Work is busy and when you are slammed with 100+ resumes for every job listing that you post, it is tempting to let the polite, caring touches go by the wayside. Don't do it. Your job applicants deserve your consideration. This means that they deserve your cordial communication at each step of the recruitment, including rejection letters.
Your reputation, that is built one candidate at a time, is crucial for your success in recruiting outstanding candidates in the future. If an employee, with needed, scarce skills, is selecting between employment offers, he or she will go with the organization that is known as an employer of choice.
In this day of social and professional networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, it's difficult for an employer to hide. Salaries are regularly compared online and candidates can check out your reputation as an employer at websites like Glassdoor.com.
Your job applicants make decisions about you as an employer based on the treatment that they receive from you. Make that treatment rate you among the desirable employers, an employer of choice.
In my book, failing to send rejection letters, at each step of your recruitment process, is disrespectful and rude. Your applicants have invested time in your organization and deserve cordial, informative treatment.
Use a Rejection Letter Template
Use this rejection letter template to develop and write your own rejection letters.
Start with the applicant’s address from his or her resume, as you would with any formal business letter if you plan to mail the rejection letter. In an email, your approach may be more informal.
Use a standard salutation. For example: Dear John.
The first sentence of your rejection letter should, in some way, thank the applicant for coming in for the interview.
Example: We appreciate your interest in our company and the time you spent with our interview team. If the applicant is being rejected after applying, but prior to an interview, this letter can be simple.
Example: Thank you for taking the time to apply for our (name of position) job opening.
Reason for the Rejection
The second paragraph of your rejection letter should state the reason for the rejection. You need to carefully craft this statement as it can easily be misinterpreted. It can also cause you heartache if it is used as the basis for legal action in the future. Discrimination in any aspect of the employment relationship from recruitment on can be the basis for legal action.
Recently, it came to my attention that stating that the employer had found other, more qualified candidates, was a practice to avoid. Apparently, lawyers warn that the candidate could request to assess the qualifications of every other applicant for your job listing for comparison. You don’t want to open your company to hours of fulfilling subpoenas and filing court documents nor open up your recruitment process to unnecessary scrutiny.
Example: We have selected another applicant for our open position.
Conclude the Rejection Letter
Use the final paragraph or two of the rejection letter to list next steps, encourage the applicant to apply in the future, or simply, cordially sign off. When rejecting an applicant before an interview, thank the applicant for his or her interest in your company. If the applicant appeared qualified for jobs that open in your organization, encourage the applicant to apply again. If the applicant did not have the qualifications or experience you typically seek, keep your thank you simple and straightforward.
Example: Once again, thank you for taking the time to send your resume and cover letter for consideration for our position of (name of job). You have not been selected for an interview at this time.
Example: Once again, thank you for coming in for the interview. We enjoyed meeting you and learning about your experience and interests. While you were not selected for this position, we encourage you to apply again in the future for openings that match your qualifications.
Sign the Rejection Letter
The hiring manager, the company owner in a small business, or the Human Resources staff person working on the recruitment should sign the rejection letter and provide their title and contact information. If you use a team to interview employees, especially after team members met the applicant, the signature can say on behalf of the interview team.
Use this rejection letter template to formulate your own rejection letters at each stage of your recruitment process. Your applicants will appreciate your thoughtfulness and you will build your reputation as an employer of choice.
Disclaimer – Please Note:
Susan Heathfield makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice both on this website, and linked to from this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality, and is not to be construed as legal advice.
The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. The information on this site is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only.
Standard Application Acknowledgement Letter
More About Sample Candidate Rejection Letters
- See a standard applicant rejection letter that you use to respond to applicants who are not as qualified as the applicants you decide to interview.
- See another sample, simple rejection letter sample for applicants whom you reject without an interview.
- Here is another sample rejection letter for applicants whom you choose not to invite for an interview.
- Here is a sample rejection letter for a candidate who did not appear to be a good fit for your company culture.
- See another sample rejection letter for use when youâ€™d like the candidate to interview for a different job in your company.
- Here is a sample rejection letter for a candidate you hope applies again in the future: good cultural fit.
- Find another sample rejection letter for an applicant whom you hope reapplies in the future.
- This is a rejection letter for a candidate who was not selected following a first interview.
- Find a sample rejection letter for a candidate who is rejected following an interview.
- Here is a sample rejection letter for a candidate who was not selected following a second interview.
- Find out more about how to write job candidate rejection letters.
Letters for Successful Candidates
What if the candidate you are contacting was successful in his or her application? Following are sample job offer letters to let the candidate know the good news.
Sample Job Offer Letters
- Sample Employment Offer Letter (Standard Early-to-Mid-Career)
- Early Career: Sample Job Offer Letter
- Mid-Career Sample Job Offer Letter
- Executive Sample Job Offer Letter
- Sales Representative Sample Job Offer Letter
- Generic or Standard Sample Job Offer Letter