Being the person who dashes the hopes an eager job applicant is, without a doubt, the least fun aspect of being a recruiter, hiring manager, or HR generalist. But the writing of an applicant rejection letter shouldn’t have to be painful. But how is that possible?
Mainly it’s possible because you don’t need to include much content – two brief, professionally and politely-written paragraphs are sufficient. There isn’t a lot of work that goes into an applicant rejection letter, just some thought as to what should be included and what should be left out. Let’s review the basics of what’s needed:
1. An opening sentence that thanks the applicant for their interest in the job and company.
2. A second sentence that states that their qualifications were vetted, and that a decision was reached to not move their application forward.
3. A closing sentence that thanks the applicant again, and wishes them the best.
You can use the applicant rejection letter sample below as the basis for your own rejection letter – think of it as a starting-off point for your communication to the applicant you’ll be rejecting. Know, however, that you won’t need to add much (if anything) to the applicant rejection letter you generate since basically all you need are the critical essentials noted in the applicant rejection letter sample below.
Applicant Rejection Letter Sample
330 Mesa Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
1349 Greene Street
Oakland, CA 94577
Re: Your Application for Archival Assistant at Millennium Films
Thank you for applying for the role of Archival Assistant at Millennium Films, and for your patience during the application process.
Please know that your qualifications have been carefully considered, but we have reached a decision to not move your application forward any further in the hiring process.
We greatly appreciate your interest in both the position and Millennium Films. Best of luck in your continuing job search and future endeavors, and long live film!
Want to use this letter?
You’ve likely noticed that the word count on this applicant rejection letter sample is low. After all, you have a straightforward message to get across – thank you for applying but you aren’t the right fit – and there’s no need to include a lot of explanatory language or fluffy filler around that message. What the applicant wants from an applicant rejection letter is clear closure and to know that it is time to move on.
Applicant rejection letters bear disappointing news, which must be delivered. However, the goal is for the rejected applicant to continue their search for a new job with no resentment aimed at your company. Therefore, it’s crucial that you use a gracious tone in your letter.
Note that this applicant rejection letter sample makes zero mention of where the company is in the decision-making process for the job. It also doesn’t mention anything about other applicants, or their credentials. Never add these details to an applicant rejection letter. The information is off-topic and unnecessary.
Let’s go back to the language of the applicant rejection letter. While you might be tempted to recommend that the applicant apply for another job at your company, or to promise you’ll hold on to their resume for future reference, these statements might be a mistake. Reconsider doing this unless you are nearly certain that the applicant might be perfect for another role at your company. You don’t want to get the rejected applicant’s hopes up, only to have to let them down again.
If you are uncertain about any of the language in your applicant rejection letter, have your legal department take a look. You don’t want to send out a letter that contains language that could land your company in hot water. It’s highly doubtful that anything you write in an applicant rejection letter could bring you to that point, but still – play it safe and have your legal department review your letter for any signs of discriminatory language.