Once you’ve selected the top candidates you want to move on to the next phase of the hiring process, there’s another important step you need to take: sending a rejection letter to the applicants who were not selected. When you’ve decided not to move forward with a candidate, sending a rejection letter is a polite way of keeping an applicant from wondering where they stand, and can help ensure applicants retain a favourable impression of your brand.
According to an Indeed survey, 53% of job seekers in Canada say that hearing back promptly from the company once they apply is important for them to develop a feeling of connection or camaraderie with the company.* Additionally, if a candidate is highly skilled but not the best fit for the role you’re currently filling, a rejection letter is an excellent opportunity to let them know you’re impressed with their background and would like them to apply in the future.
Here are a few tips on how to write a job rejection letter:
1. Personalize your letter.
While you might use a standard template for all rejection letters, take time to tailor it to the candidate by including their name, the position and something you recall from your conversations – like something unique from the applicant’s professional or educational background. While you might use a standard template for all rejection letters, take time to tailor it to the candidate by including their name, the position and something you recall from your conversations – like something unique from the applicant’s professional or educational background. For example: “We were impressed with your experience of launching your own business.” Or, “It’s always great to meet a fellow UBC alum!”
2. Keep it concise:
It’s essential you get to the point as quickly as possible. Don’t make the applicant read through several paragraphs of praise for their skills and experience only to discover they haven’t been selected to move forward. Be respectful of their time and share the news early in the letter.
3. Be professional and considerate.
While it’s likely the applicant will be disappointed no matter how you frame the rejection, using professionalism and consideration can diminish any negativity they may feel toward you or the company. Consider using the “Sandwich Method” where you deliver less welcome news between two positive messages. For example, you might start by letting the applicant know you’re impressed by a specific skill or experience, tell them you’ve chosen to move forward with another candidate and then finish by thanking them for their time and wishing them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
4. Send it as soon as possible.
According to an Indeed survey, 36% of job seekers say it takes up to two weeks to hear back from an employer after applying for a job, and 76% say that if they don’t hear back at all after applying, their perception of a company becomes slightly or significantly more negative. The bottom line: Send the rejection letter as soon as you’ve made the decision. Applicants are likely anxious to hear from you – especially if they’ve already come in for an interview. By quickly offering your response, you can end the uncomfortable waiting period and stand out as an organization that cares about the applicant experience. Often a rejection letter will give an applicant the nudge they need to explore other, better-suited opportunities.
Example rejection letter
To help you put together your template, here is a rejection letter sample using all of the tips mentioned above.
Thank you so much for your interest in the Marketing Manager role here at ABC Company, and for taking the time to come in and meet with the team last week.
It’s always great to meet a fellow UBC alum! While we were all impressed with your skill set and knowledge, we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate who has more leadership experience. However, we feel you’re an excellent culture fit and encourage you to apply for other positions that will be available in the marketing department in the coming months.
Thank you again for the time you invested in applying and interviewing for this role. We wish you the best of luck in your job search and all future endeavors.
A good rejection letter informs candidates that they will not be moving on to the next phase of the hiring process without ruining applicants’ impression of your company. By keeping the letter personal, concise, considerate and sending it as quickly as possible, you can ensure the experience is as positive as possible.
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*Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed (Worldwide)