6 Steps for Writing a Job Rejection Letter
Rejection letters should be brief yet thoughtful. A concise letter
clearly lets the applicant know that your answer is no, so they can
move on with their job search. At the same time, offering feedback
in a warm and constructive way can
help rejected applicants improve and motivate them to reapply.
Keep your message short yet substantial by sticking to a formula.
We've put together a simple format with these six steps to help you
write a succinct, helpful rejection letter.
Step 1: Address the candidate by name
The easiest way to respond to lots of job candidates is to send a
nameless stock letter and BCC all of the applicants.
This move might save time, but it also makes job candidates feel
unappreciated, leaving a negative impression. If you want job
applicants to reapply, contact them personally to maintain the
relationship and ensure they feel acknowledged.
Send the rejection letter to the candidate's email address, greeting
the candidate by name. This level of personalization may seem basic,
but it's often overlooked when recruiters or hiring managers get
busy. It’s an important step in showing the candidate that you
Step 2: Thank the candidate
All too many rejection letters start with “We regret to inform you.”
When you begin the letter with the rejection itself, you risk
discouraging the applicant too quickly. Job candidates may even stop
reading and close the email after confirming the rejection.
Instead, start the letter on a positive note—thank the candidate.
They've spent hours of their time researching your company,
responding to emails, and attending
interviews. If the applicant understands that you appreciate
their effort and involvement in the hiring process, they’re
more likely to maintain a positive view of your company, and walk
away with positive things to say and a willingness to reapply in the
A simple formula for this thank you statement is, “Thank you for
your interest in [insert role] and for taking the time to complete
the interview process.”
After seeing the thank you, the applicant will be more willing to
read the rest of your letter and accept the rejection that follows.
Step 3: Deliver the bad news
After thanking the candidate, it's important to quickly get to the
rejection itself. Applicants will want to know why you've sent the
email, so it's best to promptly state the rejection instead of
drawing out the message.
Soften the blow with gentle phrases, such as “unfortunately” or “I'm
sorry to say.” These phrases show the candidate that the rejection
decision wasn't easy to make.
Formal language also adds an air of politeness that takes the edge
off of the rejection. For example, your letter might say, “We will
not move forward with your application,” or, “Your candidacy did not
make it to the next round,” instead of plainly stating the
If you had a large number of applicants, you might also mention the
competitiveness of the candidate pool. Adding this extra explanation
(“It was a difficult choice due to the large number of applicants”)
makes the rejection feel less personal—the “no” seems like a product
of circumstance to the candidate, not just a result of their skills
Click here to get your free rejection letter template.