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Rejecting Candidates: How to Reject Applicants Without Burning Bridges

No one wants to give bad news, but an appropriate and timely rejection letter is a crucial part of the hiring process. Nearly 70% of people would rarely reapply for a job at a company if their rejection hadn't come in a graceful manner. Providing candidates with honest and informative feedback - either positive or negative - ensures a positive candidate experience. 

The once-rejected candidates may improve in terms of knowledge and skills over time and become a perfect fit for your future job openings. So, it's always important to leave a lasting impression and create a positive link with rejected candidates for future hires. 

In the following article, we will look at not only how to reject candidates politely but also how to stay in touch with candidates who did not make the cut. 

How to Reject Candidates

The rejection email should be clear, honest, and to the point. The way you communicate within it can affect your employer branding, so it’s essential to be professional in the language and tone used. Here are some tips on how to reject candidates gracefully:

Make candidates feel valued and worthy

It’s natural for candidates to doubt themselves after rejection. Having to tell them that you are not offering the role they have invested both energy and time into is inevitable. However, it doesn't mean you should ignore the importance of polite rejection. Ensure you highlight the unique strengths you spotted during the interactions, leaving them feeling confident and worthy.

"I find that the best way to communicate rejection is to be honest and straightforward. Be truthful with candidates, and they'll appreciate your honesty. There's no need to string them along or tell them that a position may open up in the future. If that's true, fine. If you're just sugarcoating their rejection, then it's the wrong way to go about it."

Brin McCagg, the CEO and founder of RecruitiFi

Let the candidates know quickly

It's crucial to let the candidate know as soon as possible that they didn't make it to the next stage. Keeping candidates informed about the status of their application lets them know that you value their time and do not want them to spend their time waiting for a position they won't get. Send a rejection letter to the candidate as soon as you know they are not a match. As a general rule of thumb, inform candidates of your decision within one week of an interview. 

Ask for feedback

Asking candidates for feedback is the best way to evaluate your hiring process. How was the interview process for them? Was there anything they would have liked to see done differently? According to CandE Research Report, candidate experience improves by 148% when job applicants are asked for feedback. Asking candidates to provide feedback shows that you care about their opinion and respect their professional insights. 

How to Stay in Touch with Rejected Candidates

Just because a candidate doesn't fit your current job openings doesn't mean they wouldn't be a perfect fit for one of the positions in the future. Here are the best ways to stay in touch with rejected candidates:

Use social media to connect with rejected candidates

One of the best ways to stay in touch with rejected candidates is to connect with them on social media platforms. You can comment on news or pieces of work past candidates share or congratulate them when they land a job. You can also share valuable opportunities with them as a token of value and respect.

Invite them to events

Extend invites to rejected candidates for career-related events you are hosting or participating in. Some company events are public, so you can use this opportunity to build relationships with people from your talent pool. 

Send them your recruiting newsletter

Sending a monthly recruiting newsletter to your talent pool is another way to stay connected with past candidates. By keeping in touch with rejected candidates via email campaigns, you can keep them engaged and inform them when you have new job openings.

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