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Anatomy of the Rejection Letter (Free Sample Template)

Rejection Letter

So you’ve finally hired a new employee and they’re starting next week!

Congratulations!

…but what should you do about all those applicants you aren’t going to hire?

Should you leave them high and dry to figure out they weren’t the right candidate?

Of course not!

You should write a rejection letter to inform all candidates that the role has been filled.

A well-written rejection letter is a courteous and respectful way to show all candidates that you appreciate their interest in your company. (As an added bonus, you may also keep them in mind to hire if the “best” candidate doesn’t quite work out)   

But how do you craft an effective rejection letter?  

Bonus: Download a free rejection letter sample and get started right away!

Before we get started, let’s review a few of the reasons why rejection letters are so important.  

It Maintains a Pool of Candidates

A rejection letter avoids burning bridges with candidates. This is important for a couple of reasons.  

First, if the employee you chose to hire doesn’t work out, you can offer the position to one of the rejected candidates. You will not have to start the entire process all over again.  This can save you serious amounts of time and money.  

Secondly, if candidates feel respected, they’re more likely to apply to another position within your company down the road.  They might be the perfect fit for another role!

You’ll Protect Your Brand

Neglecting to send a rejection letter and leaving candidates in the dark is irksome. It can cause distrust and disillusionment in your brand.  

This is bad because many candidates know customers, prospective employees or suppliers.  As a result, bad word of mouth could really hurt your brand.

Additionally, many candidates apply to positions at companies they believe and trust. When you neglect to follow up with a polite rejection letter, you might also be losing an advocate of your brand.

Fortunately, sending a simple rejection letter can make candidates feel respected, even if they aren’t the right fit for the position. That alone can prevent unnecessary negative word of mouth.

You’ll Keep Customers

Hiring managers often forget that candidates are usually customers.  

The reason they applied to the position is often because they are intimately familiar with your company.  

As a result, failing to treat them properly could lead to the loss of a customer.

But again, this can all be prevented with a simple rejection letter.  

It’s Polite

Finally, although it may seem mean to send a rejection letter, it’s actually the polite thing to do.  

Rather than making the candidate sit around waiting and hoping that they got the position, you’re letting them know to look elsewhere. This saves time in the lengthy hiring job search process.  

Most (if not all) candidates would prefer a well-written rejection letter to being left in the dark.  

How to Write a Rejection Letter

So now that we have a good idea of just why rejection letters are so important, let’s learn how to write an effective one.  

All great rejection letters have five basic sections:

Date And Address

You’ll want to address your rejection letter like any other letter by starting with the date and address.

See the example below:

March 25th, 2017

John Smith

123 Apple Boulevard

San Francisco, CA 94016

Dear John,  

Opening

Next you’ll want an opening paragraph that serves as an introduction to the rejection letter.

Check out the example below:

Thank you for your interest in the marketing position at XYZ company.  We genuinely appreciate you taking the time to apply and come in for an interview.  

As you can see, there are two things you’ll want to do in the opening paragraph.  

First, you want to thank the candidate for having the interest to apply to your company.  Just by applying to your company, a candidate has shown that they support what you do and are interested in becoming a part of that vision.  

Secondly, you’ll want to thank the candidate for applying to the position and spending the time to submit a resume, attend an interview, etc.  This is important because applying to a position can be a lot of work and thanking a candidate for their time shows you care, which will make the let down a bit easier.  

Let Down

After the opening paragraph, the next step is to craft the paragraph where you’ll let the candidate know they did not get the job.  

Check out the example below:

While we were impressed with your qualifications and background, it was an extremely competitive process and we have decided to move forward with another candidate at this time. We sincerely regret to inform you that we cannot offer you employment at this time.  

Including this early on is important because you don’t want to make the candidate read through the entire letter before telling them they did not get the position.  

A great let down paragraph should communicate three pieces of information.

First, you should acknowledge the candidates qualifications which led them to be considered in the first place.  

Secondly, you’ll want to explain that it was a competitive process and that there were other candidates whose qualifications more closely matched what the company was seeking.  This communicates that the position was not a good fit and that it wasn’t because the candidate was necessarily under qualified. 

Finally, you’ll want to make it clear they did not get the position but also leave the door open with a statement like “at this time,” because it’s possible the person you picked won’t work out.

Re-Engagement

Good candidates are both hard and expensive to come by so if you do receive some good candidates but can only hire one, it’s a good idea to leave the door open so you can offer them a future position.

Check out the example below:

We wish you the best of luck in both finding a position and in all of your future endeavors.  In the meantime, we will hold on to your resume to review in the future.  If a suitable position for your qualifications does come up in the near future, we’ll definitely let you know.  

With the re-engagement section, you want to do 3 things.  

First, wish them luck in their future endeavors.  This shows you care and harbor no ill will toward the candidate.  

Secondly, let them know you will hold on to their resume.  This both gives the candidate hope and lets them know that although they didn’t get the position they applied to, there may be an opportunity for them with the company in the future.

Finally, inform them that if a suitable position comes up, they’ll be the first to know about it.  

Closing

Now that you’ve delivered the bad news in a cordial way, you’ll want to sign off.  

Check out the example below:

Thank you again for your interest and time in applying to the marketing position at XYZ company.  

As you can see in the example above, it’s a good idea to have one last line which thanks them again for all the effort and time they put into the application process.  This simply reaffirms what you’ve said throughout the cover letter.  

Then, you’ll want to sign off typically with a fairly standard sign off.  

Check out the example below:

Sincerely,

Mary Smith

Director of Human Resources

XYZ Company

You can customize it to your own style but avoid less professional sign offs like “cheers” that don’t align with the tone of the letter.  

Sample Rejection Letter Template

[Date]

[Candidate Name]

[Candidate Address]

Dear [name],

Thank you for your interest in the [job title] position at [company name]. We genuinely appreciate you taking the time to apply and come in for an interview.

While we were impressed with your qualifications and background, it was an extremely competitive process and we have decided to move forward with another candidate at this time. We sincerely regret to inform you that we cannot offer you employment at this time.

We wish you the best of luck in both finding a position and in all of your future endeavors. In the meantime, we will hold on to your resume to review in the future. If a suitable position for your qualifications does come up in the near future, we’ll definitely let you know.

Thank you again for your interest and time in applying to the [job title] position at [company name].

Sincerely,

[your name]

[your title]

[company name]

Other Examples

In Conclusion

Rejection letters are both polite and tremendously important to your hiring process.

And it’s a shame more companies don’t send them because despite all the benefits, writing rejection letters is not difficult.

If you use the templates in the post, you should be able to make one in under 15 minutes and customizing it for candidates should only take a couple of minutes each.  

Hopefully this article helps and if you have any stories about a great rejection letter you received, how a rejection letter led to a new employee or any other thoughts on the article, please leave a comment.  

We’d love to hear from you!

Related Articles:

Offer Letter Sample Template
The Perfect Professional Resignation Letter (Sample Template)
The Termination Letter (Free Sample Template)
 

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Will Zimmerman

Will is a content marketer for Proven. He is from Boulder, Colorado and when not writing awesome content, he enjoys all things outdoors, including but certainly not limited to skiing, camping, hiking, and surfing.

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