Polite Job Rejection Email: Template included

Written by

Lisa Gonzalez

· Last updated on

January 17, 2024

Rejection is never easy – even when you’re on the other end of it, giving the rejection. This is especially true when you are the one tasked with writing and sending out a job rejection email to a prospective candidate. 

You may think, why bother? It’s not like anyone wants to receive a job rejection email. However, there are several beneficial reasons why you should send them out. 

But first, here is some important information to know about applicants, so you can up your recruiting game.

A Few Statistics to Know Regarding Job Candidates

According to one study, a corporate job can attract around 250 prospective candidates. Of the 250 resumes a company receives, only 4 to 6 of the 250 candidates will be interviewed, and only one will be offered the job. 

One statistic shows that 64% of job seekers take the time to research a company online before applying for a job listing with them. If there is no information about the company online, then 37% of the candidates will move on and look for another job opening. Therefore, it is important to have relevant information that potential candidates can find online about your company. 

This information can include positive reviews about your company, not only from happy employees, but also from rejected candidates. But why would a rejected candidate write positively about a company that turned them down? Simple: a company took the time to write a polite job rejection letter.

Why It is a Good Idea to Send Out a Polite Job Rejection Letter

While it may seem like a waste of time to send out a job rejection letter, it can be very beneficial for your company.

Although only one candidate will ultimately get the job – or a few, if your company is hiring multiple candidates – you can still create a positive candidate experience for the multitude who will be rejected. Creating a positive candidate experience can:

  • Create a positive reputation for your company
  • Attract valuable candidates 
  • Help company retention
  • Increase brand awareness

Writing and sending out polite job rejection letters is one way to generate a positive candidate experience. With websites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed, it is easier than ever for candidates to review your company. A positive candidate experience ensures that your company is generating positive feedback. Candidates often explore job openings or check out company reviews, so you want to be sure you are not missing out on top talent due to negative reviews left by disgruntled candidates who had a negative candidate experience. 

According to Glassdoor statistics, 46% of their members turn to reviews posted on Glassdoor’s website before applying to any company. This means your company will attract more potential candidates the more positive reviews you have, allowing you to choose from a larger pool of qualified candidates. 

Writing a polite job rejection letter can also:

  • Create a positive experience for the candidate receiving the rejection
  • Have a positive impact on your business
  • Encourage the candidate to apply for future open positions
  • Encourage the candidate to refer friends to your business
  • Expand your future hiring pool

5 Helpful Tips to Keep in Mind When Writing Job Rejection Letters

It is tough to receive job rejection emails, so incorporate a few key principles into your rejection email to soften the blow. So before delving into the general format of a polite job rejection letter, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind: 

  • Be empathetic: In any hard situation, conveying empathy is important. Put yourself in the applicant’s shoes: how would you feel if you were receiving a rejection letter? How would you want someone to break the news that you were not chosen for the job you want? It does not take a lot to convey empathy, and it can go a long way in fostering a favorable impression for your company.  
  • Thank them for their time: It is common courtesy to thank candidates, even if they are unsuccessful, for the time and effort they have put into applying for your job opening. You can even take it a step further and thank them for considering you to be their next company. 
  • Be personable: Adding personal touches, such as addressing them by their names, can add a more human touch to your email so the candidate does not feel as if they received an email from a robot. You can also reference strengths in their resumes or a conversation piece in their job interview if they make it that far into the process. 
  • Offer helpful feedback: Constructive feedback can help a candidate understand why they did not get the job. Applicants are sure to appreciate helpful comments and use them to better themselves.
  • Be positive: This can be as simple as encouraging the candidate to apply again for a different role or wishing them luck in their future endeavors. Incorporating positivity into your rejection email will end your letter on a high note.

The 3 Different Types of Job Rejection Letters to Send

So you need to write a polite job rejection letter, but it is not always a one-size-fits-all type of work. There are different stages in the hiring process, with candidates devoting different amounts of time and effort to join your company, and your letter should reflect that.

While all your rejection letters should incorporate the principles listed above, some letters will be more personable than others depending on how far the candidate made it into the hiring process. 

Here are the best ways to send out a rejection letter depending on which stage of the hiring process you are at:

1. Post-Application Email Template

Applications are the beginning of the hiring process. Perhaps the candidate did not have the skills or job experience required for the job they are applying for, or perhaps they simply did not feel like a right fit for your company. Whatever the reason, it can be easy to dismiss the candidates in this early stage without a job rejection email since neither you nor the candidate is too invested at the moment. However, it is still good form to send out a rejection email and can still do your company good.

Since the candidate is likely not too invested in your company yet, a brief but polite job rejection email should suffice for those you reject at this stage. While a post-application rejection may still be disappointing, it won’t be as discouraging as a rejection at a later stage in the hiring process. 

For this rejection email, it is a good idea to start with the candidate’s first name, incorporating the personable tip mentioned earlier. Thank them for applying for the role you are hiring for at your business. 

The next few lines can be dedicated to any custom remarks regarding their resume, followed closely by letting them know that you cannot move forward with their application at this time. Encourage them to reapply to another relevant listing at your company, and end the letter by thanking them for their time. You may also wish them luck in their job search. Sign off with your name, and you have your post-application job rejection email. 

Here is a couple beginner templates you can use as a reference when preparing your job rejection email:

Version one:

Dear [candidate’s first name],

Thank you for considering [company’s name]. We appreciate the time you have invested in applying to our [role title] opening. Unfortunately, we cannot move forward with your application at this time. You are always welcome to apply for another relevant listing at [company], and we hope you will keep us in mind for the future.

Thank you for the time and effort you put into applying for our position. We wish you luck with your job search and your professional goals. 

Best regards,
[Your name]

Version two:

Dear [candidate’s first name],

Thank you for your interest in [company’s name]. We sincerely appreciate the time and effort you dedicated to applying for the [Role Title] opening. However, after careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we are unable to proceed with your application at this time.

We genuinely appreciate your commitment and enthusiasm in pursuing a career with us. We wish you the best of luck in your job search and trust that you will achieve great success in your future endeavours.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

These templates are simple but effective, and it can be expanded upon as needed.

2. Post-Screening Email Template

Screening is usually the next step in the hiring process, so post-screening is the next stage where you will need a polite job rejection email for all the candidates who did not make the cut.

While applications are the beginning stages of the job search or hiring process, screening is in the intermediate stages. For the candidates, being rejected at this point of the hiring process may feel like a crushing blow or will lead to more feelings of disappointment than a simple application rejection. They have put a decent amount of time and effort into your company at this point, taking pre-assessment tests, answering phone calls, sending out sample works, or whatever is required by your company at this stage. 

Since candidates will be more disappointed to hear bad news about their application at this stage, your email rejection must be polite and thoughtful. It should:

  • Start personalized with their first name 
  • Thank them for the steps they have taken in the post-screening stage
  • Offer praise for their skills
  • Break the rejection news gently
  • Encourage them to reapply at an applicable listing in the future
  • Thank them for their time and effort
  • Sign off with your name

The template included above works just as well in this stage of a job rejection email. You can expand upon the template by including more personable feedback on the applicant’s skills.

3. Post-Interview Email Template

Finally, there is the interview stage in the hiring process, the most advanced stage and usually the final step before landing the job. 

At this stage, candidates will have invested a lot of time and effort into getting hired by your company, trying to anticipate your interview questions, practicing their answers, and pitching their greatest skills and qualities. The candidate is likely also feeling more confident at this stage, pleased that they have made it this far in the hiring process. So it can be a severe blow to one’s confidence and morale when they are expecting to be hired, only to be met with a job rejection email at this final and crucial stage.

While it will not take away the harsh blow of not landing the job, a polite and empathetic post-interview rejection email can do wonders for a candidate’s ego. It can also mean the difference between the candidate applying for a role in your company that is more suited to their skills in the future, and the candidate giving up on your company altogether. 

Here is the best way to write a job rejection email for someone in the post-interview stage:

  • Address the candidate: As always, you will want to start personally by addressing them by their first name. 
  • First paragraph: For this paragraph, you will want to thank them for the interview. You can also mention how you enjoyed talking to them. 
  • Second paragraph: This paragraph should be dedicated to their strengths or experience that stood out to you most, whether it was a project they undertook at another company, their work ethic, or their dedication. This paragraph can also be dedicated to any constructive feedback you may have for the candidate. You will close out this paragraph with the rejection, or how you cannot move forward with them at this time. 
  • Third paragraph: Mention that you decided to go with another candidate and why you went with that specific candidate. Did the candidate you choose have the most experience out of all the others, did they have a skill the others did not have, or did they simply seem like a better fit for the company? Explaining why you went with one candidate over the other can help the rejected applicant better understand why they were not hired. This feedback also serves as a learning experience for them and can help them with future job interviews.
  • Closeout: Like the post-application and post-interview job rejection emails, you will want to encourage them to apply for future listings, thank them for their time and effort, and finally sign off with your name. 

Again, the template included above works as a good starter for a job rejection email at this stage in the hiring process. To expand upon the template, incorporate the praise and constructive feedback in an effective and personable manner. The post-interview stage in the hiring process is a critical juncture, where candidates have invested significant time and effort in preparing for the opportunity. Facing a job rejection email at this final stage can be a blow to one's confidence. Crafting a thoughtful and empathetic post-interview rejection email is crucial not only for maintaining the candidate's morale but also for preserving a positive relationship that may lead to future applications.

Key Takeaways for Your Next Round of Rejection Letters

This is a lot of information to take in, but here are the key points to keep in mind next time you need to send out a job rejection letter:

  • A well-written job rejection letter will generate a positive candidate experience, which will benefit both the candidate and your company. 
  • When sending out these emails, it is important to remember to show empathy, be personable, convey a positive attitude, offer constructive feedback when applicable, and acknowledge and thank them for the time and effort they have put into applying for the job. 
  • The type of rejection letter you send should differ depending on what stage in the hiring process you are on. A job rejection letter in the beginning of the hiring process will be shorter and less customized than a rejection letter at the end of the hiring process, which should be longer and more customized.

We hope that this information will be helpful and will lead to a better relationships with your potential and existing employees.

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