On rejection

Audree Fletcher
2 min readDec 6, 2021


Image of a green road sign with “rejection just ahead” written on it in bold white lettering. Stormy clouds are in the sky.

Hewlett Packard once conducted a study that concluded that women only apply for a job when they meet 100% of the criteria for it, though men will put their applications in at just 60%. Numerous studies have confirmed that pattern since.

So chances are that — if you’re a woman or non-binary person — you are eminently qualified for the jobs you apply for.

Indeed, many of you are overqualified for them, but still many of us don’t want to put ourselves out there only to fail, and so we don’t do apply when we should.

I get it. Rejection hurts.

But I don’t think it makes sense to see it as rejection. Unless the hiring manager would rather hire no-one than hire you, you’re not being rejected: they’re just hiring someone else.

As a hiring manager myself, I know that a recruiter might see a dozen or more candidates (sifted from an even larger pool). Though it’s a jobseekers’ market right now, it’s still a very liquid market— so employers are typically seeing large numbers of applications. Sometimes from people as talented as you.

You have no idea who you were up against. You don’t know who was given the job. It makes no sense to assume the recruiting manager was rejecting you -and it makes much more sense (not least for your confidence) to assume that the recruiting manager simply said “yes” to someone else. Hopefully someone more qualified than already-qualified-you, someone whose experience was a slightly better match, someone whose presentation/panel interview/whatever was just that little bit more awesome than yours.

So don’t give up hope. Don’t wait for something you think you’re even more overqualified for. Keep on applying, keep plugging away. Because it’s a numbers game. If you don’t apply, you’ll never know if you would have been the successful applicant.

And hiring managers — when you’re turning down an applicant, please take the time to explain why. Otherwise catastrophised explanations appear in the vacuum, and your silence will have cruelly and unnecessarily set their confidence and their progression back.



Audree Fletcher

Leader — digital/product/service design/research/strategy — and mother