Automated responses and burning bridges… both have a place

Today I decided to get rid of some drafts.  I was so pleased to hit post #100 last month but last night when I got home from watching Deadpool I noticed that my drafts were over 100 too.  That can’t be good.


I own my own contracting business in the IT industry.  When I am not under contract or employed by a company, I track down my own projects to keep me busy and feed all those kids that haven’t escaped yet.

I am always on the lookout for three kinds of work…

  1. projects through headhunters where I contract out my own company for anywhere from 3 months to a year
  2. projects through my own business, these can range from a day to a month, not often much longer
  3. a full time role with a great company that meets my five career requirements

I have never gotten a ton of roles from head hunters but the ones I did get were extremely rewarding so I never wanted to burn any bridges with them… until now.

White Keyboard with Headhunting Button.

I am looking for more work in probably the worst economy in Alberta in 30 years so things are not great to start with.  An opportunity came up that I considered as perfect as anything could be… if not the most challenging role, I figured I would be a shoe-in for an interview.  Then I got this response…

Dear Shayne,

Thank your for your interest in a career with (headhunter name). We have reviewed your application to (some job number and job name). After careful consideration and assessment, we will be proceeding with other applicants whose skills more closely align to the requirements of this position. Your resume and profile will continue to reside in our database. We encourage you to update your profile and visit our website regularly to view new opportunities here at (headhunter name). We appreciate your interest in (headhunter name) and wish you well in your career search.

Kind regards,
(headhunter name)

Considering that my resume was so perfectly tailored to this posting that I expected them to ask questions about whether I made stuff up, I was shocked at this response. So is it possible that they actually received a resume more closely fitting what they asked for? Possibly.

Is it possible that they already had a candidate in mind or were sticking with an incumbent no matter what other headhunters provided?  Probably.


Does this bother me?  Absolutely not.  I am sure that my resume doesn’t even get looked at for over half of the headhunter roles I submit it for but I don’t often get responses from applications and when I do, I don’t expect them to lie.  I did assume that this auto-responder lied.  Is that enough to burn a bridge with them?  Let us pretend that I was having an off moment.

If the resume I sent you for that (job name) posting didn’t even get me to a short list for an interview then I would have to believe that I didn’t make the cut due to something that had nothing to do with skills or experience or that you already had a candidate chosen from an incumbent or something.

If this is a canned response for such cases, you should probably change it as it sends the wrong message. I am assuming now that there is a slim chance that you will ever have a posting that will fit what I am looking for or that I can’t trust your auto-responses. You looking at my resume and me checking your site once a month will probably be a waste of both our times.

Thanks for the offer to hold my resume but you can remove me from your database.

Thanks and have a great day,

(My Name)


Now I have no regrets, but at the same time, I didn’t consider the response to be my most professional moment.  I should not have sent it but I am glad that I did.  It is confusing, I know, but it made me smile and smiles are my greatest measurement of happiness.

A word of caution to you if you set up automated responses to clients or customers… make sure that they are truthful or generic enough that they can’t be misconstrued.  Although I really liked that this company sent out something, I definitely felt like I was deceived in some way and that left a sour taste in my mouth for working with that company.

Did I burn that bridge?  With a liberal dose of napalm.


If I had to choose between not receiving anything and receiving a notification that my resume was tossed for some bogus reason, I would take nothing.  Ten years ago I might have chosen differently but so few people respond in today’s world that the responses get read much more closely.

A decade ago everyone send a response for each application, the first line usually started with “We regret to inform…”, actually I don’t even know what the letter said because I rarely got past those first four words.  Today, when I get a response back I read it a few times to see if there was a clue to help my next opportunity get me closer to nailing the perfect contract… but that is another blog post in this pile of drafts…



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