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Don’t Burn Bridges: Handling Rejection Letters The Right Way

Posted by The ConveyIQ Team

Rejections can be rough — but they’re also a part of life.

Keeping in touch with talent throughout the hiring journey is an integral part of the candidate experience. But communication shouldn’t stop when a candidate is taken out of consideration for a role.

Here are some things to consider when crafting rejection letters, and how to turn what has been known as a negative experience into a tool to strengthen your talent pipeline.

Be Prompt

We get it: telling a candidate they didn’t get the job can be a little awkward. These candidates devoted their time, effort and energy to your hiring process because they wanted to be a part of your organization — time they could have been spending pursuing other employment endeavors.

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” – Bo Bennett

If you’re hesitant to send that email or make a call — don’t be. Like that great first date that never called you again, leaving a candidate in the dark after they applied for your job can leave them feeling resentful, or even disrespected.

Job seekers who don’t hear back on the status of their application are 3.5 times more likely to not re-apply for another job at your company, and 72 percent of job applicants who have a bad experience will share their woes with colleagues on social media and employer review sites. By not responding, you’re losing out on potential pipeline growth, while also potentially damaging your employer brand.

The candidate may have lost the race, but your company risks losing the war for talent in this case. Be sure to inform candidates on their application status as soon as you know where they stand.

Offer Feedback

When writing rejection letters, it’s important to let candidates know why they didn’t get the job. If a candidate came in for several rounds of interviews or submitted a portfolio of work, look for constructive feedback that will help them understand what they can do better if they choose to apply again. This will show you considered their efforts and valued their time — which will keep them motivated to search for future opportunities within your organization.

It’s important to consider several things as you craft your rejection letter:

  • Don’t write anything that could be interpreted as discriminatory. This could leave you (or your organization) vulnerable to legal action. Make sure you phrase your feedback in a way that is clear, and doesn’t put you at risk.
  • Don’t talk about other candidates. Comparing one candidate to another is unnecessary, and could leave you prone to misunderstanding.
  • Be honest, but be considerate. Don’t burn bridges.
  • Don’t offer promises you can’t keep. Sometimes, hiring managers will include a promise to contact applicants should another position open up. If you’re not seriously considering a candidate for future opportunities, don’t give them false hope in your letter.

Ask for Feedback

Consider including a poll or a survey when reaching out to rejected candidates. Even if it seems counter-intuitive at this stage, if done right, it could be one of the best times to gauge how a job seeker felt about your interview process, and what you can do to improve your candidate experience.

Stay Connected

A rejection letter doesn’t have to be a “good-bye." If you want to keep your pipeline strong, look at it more like a “see you later,” or a “keep in touch.” If you’re interested in keeping a candidate in your pipeline, invite them to join one of your talent communities or subscribe to your newsletter, so they can stay informed as new job openings become available.

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