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Candidate Rejection Emails: How To Get Them Right

Taking the time to compose and send rejection emails to job candidates is a sound business practice for hiring managers. A timely, personalized letter allows you to extend professional courtesy while building goodwill and vetting candidates for future positions. Establishing this as an integral part of the hiring process can actually make future hiring easier and more efficient by keeping qualified candidates in the loop while discouraging re-application from unqualified job seekers.

A Matter of Respect

Although no one likes rejection, the uncertainty of not knowing if you got the job is much worse. Good candidate communication is critical. By informing a candidate that they did not make the cut, you are allowing them to move on with their job search instead of wasting time holding out for a position in your company. The rejection email should be sent as soon as you are certain that you will proceed further with other candidates. After all, applicants for the same job may very well know each other. Thus, informing everyone at the same time of their hiring status lends credibility to you and your company. Sending a rejection email or decline letter too soon can make a candidate feel ostracized and prematurely informed – questioning the soundness of your interview and decision-making processes. Not only should you make every effort to give all candidates the diligence and attention they deserve, but also avoid sending a rejection email or letter the same day as the interview and until you are confident about your decision.

The Ultimate Public Relations Strategy

By practicing this professional courtesy, you are helping to maintain and even improve the positive perception of your company. The rejected candidate may be qualified for a future position, and may even be a current or future customer. Make the rejection email polite, professional and to the point. A long drawn out explanation will only make the experience worse, so efficiency of phrasing is key. In many cases, the reason may be a mismatch in the requirements of the position and the qualifications of the candidate. Personalizing the letter will help them see you in a more gregarious light. While most rejection emails or regret letters are pretty standard – it doesn’t hurt to take an extra minute to tailor the rejection email letter to the individual. Aside from using their name in the greeting, you should take a moment to mention a few positive things that you observed about about the candidate during the interview. You can even say “we were impressed by your experience” or “your skill set may be of value to us at a later time.” It is important to be sincere, however, because giving a candidate false hope through empty platitudes in a rejection email can negatively impact your employer brand.

Setting a Tone of Integrity

Reaching out to a job candidate with a rejection email helps build a relationship based on honesty and integrity, setting a professional tone in case the relationship continues in the future. This also provides the candidate an opportunity to showcase their professional demeanor with an appropriate reply. A concise, respectful answer to your rejection email can show you that these candidates know how to conduct themselves in a professional manner — even when confronted with bad news. If they reply with language that is tinged with anger, contempt or sarcasm – it’s quite likely that this applicant has some issues with your company and could be a problem if hired in the future. However, do not expect a reply from most rejection letters. This aspect applies to a smaller percentage of people who are either thorough communicators or passive aggressive types. Valuable information either way.

Paying Yourself Forward

A qualified candidate who barely lost out to someone with just a bit more experience is a valuable future asset. Keeping that person’s resume on file and your name in their good graces can make filling another position that much easier. When an opening becomes available, you can save yourself hours of time interviewing new candidates by simply pulling up a saved file and contacting the individual. Conversely, you can avoid sifting through the same unqualified candidates again and again by some strategic wording in a rejection letter. By explaining in your rejection email that a candidate needs to acquire certain skills or must have certain qualifications or X amount of experience before they can even be considered for employment, you can help them improve their skills and chances in their search process. It may also prevent them from jamming up your future hiring campaigns with redundant applications.

Sending Rejection Emails: Time Well Spent

As a hiring manager, it is your job to establish and maintain relationships with the most important pool of resources: people. Communicating with candidates via well-worded rejection emails allows you to manage public perception of the business while maintaining positive relationships with applicants who could become valuable assets in the future. With Simplicant’s recruitment management software, all communication with candidates, including rejection emails, can be timed, customized and generated automatically as the statuses of applicants change and they progress through your hiring funnel.

Image: Courtesy WolfPack Success

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