“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” — Groucho Marx

This is an example of what linguists call a “Paraprosdokian” statement…or if not “linguists” then someone with some sort of advanced degree in language arts…

According to Wikipedia:

A paraprosdokian (from Greek “παρα-“, meaning “beyond” and “προσδοκία”, meaning “expectation”) is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.

For those of us in the job search, we experience a form or paraprosdokia with each rejection letter:

Thank you for your interest in XYZ and our recent ABC position. Your background and qualifications are impressive, but after careful consideration, we have decided to pursue another candidate.

This is particularly frustrating when those rare “perfect jobs” come along.  When you read the job description, it looks like your resume. You don’t even have to rework your resume before you send it in…but you still do…just to make sure. Then you hunt down every first, second and third degree LinkedIn connection to that company.  You research them to the nth degree. You informational interview to make sure you understand their culture, their strengths, their weaknesses….you know that company as well as the CEO.

Only to get that “You are awesome…but we found someone even more awesome” email without so much as a phone screen.

You are left scratching your head. Yeah, me too. Been there a couple of times recently.  It is just the nature of the beast.  I have no great advice for you, except to keep circling back to your contacts there just to see if the opportunity might come around again.

It is a bit late for you to do this, but here is something I did recently. I found out that one of those “100% perfect….you can not find another candidate as perfect as I am” jobs has still not been filled.  I’d interviewed for the job but came in third. The hiring manager is still weighing which of the final two candidates will get the job….two months after I interviewed there. So I sent her a Christmas card with a short handwritten message “Merry…. prosperous… signature.” No begging for a job or anything. Just the standard Christmas greeting.

Who knows? If the final two candidates have not been hired yet, maybe the door is open for me. Maybe they are not looking so good after all. For some reason, neither has been hired. I had a Christmas card left over from 10 years ago so all it cost me was a stamp.

In the meantime, here is a little paraprosdokian note for you to use the next time you get the form rejection letter:

Dear [name of the person who signed the rejection letter],

Thank you for your letter of [date of the rejection letter]. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me [employment with your firm / a contract to publish my book].

This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals. Despite [name of the company/school/agency that sent you this letter]’s outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting [applicants / manuscripts], I find that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time.

Therefore, I will initiate [employment/publishing] with your firm immediately following [graduation/job change, etc. – get creative here]. I look forward to working with you.

Best of luck in rejecting future [candidates/manuscripts],

[your name]

Ah, yes…if only the world worked that way.

Fight the urge. Keep it professional. Keep your chin up.

(Rejection Letter was originally posted by Kirk Taylor on the CareerConnections Group Discussion page)
James Snider
Marketing Consultant
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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About jamessnider

James Snider is the Vice President of Business Development for Engstrom Trading, LLC. Engstrom imports products from Scandinavian countries and builds a market for them in the USA and Canada. View all posts by jamessnider

2 responses to “Paraprosdokian

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