Guide to the Job Rejection Letter: How to Let Candidates Down Gracefully

Sending candidates rejection letters is an important step in the hiring process. However, writing these rejection letters can be a difficult task. Read our Guide to Rejection Letters for specific examples and explanations on how to let candidates down gracefully.
Professional man sitting at desk beginning to write a letter.
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Let’s face it — no one wants to write a rejection letter. It’s tempting for employers to just make a template rejection letter that they use for everyone. Some employers don’t even give applicants the courtesy of letting them know they’re out of the running. Understandably, the average job candidate won’t necessarily re-apply later to a company that just sends a rejection email template. Meanwhile, some employers want to go the extra mile to explain what happened in their applicant rejection letter. This can be a misstep with a stubborn job candidate. It’s really difficult to know how to write a rejection letter for a job that makes everyone happy!

To write a good applicant rejection letter, you need to be gentle but firm, and give reasons without specifics. We’ve compiled some conventional wisdom on writing a proper job rejection email. And after that, we’ve written out a job rejection email template or two for you to get some ideas. Our guide is designed to help you foster better relations with any job candidate that comes your way, even if now isn’t the right time to hire them.

Write Your Job Rejection Letter Like A Letter

Remember real letters, like the kind you sent in the mail? Write your rejection letter like you would a good old fashioned piece of snail mail. When it comes to rejection letters and offer letters, being formal helps. It shows you respect the job candidate even though you are turning them down. So gussy up your job rejection email with proper formatting.

  • Write “Hello [candidate first name],” or “Hi [candidate first name],” to start.
  • Keep things to just a couple paragraphs.
  • End with the sender’s signature, full printed name, and job position. Further contact information isn’t necessary.

Open The Job Rejection Letter With Gratitude

Begin the body of your letter by thanking the job candidate. This step is extremely important if you want to keep a good relationship with the job seekers you are rejecting. Focus on making the recipient feel valued. This may not be the job for them, but they’re useful in other ways– maybe in the same company. (More on that later.)

  • “Thank you for your interest in our [job title] position.”
  • “We appreciate you taking the time to apply to [company name].”
  • “We enjoyed meeting with you during your interview for the [job title] opening.”

Their Application Was Reviewed– Among Others.

Regardless of any reason you may give a job candidate for rejection, two things help. One, let them know that they were seen and/or heard. Two, let it be known that there was real competition. When a rejection letter includes these points, it explains that there was serious thought put into the decision.

  • “We’ve reviewed your application…”
  • “After the interview, we went over your entire application.”
  • “There was a high volume of applications for this position.”
  • “We compared your application to the many others we received…”

Give A Reason For Rejection

Any applicant rejection letter benefits from giving, or implying, a reason for the rejection. However, you don’t need to get too specific. Being too detailed in your reason for rejection gives a job candidate an opening to contest the decision. It’s also likely that you don’t have time to write out concrete reasons for every job rejection email. Try some of these.

  • If you’ve already discussed there being many applicants, just open the next sentence with “because of this,” or “as such.”
  • “We found another candidate who exceeds our requirements.”
  • “We’re moving forward with a candidate who better fits the role.”

State The Rejection Gently, But Firmly

You’ve already implied a reason for rejection; there’s no need to blame the job candidate. But you don’t want to write a letter of regrets, either. State the situation as it stands and end the paragraph.

  • “As such, we will not be hiring you at this time.”
  • “Because of this, unfortunately, we will not be moving forward with your application.”
  • “We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you a job at this time.”

Expand On Your Gratitude

You’ve just delivered bad news; use the next paragraph of the rejection letter to soften the blow. The first part of this task is to make it clear that you understand the position they’re in. After all, we’ve all been rejected before, and it isn’t easy.

  • “We understand that there’s a significant time investment involved in any job application.”
  • “We appreciate you taking the time to prepare and interview for this position.”
  • “It was a pleasure getting to know you throughout this process.”

Leave The Door Open For Future Applications

You have two real goals in crafting your rejection letter. The first is to help the job candidate to feel good about how the process went, and about the company at large. The second is to cultivate talent for future job searches. You can do this passively, or more actively with other offers. By keeping the door open with job candidates, you ensure access to a pool of talent down the road when you are hiring again. Use phrases like these to imply that there may be future opportunities for applicants.

  • “We hope you will apply to any openings with us that you qualify for in the future.”
  • “We have your application on file, and will refer to it when a fitting job opening appears.”
  • “While we are unable to offer you this position, we invite you to apply for our [job title] opening.”

Wish The Applicant Well And Sign Off

Now for the easy part: wrapping your letter up. The classiest way to do so is with some well wishing for the job candidate. End your rejection letter by sending the recipient off with a positive outlook.

  • “We hope your job search ends soon,” etc.
  • “Good luck with your continued job search,” etc.
  • “We hope to have work to offer you soon,” etc.

Job Rejection Email Sample 1 – Short And Sweet

Despite what we’ve said about taking your time with your rejection letter, sometimes you just need a quick email that you can push out the door. Maybe you want to respond to applicants as quickly as possible. Or perhaps you just need something temporary while you write a more in depth rejection email template. Whatever the reason, you need a short and sweet rejection letter, and stat!

We understand that. With that in mind, there’s definitely a way to be succinct and respectful at the same time. Below, you will find a job rejection email sample of how to do short and sweet right. And if you want to prepare a strong rejection email template, you’ll find another rejection letter sample beneath this one.

Hello [job candidate first name],
Thank you for your interest in our [job title] position. Yours was one of many qualified applications for this job. After reviewing your application, and many others, we have settled on another candidate. As such, we will not be moving forward with your application at this time.
We understand that there’s a significant time investment involved in any job application, and we appreciate your time. We now have your application on file, and will refer to it when a fitting job opening appears.
We wish you the best in your continued job search,
[sender signature]
[sender full printed name]
[sender job title]

Job Rejection Email Sample 2 – A Job Candidate Worth Keeping

Of course, sometimes, you’ll want to keep a job candidate around. There are often many qualified candidates applying to open positions, and you could find yourself with simply too much talent. When that happens, you’ll want to write a more encouraging job rejection letter. You can find that below.

And just as importantly, it’s worth asking: Just how do you find that talent? With the Find.Jobs network of sites, of course! When you post job ads with us, we push out your listings across our tens of thousands of targeted job search sites. US based jobs, for instance, will be posted to our popular US.Jobs, and many more sites. And all of this is done as affordably as it is efficiently. Be sure to contact us to learn more about how Find.Jobs can help you find job candidates worthy of your job openings– and of the letter below!

Hi again [job candidate first name],
It was a pleasure to interview you for the [job title] opening. After the interview, we went over your entire application. Unfortunately, when compared to the other applications, we landed on a candidate who is simply a better fit for this role. Because of this, we won’t be able to offer you this job.
We recognize your time commitment to this process, and we’ve appreciated this opportunity to get to know you. We invite you to apply to our [job title] opening, for which we believe you could be a better fit.

We hope to be in contact with you again soon,
[sender signature]
[sender full printed name]
[sender job title]

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