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The best rejection ever

I was depressed yesterday, and Monday. Really depressed. But last night I decided I wasn’t going to just roll over. I wrote back to the lady who rejected my application and expressed to her passionately that Sean and I are committed to living in Japan. I illustrated for her how I grew to love Japan and to think of it as a home. When I was finished with my arguments, I stated that this would be the last such message I sent her, unless she had questions for me, and I apologized for taking so much of her time.

When she wrote back, it was not to dismiss me outright. Instead, she actually asked questions!

They were hard, pointed questions, but they were good questions, and I was impressed by her frankness. The questions were about Sean, how he feels about Japan, whether or not he speaks Japanese, what he does for a living, and how we felt about living on minimum wage. (She cited a figure in a later message…it’s actually more than minimum wage, but it’s not a princely salary.)

I told Sean what she’d asked and he said, “She’s smart.”

After the questions she elaborated on her point. Many employees have been lost because their families were unhappy living in Japan. She went on to say that I did not really have the experience and skillset she was looking for. She said I was a “potential diamond in the rough”, and that she would prefer that I be chipped out of the rock first, so that her company could then do the polishing.

As you may be able to tell, I’m trying not to quote her directly, as this was a private conversation between the two of us. I’m also not going to say which company it is. But I have to quote one thing that absolutely made my day.

I only gave you consideration at all because you wrote a damn fine cover letter and that’s a rare thing to find. I respect the ability to make a case in writing, it’s what I look for and you have done it well.

Ah, my ego, she is satisfied…

I responded to this letter thanking her for her honesty and answering the questions she put to me. By that point I knew I wasn’t going to get the job, but I still wanted to answer her, to keep myself in her thoughts. I was frank in my response, as she was to me. I didn’t shy away from truthful responses, even when they hurt my case. But I did go into Sean’s personality, job, and habits a little, to try and explain why he is willing to move to Japan.

She surprised me with her response.

Rather than simply saying, “Well, thank you, but you’re not the candidate we’re looking for,” she responded to my thoughts with suggestions about how I could parlay Sean’s and my experience into jobs in Japan. Her tone by this point had become very friendly. She told us to enroll Sean in Japanese lessons and get him up to intermediate level within a year, and that if we were able to get over to Japan for a year she would happily reconsider my application at that point. And in her PS, she listed literally dozens of websites that help people get jobs in Japan.

I was amazed and touched by her generosity and kindness. While she couldn’t hire me, she treated me with the utmost respect. She was honest. She told me exactly where I was lacking. And she gave every indication that she believed I am worth something, that I can bring myself up to the level the company needs.

She closed the letter with the following: “in time, maybe we’ll see a good position that matches you open up at [our company]”. I don’t believe that was flattery or an attempt to placate me. Not from someone as frank as this lady.

This is the first time I have ever been rejected for a job and yet felt good about it. I feel like I know where I’m strong and where I need to improve, and I feel that my abilities have been recognized.

It’s a great feeling.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to apply for another job. Local this time…extra income so we can afford those Japanese lessons ;>