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The Meaning Behind "Resume on File"

The Meaning Behind "Resume on File"

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

In most of the jobs where I’ve been interviewed and rejected the rejection letter says something like “We will hold on to your resume and contact you if we ever have any jobs that meets your needs” or something like this. Is this just being polite or is it possible that some time down the road they will actually contact me with an offer?

Well, it’s highly unlikely they’ll contact you out of the blue with an offer. But they might contact you with an invitation to apply for another position.

That said, this statement has become part of the standard pablum that a lot of companies include in their rejection letters and, more often than not, has little meaning. On the other hand, some companies do mean it and do search previously submitted resumes looking for well-matched candidates when they have new openings.

So the answer is unsatisfying: Sometimes they mean it and sometimes they don’t.

(For what it’s worth, I think the phrase has become so meaningless that I’ve started saying this in the rejection letter I send to candidates who I think would be promising for the future, since I want them to know I really mean it: “We are keeping your materials on file and will notify you about future openings that seem like they might be a good fit. We only keep on file the materials of strong candidates, so please take this as an indicator of our interest in talking further with you in the future.”)

But either way, I would put them out of your mind and move on. If they do contact you in the future, let it be a pleasant surprise, rather than something you wait for (as it may never happen, no matter what their intentions).

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