When you have your eye on the prize – the perfect applicant to fill a position – letting all those who didn't make the cut might rate low on your list of priorities. But a "no thanks" email is the least you can do to let hopeful candidates off the hook. When you craft your response, think of it as less of a distasteful task and more of a way to promote a positive impression of yourself – a consummate professional – and your business.
Include the candidate's name in the greeting of the email to personalize it. Dashing off a general greeting can leave a bad taste in a candidate's mouth.
Thank the applicant for the time she spent applying for the specific position. This shows that you recognize her interest and her efforts. For example, "Thank you for applying for the Accounting Manager position."
State that you're not interested, but let her down easy: "Unfortunately, I'm unable to advance your application at this time. However, I appreciate your interest in joining my company, and I wish you the best in your search for a new position." If the candidate has a good chance of snagging a spot with your company in the future, mention it. "Please feel free to apply again in the future for positions that meet your interest and qualifications."
Add helpful feedback about why you can't advance the application, as long as you don't open yourself up for a lawsuit. For example, if the candidate has three years of experience, and the job description calls for at least five years of experience, cite her lack of experience as the reason she was disqualified. However, if the candidate had the same experience level and qualifications as another candidate, but her personality wasn't a fit, don't go into detail. Otherwise, she could accuse you of discrimination.
- Don't procrastinate. As soon as possible, divide applicants into those you want to interview and those you don't. Then, send "no thanks" emails to those who didn't make the cut.
- Never send an internal candidate an email rejection or you risk crushing his morale. Instead, have a one-to-one and provide specific feedback to give the candidate direction for future applications.
- Avoid giving an applicant false hope by encouraging her to apply again in the future. If she isn't the right fit for your company in any way imaginable, don't lead her to believe that she is.
- Do not mention the candidate you hired for the position.
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