons. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 13:32
  • 4
    When you are rejected by a HR or recruiter, the specifics of what they say, any reasons given, mean nothing. It's just that they didn't like you or it didn't work out that time. (Indeed, it is ridiculous when they bother stating specific reasons.) What the person said earlier means, simply - utterly nothing. The person won't even remember what they said or that they said it. take the job and enjoy it. You're reading spectacularly too much in to it! Enjoy.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 13:41
  • Exactly as carrdelling says, her earlier letter means less than nothing: indeed it was likely just a cut and paste form letter response. Totally forget it. Be sure to never mention it again. Like, in a year do not take the person aside and say "remember the first time you emailed me...?" sort of thing. Drop it and enjoy!
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 13:44

5 Answers 5


"Needs more experience" is a convenient and nice way to say "did not get the job".

You then had a conversation with one of the other people that worked for that organization and got along well, which changed the how they perceived you as a job candidate.

This new perception fits with someone that they want to hire.

It seems like you are taking the first rejection as a personal slight directly from the HR manager but they was almost certainly not the only one to make that decision. Perceptions change, and thus decisions change. If you want the job you should reapply for the job under these new circumstances.


In her response, she said that she went over my resume with her team, and that they decided they need developers with more experience. I read this as she didn't like this gap on my resume.

What? Why would you not take her statement at face value? I think you are reading far too much into her response.

"Today, i received a message from Jill saying that she spoke with Jim, that she's sorry not to have gotten back to me on my application, and asking me for my resume."

The way this sounds, I think she has no memory of your prior application and cv review, and subsequent rejection. You seem to again be reading a lot into the situation, even going so far as to refer to her most recent reply as a "charade".

If she is an HR manager, she has many many duties, other candidates to review, etc. It is very unlikely you stand out in her mind at all, honestly. Even a low level HR person is likely to forget you as soon as you leave the pool of candidates under consideration.

It is really not helpful to assume the worst about people and their intentions, as it solves nothing, has a lot of potential to cause problems, and in a case like this especially, it's just not relevant to the big picture. Even if it is a charade (doubtful), who cares? You will not work with her if you are hired, so who cares?

You have your second chance for this job - go get it, if you want it. And option #2 would be the best way to do that.

  • 5
    "you are reading far too much into her response" Precisely.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 13:42
  • And even better, HR (writ large) evidently thought that they didn't know very much about finding developers so they sent Jim out, who found you. Move forward and don't worry about HR. Hope that they process the paperwork quickly.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 14:13
  • Indeed. As much as we all like to feel special, when you're interviewing every candidate is someone who feels like they are special. If all the candidates are special then basically none of them are. It's important to remember that interviewing is not just about checking the boxes of whether you can do the job with your skills: they are looking for someone to join their workforce so they have to get a good feeling about you. The interviewer can't get to know you in one conversation but they DO have to decide on that very shaky basis.
    – Cronax
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 16:02

The role is interesting and fitting. And i’ve had a positive feeling about the company culture.

This sounds like you want the job, so you should follow through with it.

Her response before was a discredit to my skills.

Perhaps. But Jill is looking for the right person and for whatever reason she didn't feel like you were the right person. She is maybe wrong, and miscalculated, or perhaps you didn't sell yourself correctly. People make mistakes. Your chat with Jim certainly sold to him that you're the right person, and he's convinced her. You don't need to read into this any further.

Her letter is nice-- I couldn't have put it in a better way if i were to write it myself.

It sounds like this should've cleared any problems you had.

I don't think there's any reason not to follow through on this opportunity, and you yourself even feel strongly about it, but perhaps you simply needed the reassurance.

  • so, go ahead and do (2), set aside any ill feelings?
    – javaDoe
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 6:28
  • 2
    @javaDoe I don't see any reason for "ill feelings" in your description of how they handled your application. Since these feelings hinder your success and you usually have more contact with the technical team than with HR in your work I'd say you should set these feelings aside.
    – user29390
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 7:50

If I read your story, I think: Jill is a experience hiring manager, who uses phrases that are legally proofed so you can´t complain about any discrimination etc.

Neither the reason for not taking you, nor the reason for re-inviting you have any meaning whatsoever other then: We did not want you then, we are reconsidering now.

Just "join the charade" - do what ever formalities to get the job - in the end, you will not work with this person but the other programmers day-to-day.


This is a job with a company you wanted to work for before, in a role you wanted before, and you state, yourself, that you think the job would be interesting,a good fit, and you have a good feeling about the company culture.

Sounds like an ideal position, and the company is actively asking your to apply - they are courting you for this position!

So, what's the hold up?

Her response before was a discredit to my skills.

There are two terms or phrases that come to mind, that are driving your reluctance to take what sounds like a dream job. They are "cut off your nose to spite your face," and "butt-hurt."

Basically, your feelings were hurt last time around. You were a perfectly qualified candidate, and they rejected you (during a time when you really wanted the job and possibly had some other job-search frustrations). They clearly made a mistake, as has been validated by then wanting you, now, but you want some kind of personal satisfaction. You'd like to see them grovel, just a little, perhaps, maybe acknowledge they treated you wrongly, or possibly feel some of the pain that you felt.

Certainly, a drawn out search for a position can be one of the most soul-crushing, degrading experiences, and it's hard not to feel put down by the rejections.

You need to put that aside. You are talking about your career, and your professional life here. Be coldly objective and, well, "professional" about it. It is NOT a personal slight against you. HR, by definition, is clueless about the nuts and bolts of positions, and it only gets worse the more technical the position is (had an HR colleague send a resume of someone who operated a forklift at a logistics distribution hub to our Data Warehouse manager, because they spotted the word "warehouse" on the resume). HR, sometimes through their own means, and sometimes from arbitrary marching orders from above, come up with many irrelevant ways to try and filter out resumes/candidates for positions ("a gap is a red flag" "we need a credit report for this position that does not handle any financial transactions because it says something about their character" etc). They often simply don't know any better, so they project imaginary professional traits onto things that don't match. It was an error on their part, if you are the worker you feel you are, not a personal attack. An error based on ignorance, not malice.

So here's the thing - HR at this company, like many others, is a bit overmatched when it comes to assessing technical candidates, and flailed and missed on you the first time around. They are willing to, if not admit they erred, to admit they may have erred and aren't digging in their heels.

Sounds like a great job. The first rejection will sting a lot worse in a few years if you wind up not getting the job twice, the second time by your own choice, over this matter. The only person who gets hurt this time by your desire for some additional satisfaction (beyond getting this great job that you want), is going to be you. I guarantee you that if you don't take it, they're not going to invest a lot of emotion in you rejecting them. It happens, companies are used to it, and they really aren't aware of what they're missing out on if you never get to show them how good you are.

It's not a charade, but a reflection on a process that needs fixing. That can only be done from the inside, over time, if IT insists on taking a more active role (not a fun one) in assessing candidates, or is more active in giving HR feedback on where they are falling short. None of that is within your realm of control, now, as a candidate.

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