I got a call the other day from a reader who was devastated. He had applied with the department of his dreams and got rejected. He felt crushed and now wanted to know what his recourse was for this disaster in his life.
First of all, stop and step back. Breathe for a moment, then analyze the situation.
Finding the Cause
Most of the time you will get the 'Dear Applicant' letter from civil service or human resources, which is a boiler plate letter for all. Take a close look and see if the letter lists a person to contact for questions or if there is a review process.
No, I have never heard of any place sending out this application obituary by mistake. But, you do have the right to inquire why you were rejected. Call or follow the recommended procedures. Do not try to personalize this. Remember, this is business—not personal. Remember the person who answers the phone is an employee who does not make the decisions but will direct you to those who can help you. Do not air your vile on them; they just work there.
Once you get a responsible party on the phone, again try to be nice and ask reasonable, professional questions. Just in case you ever reapply, you don't want to be a hothead with them now, because they will remember you later. Additionally, if you are in a metro area, many of the HR types chat with one another; they could give a heads up in a positive or negative about you to their colleagues. Is this supposed to happen? No. Does it happen in reality? It could, so don't risk it.
There's also a possibility that something went wrong with the application itself. Did you fully understand the application process and follow it to the letter of the law? I have seen rejections occur because applications were not filled out properly. Or it could be that accompanying paperwork such as college transcripts did not arrive in time to pair it up with the application. Request a review for the next process. Another example is that there is a difference between a birth registration and a birth certificate. Most agencies will ask for a raised seal copy of a birth certificate. These are not hard to get, but if they ask for that do not think your baptismal certificate will suffice.
Read and heed the directions.
One thing I have seen in life is that there are some brilliant people out there who are not test-takers. If you know you choke on tests, practice and get some help. There are several police test books where you can practice. Do some positive self-talk in preparation. I do not care if you take your pet worry stone in your pocket, just find a way to get positive. Yes, some agencies will bracket the applicants. The first wave to move on with the list are those who got 90 percent and higher. Read the rejection letter. If your score is 87 percent and you will be reconsidered for the next academy or hiring, hang in there.
Physical testing is all together another column in itself. If this is your Armageddon then deal with it. You know what the physical standards are now; get in shape and practice. Good looks and couch potato lifestyles are not going to get you there.
Do Not Quit!
Do not tell me this was your first rejection in life. You have had other failures of some sort or the other. Maybe you didn't make the football team, you didn't get a date for the prom, or whatever. It wasn't the end of the world, and neither is this. Don't quit!
I knew one guy who told the world he was going to work for a certain department. It was the only one he applied to, and he was rejected multiple times. He could have made it at other departments but had painted himself into a corner. He never made it period in law enforcement, even though many (including me) told him to try other agencies. Nope, it was this or nothing, and it would be nothing else for him.
The lesson learned here is sometimes life throws you a curve ball, but you can still make a hit in the profession. Don't walk away after one strike; the game of life is still going on. Get back in the game and try again!
Train with heart and train with your head.