How to Reply to an Employment Rejection Letter

Don't get down on yourself because of a job rejection letter.

Don't get down on yourself because of a job rejection letter.

It's okay to be discouraged, angry or disappointed when you receive the dreaded "thanks, but no thanks" job rejection letter in the mail. Don't over-analyze the "why" of the rejection, however, because you're unlikely to ever learn the exact reason. After you've had some time to think it through and deal with your emotional reaction -- maybe treat yourself to some retail therapy -- take time to write to the person who sent you the letter. Responding in the right way might lead to consideration for future openings or at least establish a networking connection in your field, so keep your reply letter classy and professional.

Read the letter completely to understand fully what it says. Then set it aside. Don't reply right away, because your emotions are probably in turmoil and you need to take time to process the rejection. Cry, go shopping, talk to a friend, watch a movie or whatever else helps you de-stress and vent your frustration.

Write a letter to the same person who sent you the rejection letter. Start by thanking her for her time and for considering you for the position. It's all right to say you're disappointed that you didn't get the job, but otherwise keep your response free of emotion or negativity. Don't express anger or say something you might later regret, such as "I can't believe you didn't select me" or "I know I was the best candidate for the job." Bottom line: They didn't select you, so in their minds, you weren't the best choice. Your letter won't change that, but an inappropriate response might well reaffirm they made the right decision in not hiring you.

Ask for feedback. This isn't the same as asking "Why didn't I get the job?", which just sounds whiny. Instead, tell the hiring manager or recruiter you're writing to that you value his opinion. Ask for his suggestions about how you could improve your interviewing techniques, your skill set or other areas that would make you a stronger candidate in the future.

Close your letter by repeating your appreciation for the addressee's time and consideration. If you are still interested in the company, mention that you would appreciate being kept in mind for future opportunities.

Tip

  • Remember that this letter needs to be as correct and professional in appearance as a cover letter or any other job-related correspondence.
 

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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