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Rejection is an inherent part of every recruitment process. We know delivering the bad news of a rejection is every recruiter’s nightmare but – as with every other touchpoint in the communication between you and your candidates – it can make or break their candidate experience. A well-written rejection letter will be your gateway into a supple talent pool and an important step towards building a good employer brand that attracts skilled candidates. In this article, we’ll provide you with a checklist for an effective rejection email, together with 9 free plug and play templates that will enhance your candidates’ recruitment experience.

Why Are Rejection Emails Important?

Let’s take the corporate setting as an example where companies receive an average of 250 applications per job post. 4-6 of those candidates will get an interview, and only one will be hired. That means 249 people would receive a rejection email from you.

So, instead of dreading this step, harness its potential to nurture the candidates’ relationship with your company and enhance your talent pool. 

Forbes identified the “lack of/delayed communication” as the top deterrent in today’s war for talent. Companies who don’t supplement their hiring process with personal, timely and transparent communication touchpoints will not only discourage their applicants from re-applying, but might inadvertently turn them into detractors.

And with 45% of applicants’ preferred source of finding jobs being through their friends, neglecting your communication with candidates from the early stages of their candidate experience might have a direct impact on your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) and, thus, the amount and quality of talent you attract in the future.

[.c-tip][$green][.c-tip-title][.c-tip-pro][.c-tip-pro][.c-title-3]9 Candidate Rejection Email Templates[.c-title-3][.c-tip-title][.c-text-3]We've prepared 9 unique email templates for rejected candidates, which you can read here, or through the image below.[.c-text-3][$green][.c-tip]

Download Link to Candidate Rejection Email Templates

Although They Might Not Be the Right Fit Now, They Might Be in the Future

Curating a supple talent pool is key in today’s competitive labor market. We go by the saying that “recruitment is not the business of hiring, but the business of rejection” and – if handled well – a simple rejection email can turn your candidates into future opportunities or even ambassadors.

A recent study shows that applicants who were rejected were 80% more likely to re-apply if they had a positive impression of the hiring organization, and the way you communicate the rejection will impact their impression tremendously. 

A Good Rejection Email Checklist

Respond in a Timely Manner

A recent survey showed that 44% of candidates wait as much as two weeks for a response to their application, while another 15% waited months. Regardless of the outcome of their application, most candidates’ interest in a company will diminish the longer they wait for an initial response.

So, the sooner you can respond to your applicants, the better impression they will have of your company. Even if the news they are getting is not what they expected, a timely and personalized response will soften the blow.  

Have a Human Tone

Candidates spend an average of 3-4 hours updating their CV, writing a cover letter and submitting their application. Unfortunately, not all of them can move on to the next phase, and the majority will get a negative response.

Their effort and interest are worth more than a robot-like 3-sentence rejection. Show empathy, gratitude and appreciation for the time they spent applying for the position, even if it’s just the first step of the screening process.

Put yourself in their shoes: is your rejection email something you’d be happy to receive yourself?

Get Personal and Explain Your Decision

It is no longer sufficient to tell candidates they are simply not being invited to an interview. The least you can do is explain your decision in a personalized way, even if it’s somewhat general.

Templates and automations ensure efficiency, but you should be able to identify a couple of scenarios that always allow for a personal touch regardless of the volume of applications you receive.

For example, the two most common scenarios might be that you like the candidate’s profile but they are not the right fit right now, or that the candidate does not have the appropriate background for your company yet. 

Use our templates below to optimize the communication flow with your candidates or find out how our highly skilled Candidate Experience Managers can help you identify rejection scenarios and prepare personalized templates based on your very own candidates’ feedback.

That way, you will turn every candidate into an ambassador.

State Your Expectations Clearly and Invite Them to Re-Apply

Having identified the main reasons why you are not proceeding with an application, you should let the rejected candidates know what they could do to meet your expectations better if they decide to re-apply in the future.

For example, advise them to gain more relevant experience in your industry or to brush up their knowledge of a specific tool key to the position. This way, you will show that you value them as a candidate and create a bridge into keeping them in your talent pool.

Actively encouraging them to re-apply might be obvious, but it is a simple way to make your candidates feel nurtured.

Seek to Maintain a Connection or Ask for Feedback

Asking for feedback in your rejection emails doesn’t only cushion the blow of being rejected by showing the candidate that you value their opinion, but it also gives them a positive impression of your company.

Demonstrating your willingness to improve the experience for future candidates portrays your organization as caring and people-oriented, i.e. a desirable work environment.

As recruiters navigate in an increasingly candidate-centric and competitive labor market, enhancing your hiring process based on first-hand feedback from applicants will set you apart from competition.

Acknowledge Their Effort with a Gift

Want to go the extra mile? Offering rejected candidates a gift for taking the time to apply or interview for a position at your company is bound to give you some extra EVP points.

Depending on the product or service your company provides – and the budget at your disposal – this could be a digital discount code or a voucher, or even a physical gift sent directly to their home.

A survey showed that 81% of candidates will share a positive candidate experience with their family or friends and even encourage them to apply for the company’s open positions. So, going above and beyond will get the power of word-of-mouth marketing on your side.  

Here’s a tip from our Candidate Experience Managers: you can apply the gift tactic beyond rejection. If your recruitment process is long, providing a discount code or a voucher will keep your applicants engaged while waiting to hear back from you. 

End It on a Good Note with Our Plug and Play Rejection Email Templates

Realizing your rejection emails need a face lift is the first step towards becoming a desirable workplace. But acting on it and making sure they contribute to a great candidate experience, despite being the bearer of bad news, is what actually gets your EVP skyrocketing. 

Use our templates as a plug and play solution, or simply get inspired. With rejection templates for different stages of the recruitment process (post-initial CV screening and post-interview) and tone of voice variations depending on your needs, optimizing your candidate communication flows has never been easier.

In Short

Nailing your candidate communication flow is imperative to a good candidate experience. The way you communicate, whether it’s what the candidate had hoped for or not, directly impacts their perception of your company.

And if you haven’t realized this by now: the quality of candidate experience provided by your hiring process and the tremendous impact of your employer branding on the quality and quantity of talent you attract are directly interconnected.

We’re in the candidate-centric era, and adjusting your recruitment efforts to this approach is a must. 

When writing your rejection templates, take a closer look at the reasons why your rejected candidates are not advancing further in the process.

Group them by reason and prepare a personalized, feedback-driven template for each scenario to make your applicants understand how they could improve their application for the future.

Refer to this checklist to ensure your rejection emails contribute to a positive candidate experience:

  • Respond in a timely manner
  • Have a human toneGet personal and explain your decision
  • Be transparent and state your expectations clearly
  • Seek to maintain a connection or ask for feedback
  • Acknowledge their effort with a gift
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