Getting Rejected for Being Too Nice [An Unemployment Story]

After nearly 4 months of receiving rejection emails, going on interviews and never hearing from the interviewer again, and sending out hundreds of resumes into the electronic abyss, I thought that I was getting used to this. The rejections stung a little less, and I made a tentative peace with the fact that I’d get about 1 call for every 20 resumes I’d send out.

But this one, this one got under my skin. I applied for a freelance writing job – blogging for a small business owner who was trying to launch a particular business. I sent the requested writing sample – an article that I researched and wrote on her specific business. To protect her confidentiality, let’s say her business was baking cakes. I am not a baker, so I spent a good deal of time reading about how to bake a cake, and wrote an awesome article about cake baking and why people should hire this person to bake their cakes.

Within an hour of sending in my resume and writing sample, the business owner emailed, saying how much she liked my article. We scheduled a phone interview for the next morning.  I then spent more time looking at her website, and reading the existing blog articles. The business was only a few months old, and there were about a dozen blog articles on the website. To say these articles were poorly written would be kind. There were typos, grammatical errors, and a stock photo graphic that, when paired with its particular title, alluded to pornography. I understood why she was hiring a freelance blogger, and I felt sure that I could help her business.

We spoke the next morning, discussing my experience and her needs. I felt that my qualifications more then met what she was looking for, and I was willing, no eager, to work for the low flat rate she was offering. The money wouldn’t have paid for a week’s worth of groceries, but after being unemployed for so long, I just wanted to feel useful again! She stated that she was deciding between me and another candidate, and promised to call by the end of the day. As the hours slipped by, and my phone stayed silent, I knew it wasn’t a good sign.

I emailed this morning, a professional follow-up. Her response as to why I wasn’t chosen: “the deciding factor was he read my blog posts and pointed out typos or grammatical errors in one of the posts.”

My heart sank. Silly me, thinking it would be rude and unprofessional to point out all the errors on the existing website during my interview.  My recommended changes were neatly filed away in a Word document, waiting until I was hired for implementation. I’m angry with myself for not being assertive enough, or savvy enough to figure out a polite way to say “I want you to hire me, so let me tell you everything that’s wrong with your existing blog.” Mostly, I want to email her back and tell her that she’s making a big mistake, because I had some really great ideas for her blog and her business.

Lesson fully learned though: no more Ms. Nice Kate. I’m putting on my assertiveness cape and my ass-kicking boots, and flying off into the electronic abyss again.

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