I’m a reject

July 13, 2011 · 43 comments

So I casually mentioned a few weeks back that I had a phone interview with a small Seattle based company… Microsoft. Have you heard of them? Well, I just heard back from HR and am proud to announce…. I GOT REJECTED!!!!! Booya! Here was the email I got from the super nice recruiter lady…

So, as you can see, I was clearly under-qualified for the position to which I applied. Fortunately, I knew that I didn’t have a shot in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks of getting past the first round of interviews. To be honest, I don’t even know why I was referred for an interview in the first place? Perhaps the recruiter that referred me for interview was high, on mushrooms (or Sharpie markers). That”s the only logical I can think of at least.

Was I shocked to be the newest member of the interview reject club? No. Was I bummed out to get rejected? A little. Will I apply for another gig at Microsoft again? ABSOLUTELY!

It’s important when you are not selected for a job/internship/college of choice, that you don’t take it personally. I knew going in to the interview I had an uphill battle to fight, since as noted in the email, I had absolutely no technical or IT experience. Who woulda thought Microsoft would want someone with computer experience? Weird, right?

So why did I apply for a position I wasn’t qualified for? The way I see it there were really only two outcomes.

1. I go through the interview, get completely dominated by it, am turned down, but still get to learn a lot about how Microsoft interviews work.

2. I, by some freak accident, get a job offer.

As you can see, both option 1 and 2 are pretty freakin’ cool. Either way I come out a winner.

I’ll be keeping you posted as I hopefully will go through many more job interviews in the coming months and years. Even if I don’t ever get another job offer, at least I’ll be one heck of an interviewer.

Have you ever been an interview reject? Have you ever taken it personally? You ever applied to the same company that previously rejected you? Am I the only person that actually enjoys job interviews?

p.s. If you work for Microsoft give me a job, thanks :)

**UPDATE: I should mention I know a few people that are high up in MSFT. They encouraged me to apply for this specific position, as well as other similar roles, as MSFT sometimes will hire “investment candidates” for these roles. Meaning applicants that don’t necessarily have the technical knowledge expected, but demonstrate the capacity to learn quickly. It should also be noted, these positions are not highly technical  (software developer, coder, etc), but more along the lines of relationship manager to clients that use MSFT products.**

{ 39 comments }

1 cashflowmantra

It’s like the toddler theory of going after a job. Annoy me enough and I might just say yes to get you to leave me alone and be someone else’s problem. It is truly genius. Kids must be smarter than we think.

2 Jon -- Free Money Wisdom

Haha, brilliant! Keep coming back and they eventually will do anything to get you OFF their back. Tenacity is underrated these days.

3 Stephanie

Just curious, what sort of jobs at Microsoft fit with your skill set? All I think about are computer/IT jobs. I’m guessing there’s marketing or customer research?

I’m assuming this time with your 12 applications that these actually fit your resume? Because I’m not sure how long they’ll keep interviewing a non-tech guy for a tech job.

Good luck with your Microsoft Quest. Wear them down!

4 Allie

I’m a serial job-applier too. I normally don’t look at job listings (except right now, ‘cuz I’m unemployed), but instead just look for places I’d like to work then walk in and tell them they need to hire me. It’s how I’ve gotten several of my previous jobs! I shall not be deterred by anyone saying there aren’t any positions available!

5 rob

HR is very well aware if you have a large number of applications open and if it appears you are shotgunning (just applying randomly in hopes of finding anything at all) you will be pushed to the bottom. Hopefully the 12 applications you have open are similar in nature or are suited to your work history and experience. Goodluck.

6 First Gen American

Did you really apply for an IT position with a psychology degree? As a technical person, that’s hilarious. I would no sooner give you an IT job than have you plumb my bathroom.

In all seriousness though, you probably could qualify for an HR position with your degree. I work in high tech and many of our HR folks are psychology majors. I think some actually have masters in HR type stuff though, so it depends if you want to be an HR generalist (dealing with day to day stuff), vs specialist (salary planning, policies, etc)

7 First Gen American

One more thought on this. I really think it’s a horrible resource suck when people apply for positions that they are grossly under qualified for. When we hire folks at our company there are countless hours spent phone screening candidates that aren’t even remotely qualified to do certain jobs. If you’re referred by a personal reference (not a headhunter who makes money off you), that’s a different story because often a good interview might lead to placing you in the function you belong..so it’s a good networking opportunity for you and the company.

If the job description says you need an engineering degree or 5 years experience in an engineering field, we mean it. I’ve done a fair amount of recruiting over the years and in this economy, it’s even more difficult finding qualified candidates because you end up getting hundreds of applicants for a job that don’t have ANY experience that’s relevant. What ends up happening? People spent 20 seconds looking at a resume and as a result some people who probably are qualified get skipped over by accident because of the sheer volume of crap resumes we have to go sift through.

So, yes, you may be getting something out of it, but it’s at the expense of others.

8 slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com

What he said and the buy before him said. Don’t eliminate your chances of getting a job at a place like MSFT by pulling this crap.

9 Amy

See, I have to disagree with this **some**. Mostly this quote: “If the job description says you need an engineering degree or 5 years experience in an engineering field, we mean it.”

There are a few problems with this quote. The first is that years of experience do not automatically mean competency. I would rather hire someone who had 3 years of experience in a particular field and was a fast learner, hard worker and overall smart person than someone who had 5 years of experience in that field but learns slowly, is lazy, and can’t work with others. So even if I put 5 years experience on the job listing, if someone who had 3 years but was exceptional in other ways applied I still might gladly hire them.

Secondly, often the people who craft these job listings are not thinking them through fully, or they are poorly written. I’ve seen once or twice a job listing where someone needs “5 years of experience in x technology” when in fact that technology hasn’t even EXISTED for 5 years. No one would meet the qualifications.

Thirdly, you are not leaving room for people who are wishing to make career changes, whether large or small. You have to start somewhere. If you’ve been working in a particular field for 10 years — say, teaching tech ed in high school — and want to move to a *mostly* unrelated field — say, web development, how do you get your foot in the door? You may have a background in technology for your class, you may have dabbled in web development on the side, but you have 0 official years in the field. Should you start in an entry-level position? Maybe. Maybe not. How extensive was that dabbling? What subjects did you teach? Do the other skills you used as a teacher translate to anything essential to the job?

To deal with something even smaller, imagine someone who started in php development and wanted to start working in .Net. Your job listing states you need 3 years of experience in .Net development, but Mary has only developed one small .Net program in class. However, her 5 years of php as well as other various experience with other languages and OO programing concepts mean that she will pick up .Net development very quickly. Compared to someone with 3 years of .Net dev who has only focused only in one unrelated area and never programmed in any other language, Mary could be a huge asset.

10 First Gen American

In the case where someone is trying to make a career change, then I think it would be best to get a personal recommendation from someone in the industry you’re trying to break into. Personal references are often much more valuable in job searching than meeting the job description 100%. (And I think I even noted that)..But as someone who’s part of the hiring process, if I have the choice between two strangers, one with relevant experience and one without, then it’s a pretty easy decision.

Networking is way more important than I ever imagined in the business world. Contacts are key and that comes from ex-classmates, professors, professional organizations, volunteer activities, keeping in touch with old colleagues after they’ve left your company, helping out headhunters with names, etc.

11 This Guy

Macintosh is better.

12 J.R.

+1 for this comment :)

13 Mo D.

Back in the day, I pretty much got any job I applied for, but as I got older and competition got more intense, I was no longer the job interview golden child I once was. About 7.5 yrs. ago, I lost my job due to restructure/reorganization, and sent my resume to a recruiter; she called me within minutes to say she had what sounded like the perfect job match and she needed me to interview for it right away (before she even had a chance to meet me); the 2 interviews I had went very well. I had also sent my resume to another placement agency and they told me it was too bad they felt my French wasn’t strong enough to apply for one of their client’s postings… turns out BOTH agencies were sending people to the same company for the same job… the company that hired me almost 7.5 yrs. ago!

Keep at it Ninja… GOOD LUCK!!!

14 Melanie

I work in HR. People who apply to mass amounts of jobs drive me crazy. If you’re just applying to any job, regardless of whether or not you meet the minimum requirements does nothing to help your long term employment chances with the company. It just takes more time for the recruitment team to screen the applicants.

Wait until there are jobs which actually meet your education and experience and then go for it.

Plus, that is a crazy weird email with the feedback. I’ve never given that type of feedback to a candidate in my life…

15 Diana

It sounds like an internal employee asked HR and forwarded the email to Ninja. We do that in the organization I work for (HR in a large org where people are always trying to get their friends/family in)

16 Nick

I’m just impressed that there was a REAL email that you received. It’s nice to know why you weren’t hired, instead of just the generic “You suck so we hired someone else” email.

I do have to agree with others though. Stick to applying to jobs that you’re qualified for, maybe even a slight reach (otherwise nobody would ever get promoted, right?!). That rejection email said lack of technical knowledge, lack of enterprise knowledge/experience, and then questioned your ability to convey this technical/enterprise information to management. It sounds to me like this was quite a bit more than a slight reach.

17 LLF

not sure why you sent the resume in for that job, were you looking to change career path from non-tech to tech? I am sure that MS has non-tech positions that will require your skills. Since you do BLANK for the federal government, maybe you can be an account rep for their government sales/support/developement side?

18 SP

If you actually want to move to a tech/IT role, you will need to beef up your knowledge and resume. I’m not in IT, so I don’t really know the best method… but I’m sure you can do research and figure it out. You’ll probably have to take some classes. Maybe you could start somewhere smaller and move to microsoft after you have some experience, but I’ve actually found large companies are slightly more willing to take a risk and train someone who has less experience (but not NO experience/education).

Good luck on your job hunt!

(Also, was that email from a recruiter/friend? I’ve never gotten any feedback.)

19 Eric

I also work in HR and can back up what an earlier commenter said. When we have a serial applier, we ignore their applications.

20 20 and Engaged

I’ve applied for literally hundreds of positions in the past 7 months since getting laid off, but really I only apply to positions I at least 75% qualify for (most of the positions that I don’t qualify for it’s because I lack a college degree). The dozen or so interviews I’ve gone all obviously have moved on with different candidates but for a few I was close to getting the position. It’s discouraging, especially for a few of them that I was sure I had, but I take it as experience.

21 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

I didn’t realize you were planning on looking for a new job! I thought keeping your job was part of the whole “move to Seattle” deal a couple of months ago.

22 Beef

Getting flamed today ninja sahn.

23 Trina

I think the point you intended to make was to be persistent and continue to work for what you want, while learning and growing to meet the needs of the position. What it reads is like cashflowmantra said; just keep at it until you get it, qualified or not.
A couple years ago I interviewed for an AD job at a high school. It was just out of reach, I hadn’t quite finished my admin cert and it would have been a steep learning curve. I did not get the position, but the opportunity to experience that kind on interview (me at a tiny table with 15 people facing me and a panel of questions!) was a great experience that I will take with me the next time.
I love your ‘this is my outlook on life’ post. Good luck with the job hunt.

24 Erica

I’ve got a pretty good job right now so I dont think I’ll be applying for any new ones in the upcoming future, but I do like job interviews. While I was in university I was able to be part of a program where I had to hold interviews so I was able to experience the other side of things. I’ve also been rejected from an interview. Who hasn’t? You deal with it and just move on. Lucky for me, the job I was rejected for ended up being the one I got with a different school bored, much closer to home, same pay. Things have a funny way of working out.
Also, I can back up what others have said about the serial applier thing. Eventually they just tired of seeing your resume and just ignore it.

25 krantcents

If you are doing anything, you will fail something. If you are interviewing, you will be rejected some of the time. My wife is the one exception to that rule. She applies one place and they hire her. She is an RN and very good at her job.

26 Bing

I just started reading your blog and I really enjoy it. Question: Why are you looking to leave the goverment? You make a good salary.

27 Financial Samurai

Love it man! Ya never know what will happen. Just gotta try!

I want you to apply as the CEO of their online sales division and hook us up!

Sam

28 Larry

Have to agree with some of the other commentators. Don’t flood any corporation with resumes for positions your qualifications don’t match. You’ll wear out your welcome. At this point, there’s nothing you can do about the 12 additional resumes you’ve sent in, but don’t do any more. Your best bet at this point is to lay low with Microsoft, keep your eyes open for possibilities with other companies, and apply only for jobs where your background reasonably matches the qualifications expected.

29 Hrm

I can guarantee you that people in varying departments have seen this blog entry and they’re *very* impressed, especially when making fun of the recruiter.

30 Paula @ AffordAnything.org

You’re probably learning a lot from the interview feedback, which will be helpful for ultimately getting the job you want.

31 BRB

I’m doing pretty much the exact same thing. Microsoft is a hard place to get in to even if your husband works there, like mine. If I was a programmer I probably wouldn’t have much of a problem, but as I’m just trying to do admin stuff his help referral isn’t worth as much.

32 susan

I’m extremely inspired with your writing abilities as smartly with the structure for your blog

33 101 Centavos

Echo what First Gen American said. If it’s a half-way decent HR department, they’ll keep records of who’s applied and who’s been rejected. Being rejected as underqualified or “not a good fit” may count against you. Personally, I keep lists of who’s applied to my team openings in the past, and share that with HR prior to the job hunt. Although the resume may be fluffy enough to get the candidates past the first screening, the actual skill sets leave them unqualified.

34 Simplicity

Why are you looking for new work?

35 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

I was rejected by the job I have now. I called them back and told them they made a mistake in rejecting me. They changed their mind. Booyah!

36 MSFT Spy

Feedback for full time employee interview “loops” get filed with HR, and hiring managers for subsequent loops will receive all the written feedback for all of your previous interviews.

So what does this mean? Let’s say you throw yourself at an interview loop for a Software Architect role, and you get roasted in the feedback. If you then go interview for something more your speed you’ll have the deal with the fact that the person interviewing you just read a bunch of comments about you that go like this:

“No Hire. This guy doesn’t know a single thing about coding, let alone architecture, this interview was a complete waste of time.”

The moral of the story: if you’re going for an FTE role, make damn well sure it’s something you’re capable of getting. You can, however, use the shotgun approach for contingent staff and vendor positions.

37 Financial Success for Young Adults

I went through about 20 different job interviews and at least 100 applications before one said yes. And after each one I had better skills an knew what to expect in the interview for the next one. I know you won’t give up, but just incase you do…. Bon Jovi told me to tell you don’t stop believin!

38 Anonymous

I am totally floored by the nice, detailed feedback she gave you about why you weren’t chosen. If only all HR/recruiters were like her!

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