Job Rejection: “We’ll Keep Your Resume on File” Letter
After you find out that you didn't get the job, when an employer tells you "We'll keep your resume on file" what does it mean? Are they really going to remember you? Do they ever use those words if they don't actually mean it?
A reader recently wrote in to ask those questions. Here's her comment and my response…
She would keep my resume on file for "future opportunities"
Dear Ronnie Ann,
About a month ago I went for an interview and it seemed to have gone pretty well. They told me that they would have an answer within 2 days I didn't hear back. I decided to send them a thank-you email but received no response. Two weeks past I sent another email just following up with no response once again. I knew by now I didn't get the position.
A couple days ago now being a month later I sent a quick email saying I was back at work from maternity leave and enjoying being back into the work force showing interest in the company, politely asking to keep me in mind for the future. Finally I got a response. She said she appreciated my interest and would keep my resume on file for future opportunities.
My question is: Why now? Was this just an email to get me off her back? I haven't emailed in over a month and obviously this would be my last. So why email me now? Would love to know if you think they liked me or if this was a pity email?
My response to Shelly's questions
As you probably know by now, not getting responses from the employer while the hiring process is still ongoing is a pretty normal thing, although I wish they would at least acknowledge receipt — even if management / legal tells them not to say more. It actually doesn't mean you didn't get the job, even if it feels that way.
You may have heard back now because the decision was made. That frees them up to communicate. As for the nature of that particular response, odds are she was being polite, but in my own career as a hiring manager I sometimes did call someone we liked for a future position. So it pays to keep all communication friendly. (If you're still looking, you might even touch base in a few months. You never know.)
Plus, if there is an automated system, that can find your resume for future positions, so always make sure you have ample keywords in your resume that highlight key skills / experience.
It's hard when you are not the one they choose. But it doesn't mean they didn't like you. Having done this many times, hiring managers know more about the actual job and people you'd have to deal with — and I have had to say no to many terrific candidates.
I wish you luck finding the right job for you!
~ Ronnie Ann
A few more thoughts
I decided to share this because all too often the hiring process can feel like a giant puzzle without an answer key. All you want to know is what are they really thinking. Unfortunately "they" are many different people, and each one may be thinking something different.
That means you will never know for sure unless they tell you. And that's ok. Many jobs are gotten amid the mystery. All you can do is make sure you give your very best each time and keep believing in yourself — and never give up until you find that job.
And if it helps you to know this, even after all these years and all I know both as a serial job-seeker and hiring manager, I still get surprised every now and then by some totally illogical outcome. Just remember that even after countless rejections, it only takes one "yes."