January 17, 2006 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Rejection Letters - how to write them

I'm posting a job for our company. We get hundreds of replies every time we do this, most by people who are in no way qualified.

I can't manage to write everyone an individualized rejection letter. An email form letter personalized with their name will have to do.

1) if their resume is completely off base can I get away with ignoring it?

2) does anyone have any good wording for rejection letters that isn't insulting? In the past we've used a variation of "although your qualifications appear to be substantial..." even if they aren't.

Any input at all will help. Thanks!
posted by small_ruminant to Work & Money (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. If your company is large, and/or the applicant truly sucks, I don't think it's necessary. It's always nice to hear one way or the other, but job seekers are generally used to not hearing anything back on some opportunities, and you aren't obligated to contact them.

2. Dear [Name],

Thank you for submitting your resume to [company name]. We appreciate your interest in our organization and regret that, at this time, we are unable to match your skills and experience with our current openings. Should we determine in the future that your qualifications make you eligible for an opportunity with [company name], please be assured we will be in touch. Again, thank you for your application.

[your name] or [recruiting/HR department]
posted by justonegirl at 4:25 PM on January 17, 2006

I got a rejection letter today (ok cause I already got a job anyway). Accidentally (I swear, I didn't realize til I'd finished reading it) I also read someone else's rejection letter from the same place, for the same job, that also arrive today. (Somehow I picked both envelopes out of the mail, and of course once I had the envelopes in my pile I opened and read them all and it took me a while to figure out why I'd been sent two copies of the same letter).

Anyway, according the hiring department, they've found someone else more suited to their needs, but I as among their very top candidates and they hope I've found a position suitable for my extensive talents.

Of course, as I said, the other person's letter was exactly the same. So you can definitely get away with telling everyone they're fantastic and you're only sorry that you can only hire one person.
posted by duck at 4:28 PM on January 17, 2006

There's no need for a rejection letter.
posted by elisabeth r at 4:34 PM on January 17, 2006

1) Yes.
2) Justonegirl has it right, I just always add, "In the meantime, good luck in your job search!" Sincerely, Pom.

Customization is not as important as just doing it, as soon as you can after you decide you're not interested. They're waiting on you and really want to know.

If you use a service like Monster you can do autoresponses, and you can also send responses later to everyone in a particular category at once. You can also set up Outlook rules to do a lot of this for you.

If you phone screen someone or interview them face to face, you have to do a little more customization to your response, but you should send it as soon as you decide.
posted by pomegranate at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2006

if their resume is completely off base can I get away with ignoring it?

If you've glanced at it enough to actually know that it's off-base, you haven't ignored it. You've given at least as much attention as it deserves.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:40 PM on January 17, 2006

While it may not be necessary to provide a rejection letter, I think it's the right thing to do no matter how big your company is.

I think less of, and speak poorly about, companies who do not have the common courtesy to be honest and spend the 5 seconds it takes to copy me a form letter informing me that I should no longer be waiting with bated breath to see if I'll hear back.

The life of a job hunter is stressful, and while it sucks to receive a rejection, it's far better than the waiting and wondering, and the debating about sending a follow up to make sure you weren't lost in the shuffle, etc etc...

Frankly, while it's not out of the ordinary for larger companies to send rejection letters, I think not sending one is inconsiderate. I'm glad you want to take the right path and craft one, even if it's a form letter.
posted by twiggy at 4:45 PM on January 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you! These are all helpful. And justonegirl, I will probably plagarize most of what you've posted, with your permission.

We are a small company, and I like to send letters when possible. There was one occasion when I didn't because I was too overwhelmed and I'm still wracked with guilt about it. It was 5 years ago now. A rejection letter at this point would be counterproductive so there's nothing I can do about it.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:47 PM on January 17, 2006

There's no need for a rejection letter, unless you're a decent human being.

Write three. The one-line kiss-off, the four-line "not for this job, not this time" and the two paragraph "you made the long list but not the short list". Mix and match as appropriate.
posted by Hogshead at 4:50 PM on January 17, 2006

Maybe I'm way off base here, but I think a rejection letter/email is necessary. It doesn't have to be personalized, but a prompt response is respectful and professional. It also nips some potential problems in the bud. If you don't respond after two weeks, applicants will start calling (whatever phone number they can find) and then you get to deliver the news in person.
posted by annaramma at 4:52 PM on January 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Many businesses/organizations do not send out rejection notices. They suck.

A simple form letter, like justonegirl outlines with pomegranate's adendum is wonderful.

If the applicants were really interested, they would contact the company after recieving the notice (I've done so, in order to figure out if I was doing anything wrong or what - sometimes I get a reply or a re-interview, sometimes just ignored).
posted by PurplePorpoise at 5:14 PM on January 17, 2006

I think a rejection letter/email is necessary.

You haven't been job-hunting lately, have you? My wife has, and let me assure you, just getting a rejection letter made her day—it meant she didn't have to obsess about that possibility any more. I think she got a total of two. (She did get a job, thanks.) So don't worry too much about the phrasing; just letting people know you're not hiring them puts you way ahead of the game.
posted by languagehat at 5:24 PM on January 17, 2006

Plagiarize away!
posted by justonegirl at 5:34 PM on January 17, 2006

I'm stuck in job hunt hell right now myself, and the general rule I've found is that rejection communication (mail/email/phone) is only necessary after someone from your organization has already initiated futher contact with the individual being rejected. Otherwise, it's just too daunting a task.

People (myself included, sometimes) will fire off resumes at every opportunity they can find, even if only barely qualified. It can't hurt, and you never know when a more "suitable" position will be available.
posted by cgg at 6:10 PM on January 17, 2006

Rejection letters are nice, and they're also a great safeguard against having to tell people who make follow-up phone calls that they didn't make the cut. I was once faced with an over-the-phone sorry-not-this-time, and it seemed more painful to the hiring party than to me.
posted by lalalana at 6:12 PM on January 17, 2006

Rejection letters are nice, but can be a burden for the sender. If the job posting is receiving 1000s of resumes and the work to send out even a form letter would amount to hours of labor from other things you should be doing, then neglecting the rejection letter would be a reasonable choice I think. Send them to people who submitted a nice form letter or called or otherwise displayed extra effort, but otherwise it's not a good use of your time. If you're only getting a hundred or less, especially via email, or if you have an intern good for these things, then send out rejection letters to all. You need to balance the cost/benefits. It IS a good thing to do, but may be too costly.
posted by dness2 at 9:20 AM on January 18, 2006

Cost/benefit of sending rejection letters, dness2 -- if someone likes your company well enough to apply for a job there, they probably like its products/services well enough to be a client. If they send in an application and hear nothing, it can change their opinion of the business and its output.

There's a UK-based media company that was advertising a job for which I was well suited around April last year. In the three months prior to them advertising the job, I had spent something over £100 on that company's products. Since applying and not even getting a rejection letter in response, I haven't bought anything they've released. I see their logo and something in my head switches off.
posted by Hogshead at 9:56 PM on January 21, 2006

Oh, for the sake of mercy and humanity, please send at least a form letter. The one that justonegirl posted is fine, but I have tended to phrase it as "We have decided to select from among our other candidates."

In any case, for job hunters, any recognition from The Void (where all your e-mail applications go) is appreciated.
posted by squirrel at 5:12 PM on March 3, 2006

Rejection letters are nice, but can be a burden for the sender. If the job posting is receiving 1000s of resumes and the work to send out even a form letter would amount to hours of labor from other things you should be doing

This task can be, uh, automated, buddy.
posted by squirrel at 5:13 PM on March 3, 2006

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