None of us likes getting rejected. In the past, many of you have cited “not enough time” as a reason you don’t send job rejection letters or e-mails. The reality is, we’re all under various types of constraints in our jobs, and while some things are prioritized, others fall by the wayside. Communicating with candidates, however, is a vital step in the recruitment process — and one that you should not be dismissing. But how can you achieve this important piece of communication without taking a chunk of time out of your work day?
The problem is twofold:
1) Candidates say there are not enough employers following up with them (particularly post-interview), which creates dissatisfaction among candidates.
2) Employers say there is not enough time to respond to all (or, in some cases, any) candidates whom they don’t choose to hire. So what gives?
Why should you care?
- Respect. No one wants to wait in agony for the possibility of bad news. Candidates shouldn’t have to chase you down to find out whether they landed your open job; they have applications to send out and interviews to go on! Think of the rejection like a Band-Aid, and give candidates the bad news rather than putting it off and dragging it out.
- Reputation. While today’s candidates are selling themselves to you, you’re also selling yourself to them. Your employment brand and company image is at stake. Keeping the lines of communication open will help you build and maintain relationships with candidates who may become your employees at a later date. And even if they don’t become your employees, reputation is a powerful thing. If you don’t give candidates the respect of knowing whether or not they can cross your open job off their list, they might tell a friend. Who tells a friend. And before you know it, candidates may start to avoid applying to your company. Customers may also see your lack of communication as a sign of how you will work with them. A little communication can go a long way in how candidates — and customers — see your company.
- Organize and save time. Aside from reputation, keeping this piece of communication in your recruitment process can actually help you organize your process and save time. Why field tons of calls or e-mails from irate candidates who haven’t heard back from you? Why put them through the agony, and why go through it yourself? For not a lot of effort, you can get a big return.
Who has the time? Yes, time is an issue. But with the right tools, you can spend as much time as you have (which likely isn’t much) to get your message out there. If you do have the luxury of time, you can go the extra mile with candidates — but in my experience, making even a small effort is better than making no effort at all.
“It’s important that employers not lose sight of communication with candidates, which is so necessary, particularly in our current economic environment,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.
“While employers are facing many challenges in the recruitment process, they must remember that candidates are facing a unique set of challenges as well. By facilitating candidates’ job search process, employers are not only making the process less cumbersome for the people applying to their jobs, but also building a strong reputation and a culture of respect.”
- My Letters: My Letters is a free CareerBuilder Job Posting tool that enables you to create and save up to 20 different automatic response letters to send to job seekers after they submit an application to your job. With My Letters, you can get necessary information out to candidates quickly, easily, and effectively. Create letters concerning the job position, needed candidate information, interview status, to alert of next steps in the process, to thank candidates, and more — and automate many parts of the recruitment communication process, without losing touch with candidates.
- Snail mail: While the heart may swoon at an ink-stained, handwritten letter sent the old-fashioned way, it’s not always the best option for your candidates. With that said, however, getting a response of some kind out, even if it is not as timely as e-mail, is better than nothing; at least candidates receive some kind of confirmation and closure. They can then either cross you off their list entirely or keep your company in mind for future opportunities (depending how open you keep that door in the letter, of course).
Tips for the best rejection letters or e-mails:
- Be candid but gentle. Remember, this is a rejection — be respectful of candidates’ feelings and wish them success in future endeavors.
- State a clear reason for the rejection; For example: “We have selected other candidate/s whose credentials were better suited to this position.”
- Be honest. If there are other future opportunities and you will keep the resume on file or want a candidate to reapply in future, say so. If not, don’t. Don’t promise to keep a candidate’s resume on file if you have no intention of doing so, and if you do, state a specific time frame (six months, for example).
- Be personal. Personalize the letter with the candidate’s name, position, and, if possible, a remark — or at least your signature.
- While this is a rejection letter, it is still nice to compliment a candidate if warranted – “although your background and qualifications are impressive, we have chosen someone else for this position.”
- Don’t send a postcard; this isn’t a “hello” from your Caribbean vacation, and it reeks of impersonality. A letter format is more appropriate. Plus, if you go the e-mail route, your costs are even more minimal.
- Do not say who was hired for the position in question.
- Respond to candidates in a reasonable amount of time.
Forget what you think you know about HR... it's all about to change.
Sign up to start getting exclusive content designed to empower you with the insight necessary to go from HR professional to strategic business partner.