You remember what it’s like: you’ve just received verbal confirmation that you got the job you want, and you’re both excited and anxious. But before you can really celebrate and truly relax, you feel you need to get it in writing.
While many companies fail to send rejection letters, candidates appreciate receiving such feedback because it acknowledges their effort, makes them feel considered, ends the anxiety of living in limbo, and even helps them better prepare for future applications. Taking this step is therefore vital to upholding your reputation as an attractive place to work.
This letter should be sent timeously, as soon as you have confirmation that the applicant will not be moving forward in the process. If the jobseeker has progressed to the final interview round and invested much time, following the letter with a phone call is recommended.
As illustrated by the letter of refusal sample below, it’s best practice to keep communication polite yet firm and unambiguous – don’t give false hope or leave anything open. What’s more, don’t waffle or divulge too much information. Show appreciation for the candidate’s attempt; acknowledge that you understand it’s disappointing news; offer a legally compliant reason for refusal; and wish the person well.
Letter of Refusal Sample
February 15, 2017
35 San Juan Avenue
Simpsonville, SC 29680
Re: Your application for the position of Marketing Manager at Techni Network
Dear Maya Robertson,
We at Techni Network would like to thank you for taking the time to interview for the senior position of Marketing Manager. We enjoyed learning more about you and the interesting roles you’ve worked in around the country, and we appreciate your patience and willingness to answer our many questions.
We considered your strengths and skills carefully, but we’ve decided to move forward with a candidate who we feel is a better fit. We will therefore not be asking you to attend the final round of interviews.
We would like to keep your resume on file should any other opportunities present themselves in the near future. Please let us know if you’d be interested in hearing about such opportunities.
Thank you again for your interest in working for Techni Network. We wish you luck in all your future career endeavors and hope you find a suitable position swiftly.
Human Resource Manager
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As you can see, the letter of refusal sample above is aimed at applicants who have attended at least one interview, but it can be tweaked for jobseekers who apply but don’t make it to the interview stage at all.
It addresses the applicant by name and references a unique detail about her (the fact that she’s worked in interesting roles around the country) so that she feels personally acknowledged. The reason given for rejection is legally sound and does not in any way personally offend or attack the candidate. The wording also doesn’t leave any room for misinterpretation, clearly stating that “We will therefore not be asking you to attend the final round of interviews”.
Note that the tone is polite and empathic (you can see the letter is written by a human), but not overly apologetic – there’s no “We’re so sorry”. It’s also not too detached or too informal, and in this way respects the significance of the letter’s content to the candidate.
In this case, the letter of refusal sample does offer some hope by stating that the company would like to keep the candidate’s resume on file. However, it also makes it clear that this is not a guarantee and is based on the company’s discretion. Such a proposal should only be made if you honestly intend to consider the jobseeker for another role.