How to Write a Considerate Job Rejection Email (Plus, Templates!)

older woman on laptop thinking

Adobe Stock / Monkey Business

Profile Picture
If you're thinking about whether or not you should send a formal rejection to a job candidate, the quick answer is yes. Taking the time to write and send a rejection to an applicant may seem like a tedious, nonsensical task to a hiring manager, but it could potentially save the face of the brand as well as an applicant's relationship with it. 

You also want candidates to continue to support your company, if not from within the office walls, then definitely as a consumer outside of them. So to ease the process for you, we've provided four job rejection email templates, plus some next steps if you, yourself, have been hit with a rejection. 

Why you should send a job rejection email. 

Applicants spend lots of time updating resumes, tailoring their cover letters, interviewing via phone or in-person and waiting to hear back from recruiters throughout the application process. Sending a follow-up email shows that you respect their time and effort. Sunsetting the application process with a respectful email also communicates that there's still a place for the applicant within your company, even if it's not in the role they've applied for.

Must-haves in a job rejection email.

A thorough rejection email should include some variation of the following elements:

A sincere thank you.

Thank applicants for their interest in your company, completing the job application, interviewing for the position and/or their patience throughout the hiring process.

Some sort of why.

This could be as simple as saying, "We have chosen to proceed with another candidate who has more experience in X," or you could personalize this section by referring to the candidate's growth areas (relative to their expertise or interview performance).

Invitation to reapply.

Conclude your rejection email with an invitation for the candidate to reapply to this position in the future, or peruse the careers site for a role that may be a better fit.

4 candidate rejection email templates

Here are some copy and paste-able sample responses ready for you to customize as you please:

Template 1: For rejecting candidates who are not a good fit.

Dear [Candidate Name],
Thank you for your interest in the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. We have carefully reviewed your qualifications and have decided to pursue other candidates whom we think are a better fit for the requirements of this position. 
We appreciate your time and wish you the best of luck in your professional endeavors.
[Hiring Manager OR Department Name]

Template 2: For when the position's been filled.

Dear [Candidate Name],
Thank you for taking the time to apply for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. We regret to inform you that we have offered the position to another candidate whose qualifications are a closer match to our needs.
We will be keeping your resume on file for future openings at [Company Name], and wish you success in your job search.
[Hiring Manager OR Department Name]

Template 3: For job postings that receive a high volume of applicants.

Dear [Candidate Name], 
Thank you so much for applying for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. We received nearly [Numerical Estimate] applications for this position, and regret to inform you that you have not been selected. 
Thank you for the work and care you put into applying for this position, and we encourage you to reapply in the future. 
[Hiring Manager OR Department Name]

Template 4: For after the interview stage. 

Dear [Candidate Name],
Thank you for taking the time to visit our office and interview with our team for the [Job Title] role at [Company Name]. It was a pleasure meeting with you to learn more about your [Unique Skills or Accomplishments].
While we were impressed with your skills and accomplishments, we have decided to move forward with a candidate who has more experience in [Particular Skill or Field]. We encourage you to apply again in the future, and will keep your application on file for future openings that may be a better fit. 
Thanks again for your interest in our company. We wish you the best of luck in your career endeavors!
[Hiring Manager OR Department Name]

Next steps after receiving a job rejection email 

Whether you've been rejected from your dream job or weren't sure you wanted the position in the first place, it can still be difficult to receive a job rejection letter. Getting rejected from a job puts even more pressure on your job search as now the weight's been distributed across your pending applications. 
Additionally, hiring managers won't always tell you why you've been rejected or what you could do better to land the position in the future. In fact, some companies (especially start-ups) don't even have an HR or talent acquisition team to follow-up with every single candidate. 
If you find yourself in this position, here are some next steps you can take:

1. Allow yourself to mourn.

You're probably feeling disappointed, worried or frustrated after receiving a rejection letter. Give yourself permission to feel those feelings, and vent if you need to — to a friend, to a family member or someone in your professional network (who wouldn't be your boss or coworker in the future).

2. Reflect on your candidacy.

Take some time to reflect on your candidacy. Revisit your cover letter, resume, interview and follow-up with the hiring manager, and think about what you could've done differently to make you seem like a better fit for the position.

3. Respond to the email, if possible.

Respond to the email thanking the hiring manager for their time and consideration. This is a good opportunity for you to request constructive criticism, or let them know that you'll be on the lookout for future openings at the company. It's also a great way to build rapport.

4. Continue job searching.

When you're ready, continue moving your job search forward. Follow-up with existing applications and be on the lookout for new ones that pop up. Open yourself up to new options and angles, and use your reflection or constructive criticism to inform your approach.

Don’t miss out on articles like these. Sign up!

Stephanie Nieves is the SEO & Editorial Associate on the Fairygodboss team. Her words can also be found on MediumPayScale and The Muse.