How to Write Professional Yet Kind Rejection Letters [4 Templates]

It’s never easy notifying someone that they didn’t get the job.

This often leads to generic emails, or worse, complete silence – that’s where a rejection letter template can come in handy.

While it’s never fun to do it, there are kind yet professional ways to reject an applicant that preserve your employer brand.

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How to Write a Rejection Letter

You might not think twice about a rejection letter once you send it. But the truth is, your rejection letter is a reflection of your company. If it’s poorly written, that leaves a negative impression of your company that could easily spread to other candidates.

This is why writing a thoughtful rejection letter is key. It allows you to maintain a good relationship with the applicant, even if they were not a good fit for a particular role. Who knows, you may want to circle back to them if another position opens up.

When that comes up, you want a candidate to be excited about the prospect of working with you – and how you communicate plays a pivotal role in this.

It’s critical you remain positive with your language and focus on language from the job description itself.

In addition, keep in mind that a rejection letter is a fantastic opportunity for the candidate to receive positive feedback and learn how to do better in the future. Consider how you can include specific and valuable feedback.

A rejection letter can be broken down into three sections:

Paragraph One

Your first paragraph should be completely personalized and include the applicant’s name and the position for which they applied. Next, thank the candidate for their interest in your company and for taking the time to interview.

Finally, it’s critical you tell the candidate within the first paragraph you’ve decided to move forward with another candidate.

You can let them down kindly by including a compliment in the rejection, such as “While your qualifications are quite impressive …”

Paragraph Two (Optional)

The second paragraph is where the personalization really comes in. What you write will depend on your experience with the candidate and how far into the process they got.

For instance, if you’re rejecting a candidate after the first round, you can keep this section brief and jump to paragraph three. However, for a candidate who reached the final round, you’ll likely want to give more context to the reason for the rejection.

The candidate took time to prepare for your interview process, so if you were impressed by them during the interview, it could make a huge difference to let them know.

Simply include one strength of theirs you remembered from the interview process, like “Our team was particularly impressed with your writing skills.”

To truly add value, you’ll also want to include constructive feedback to help your candidate identify areas of improvement. Take detailed notes during the interview (or ask the hiring manager to do so) and when you reject your applicant, provide one or two areas of improvement.

Focus on one aspect of the job description you feel the candidate didn’t quite match.

Say the role required expertise in data analytics, but the applicant wasn’t strong in this area. You might say, “At this time, we’re looking for candidates with a deeper understanding of data analytics…”

If you were impressed by the candidate and genuinely feel they’d be a good fit for your company down the road, leave the door open by telling them you’ll put them into your contact database and reconsider them in the future.

Additionally, if it was a difficult decision, tell your candidate – it can help soften the blow.

Paragraph Three

Conclude by wishing the candidate luck in their job search, and thanking the applicant again for considering your company.

Standard Rejection Letter

Dear [Name],

Thank you for interviewing for [position] on [date of interview] and taking the time to learn about our company. After careful consideration, we have selected another candidate for the position.

We do hope you’ll keep us in mind when we advertise roles in the future and encourage you to apply again.

We wish you the best of luck in your job search and thank you for your interest in our company.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Feedback Rejection Letter

Dear [Name],

Thank you for interviewing for [position] on [date of interview]. It was a very tough decision but we have selected another candidate for the position.

Our team was particularly impressed with your [skills], but we felt you lacked experience in [skill/experience]. We’d recommend [taking a course/obtaining a certificate/gaining project experience] to improve.

We would like to stay in touch with you for future opportunities that might be a good fit. Please let us know if you’re interested in remaining in our talent pool.

Thanks again for taking the time to apply and come in to meet the team. We wish you the best of luck in your job search and thank you for your interest in our company.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Redirection Rejection Letter

Dear [Name],

Thank you for interviewing for [position] on [date of interview]. After careful consideration, we have decided to move forward with another candidate.

Our team was particularly impressed with your [skills], but we felt you lacked experience in [skill]. However, we believe your skillset would align better with [position] and would love to consider you for it.

Please let us know if you would be interested in discussing it further.

We’d like to thank you again for your time and wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Short Rejection Letter

Dear [Name],

Thank you for interviewing for [position] on [date of interview]. After careful consideration, we have decided to move forward with another candidate.

We thank you for your interest in the company and we wish you the best of luck in your job search.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Notifying a candidate that they have been rejected is never easy. By writing a thoughtful letter fit for the situation, you leave the door open for future collaboration and leave a positive impression of your company.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Oct. 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Source: Hubspot