The Hard Part of Hiring: Rejection Letters

If you’re in a desirable industry or tight job market, you may find that you are swamped with applicants for any position you open for hiring. In addition to figuring out who will be the most successful candidate, and extending an offer, you will also need to communicate with many ultimately unsuccessful candidates. How you reject these applicants can be an opportunity to enhance your company’s goodwill and reputation.

Who should I send rejection letters to?

You should, at the very minimum, send rejection letters to anyone you’ve had personal contact with. As difficult and overwhelming as hiring the right candidate is, it’s equally frustrating for applicants to interview with a great company and never hear anything thereafter.

For applicants who never reach the interview phase, it’s still kind to send a polite e-mail declination – and it’s a gesture that can set your company apart from many others and build goodwill for your business. If you set up a workflow to manage applications, you can send that email to all rejected candidates with just a few clicks. Even if you manually enter addresses, you can prepare a mass email to hundreds of people within a few minutes. (Set this up as an email to yourself, using the “blind carbon copy” function to list the addresses so the recipients can’t see the other addressees.)

What should I say – or not say?

Your letter to candidates whom you did not have personal contact with should be short and simple. Thank them for their application and state that you are not considering them for the position. You don’t need to explain any further. You can set up a workflow to manage sending this via email from an undisclosed or separate email address.

For candidates who have advanced farther in the process, you can choose to be more verbose while still being discreet. Thank them for their interest in the position, and their time and effort in the interview process. You can compliment a strength they showed specifically, or their achievements generally. You shouldn’t feel obligated to let them know why they weren’t chosen for the position. Choose language like “we were impressed with your qualifications and enjoyed meeting you, but we regret we cannot offer you a position with ABC Company at this time.”

If you liked the candidate and would like to consider him or her for a position with your company in the future, you can express that, too – whether you’ll keep his application on file, or whether you would encourage him to apply for the next opening when it occurs.

It’s a good idea to have an attorney look over your rejection letters if you’re including anything more than boilerplate language. You don’t want to hint that there may be any sort of improper motive for your rejection that could form the basis for a lawsuit or complaint, nor do you want to accidentally imply any kind of job offer or promise of employment.

Taking the time to respond to applications is a small step that is frequently forgotten or dismissed in today’s online, anonymous world of job searching. Showing kindness and respect to candidates in this way can make a big impression and enhance your company’s reputation in the community.

StarGarden integrated HCM software can help simplify every step of the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding process. For other hiring tips and advice, download our complimentary eBook – just click the link below.

How to Succeed in Hiring