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This Company’s Reply to a Discouraged Job Applicant is a Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

Dear companies everywhere: This is how it's done.

Gerd Altman via Pixabay
Gerd Altman via Pixabay

If you’ve ever had to search for a job, you know how exhausting–and emotionally draining–that search can be.

Just ask Sarah Patrick. 

After working 12 years in marketing for a large corporation, Patrick was laid off from her job as a director during an organizational restructuring. Over the next year, the search for a new position led her to cloud computing company Digital Ocean.

Upon submitting her application, she was immediately smitten with the reply she received. So much so, she shared it on Twitter:

So, what was so great about that initial email?

After the traditional “thank you for applying” intro, the email strikes an empathetic tone:

“Applying for a job can be exciting–and nerve-wracking. Especially when you find your dream job, click apply, and wait, and then wait some more. We’ve been there too, so we want to share what’s happening now that you’ve clicked that submit button.

Your resume will be reviewed by a real-life human, not a robot (hooray, humans!). If selected for an interview, a recruiter will reach out within two to three weeks to schedule a call or hangout. The goal of the call is to get to know you a little better, tell you about the interview process, and answer any questions you have about DigitalOcean.

If you don’t get selected to move forward, it doesn’t mean you’re not awesome, it just means your particular awesome doesn’t align with the teams needs at this time.

With Love, 
DigitalOcean

Wow. 

This email is a striking example of emotional intelligence in the real world.

“It was human,” Sarah told me in an interview. “A real person wrote this, not a committee or a legal department. It was also humane, kind and sympathetic to the job searcher–a lovely surprise pep talk! It was completely different than the countless automated corporate-speak talent acquisition emails I’ve received from other companies (big and small) throughout my job search.”

Additionally, Sarah appreciated how the email clearly laid out the next steps, and the promise that a real person would review her resume.

Alas, in the end, Sarah didn’t get the job. 

TL;DR – my particular awesome doesn’t align with their needs, but a positive experience nonetheless. This is how it should be done. #jobsearch pic.twitter.com/JH7YA0myUB

— Sarah Patrick (@SBHPatrick) April 24, 2019

But check out the rejection email:

“Hi Sarah, 

Thank you for your interest in working at DigitalOcean. I’m on our recruiting team and had a chance to review your background. I reviewed everything you shared with us, and while we were impressed by your skills and enthusiasm, we will not be moving forward with your application for the director, product marketing role at this time. Well you clearly have amazing product marketing experience, this group is specifically looking for someone very seasoned in marketing to and working with developers. 

We hope you had a positive experience in pursuing this opportunity with us, and we wish you well in your career search.”

“Their rejection email contained specific reasons for not moving me forward for consideration and came from an actual person–both unique qualities at this stage in the process,” Sarah told me.

I really appreciated this point, because it again shows great empathy on the part of DigitalOcean.

Of course, it’s disheartening to get rejected, but by giving specific reasons for the decision, a company can eliminate a lot of guesswork on the part of a candidate. Further, a response like this can even help candidates understand current needs in the market.

While she didn’t get this particular job with DigitalOcean, Sarah’s experiences in the job search (both good and bad) have prompted her to explore recruitment marketing as a potential next step in her career. 

As for the rest of you companies out there, when was the last time a candidate you rejected tweeted positively about you?

Take a page out of DigitalOcean’s playbook, and show a little emotional intelligence:

1. Be human.

2. Put yourself in the shoes of your job candidates.

3. Treat them like you’d like to be treated.

Follow these three simple rules, and you’ll find you’re creating more and more fans of your company–even if they don’t get the job. 

Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com.

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