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Writing rejection emails to unsuccessful candidates

If you are like most people, you prefer delivering good news rather than bad news. However, when you are recruiting for an open position on your team, you will have to send more rejection emails than offers. 

Learning how to write a good rejection email can help make this awkward interaction easier on you and the unsuccessful candidates who applied.

Why you should send unsuccessful candidates rejection emails

First, it is helpful to understand why you should send rejection emails at all. Research suggests that more than half of job candidates have to wait weeks or more to get a response from prospective employers. Some never hear anything. This makes them feel disrespected and as if their time has been wasted.

Sending a rejection email is a nice way to recognize unsuccessful candidates and all the effort they put into applying. It also prevents them from having to wait around while wondering what will happen next. Your rejection email can also be a chance to encourage them to apply again if you want them to.

In short, sending unsuccessful candidates rejection emails makes the experience more positive for them. Not only is this the kind thing to do, but it is also suitable for your business. 

Candidates who have a positive relationship with employers are more likely to apply to future open positions, refer friends, and write positive reviews on websites such as Glassdoor. In other words, you are expanding your future hiring pool by sending rejection emails.

Tips for sending better rejections emails

Sending a rejection email is always a good thing. However, sending the well-written email is even better. Many recruiters make the mistake of sending cold and mechanical emails. These are some tips for making your emails warmer and more human:

  • Thank them: It is common courtesy to thank unsuccessful candidates for their applications. Consider expanding on this by thanking them for considering you (hiring is a two-way street). Also, acknowledge the time and effort they put in.
  • Make it personal: Whenever possible, make the email a little personal. Consider including a brief note referencing the conversation and highlighting a strength the person demonstrated.
  • Provide feedback: Offer some helpful feedback on why the person was not accepted. Ideally, this should be specific, constructive, and actionable. Providing even basic explanations can make the rejections more satisfying than merely telling unsuccessful candidates that they didn’t get the job.
  • Encourage future applications: If the person was the right candidate, encourage him or her to apply again. Consider making this more positive by writing something such as, “we hope you will be open to us reaching out about other opportunities.” This is a great way to make the email more positive.

Examples of great emails to unsuccessful candidates

Following the above tips will help to make your rejection emails more effective. Below are some examples of well-written rejection emails to unsuccessful candidates that you can use as inspirations.

Rejection email to a candidate who was a good fit

Hi Jane,

We really appreciate you applying to the Marketing Manager position at ABC Corporation. We know that many companies are hiring, and thank you for taking the time to visit us and interview with our team.

At this time, we have chosen to move forward with a different candidate whose experience more closely matches our needs. We were very impressed by your in-depth knowledge of our product line and believe you would have made a great fit with our culture. Ultimately, the decision came down to the other candidate having a little more leadership experience.

We expect to have other positions open soon in our marketing department. We hope that you will not mind us reaching out about any openings that we feel you would be a good fit for. Additionally, we encourage you to apply to any positions you are interested in.

The best of luck with your search. We know that you will make a great team member wherever you end up.

Warm regards,

John Doe

Marketing Director

Rejection email to a candidate who was not a good fit

Hi Jane,

We appreciate you applying to the Marketing Manager position at ABC Corporation. We know that many companies are hiring, and thank you for taking the time to visit us and interview with our team.

Although you have some great skills and experience, we have decided to move forward with a different candidate whose experience more closely matches our needs.

Again, we really appreciate your time and effort. If you would appreciate additional feedback, please don’t hesitate to ask.

The best of luck with your search.

Warm Regards,

John Doe

Marketing Director

Key takeaways from these examples

The above two rejection email examples apply some of the aforementioned tips. While unsuccessful candidates will always be disappointed, that doesn’t mean that the rejection email needs to be devastating.

In the example for a good candidate, the hiring manager highlighted a specific strength (that she had done significant research into the product line). He also made clear that the reason for selecting another candidate was because of the other applicant’s leadership experience.

Following this by encouraging future applications also helps keep the door open. Since she was a good candidate, the hiring manager indicates that he is considering reaching out about other openings. This is more positive than merely asking the person to check back for other opportunities. However, you should only include this type of language if you mean it.

He also concludes with a positive note that she will make a good fit somewhere. While this isn’t going to salve the wound from rejection completely, it does help.

The example for the poorly fit candidate is shorter and more to the point. As with any other type of communication, it is best to say less when you don’t have positive things to say. There is no reason to kick the candidate when he or she is already down.

The hiring manager thanked the candidate in the same language as the first example. Regardless of whether someone was a good candidate or not, he or she put time and effort into applying, and that deserves gratitude. Conversely, the explanation is much shorter because the hiring manager has less to say.

Additionally, the hiring manager offers a chance to get some additional feedback. This is not necessary and should only be offered if you genuinely want to be helpful. 

However, this can be a best practice when hiring. Providing feedback gives a good image of your company.

By offering a chance for feedback rather than just giving it, the hiring manager puts the control in the candidate’s hands. If he or she does not need to hear why the interview went poorly, he or she doesn’t have to.

The value of better recruitment

Talent is one of the most valuable resources for any organization. After all, it is the people working on your team that make it successful. Improving your recruitment processes can help you to accelerate your business’s success.

Sending well-written and construction emails to unsuccessful candidates is a good way to enhance your recruitment efforts. Another way is to use Recruitee. This talent acquisition platform will help you organize and streamline your recruitment processLearn more about how Recruitee can help your team today.

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