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How to Write Job Rejection Emails (With Downloadable Templates)

Many people consider the recruitment process complete once they select and onboard the right candidates into the organization. However, sending job rejection emails to dozens of candidates who didn’t make the cut is also an important part of the process.

Related: The Recruitment Process

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Why should I send job rejection emails?

A candidate rejection email is an official communication to candidates who have not qualified for the next recruitment level. It lets them know that you’re officially ending their participation in your company’s ongoing recruitment process.

Many organizations ignore this part of the recruitment procedure, preferring to use silence to communicate to candidates that they won’t be moving to another level of recruitment.

Radio silence is easy to accomplish, but it’s not effective. Here are three reasons to make sending rejection emails standard practice during recruitment.

1. Provide closure

An Indeed survey found that over 44% of candidates wait two weeks for a response when participating in a company’s recruitment process. Moreover, 15% can wait months for communication.

The recruitment process demands a lot of time, physical effort, mental exertion and even money from candidates. Each candidate puts their future on the line when undergoing recruitment, so leaving them in limbo is not respectful or professional.

55% of job seekers say that companies’ digital hiring processes can feel like a black hole into which their resumes and personal information disappears. Your organization can make a difference by sending rejected candidates emails.

2. Maintain relationships

A candidate who isn’t the right fit for your company’s needs today may be the ideal hire tomorrow. A job rejection email helps you end your current relationship on good terms and makes the candidate willing to apply for future openings.

The right job rejection email uses language that leaves room for future interactions between your company and the candidate. You can send an email that tells them that you’re impressed with their skill set and encourage them to apply for other open positions.

3. Boost company image

Nailing the art of rejecting candidates can do wonders for your company’s reputation. Many candidates who receive a job rejection email have a positive view of the company despite the disappointment and sadness of not getting a job.

Use a good rejection email template to create rejection emails that show candidates you care and appreciate their efforts to try and contribute to your organization.

Related: How to Create a Positive Candidate Experience With Indeed

Tips for writing a good candidate rejection email

1. Send it promptly

Don’t wait until your preferred candidates are fully settled in their new positions before reaching out to a rejected candidate’s email. It’s good practice to send a rejection email within a week of interacting with a candidate, whether or not they have reached the interview stage.

2. Personalize it 

Up to 77% of employers either partially or fully personalize their rejection emails. Personalized rejection emails let candidates know you noticed and appreciated their efforts during recruitment proceedings. 

Use a candidate’s official name and title in your email. Mention the role they applied for, and thank them for wanting to work for your organization. These personal touches help reduce any negative feelings or intentions candidates might have towards your company due to the rejection.

Additionally, a personalized rejection letter helps you familiarize yourself with individual candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. You can create a useful point of reference for future interview invites.

3. Be concise

Rejection is hard for anyone, so you may want to soften the blow as much as possible when sending out job rejection emails. However, a candidate shouldn’t have to scan through large blocks of text or read between the lines to know they’re no longer in the running for a role. 

4. Provide feedback 

Even though 86% of job seekers value constructive feedback on their performance, only 57% receive it. Consequently, your rejection email template should provide room for feedback on how a candidate performed during recruitment. 

Most companies give non-recruiters the job of writing job rejection emails. However, it’s good practice to have recruiters directly interacting with candidates to handle this part of the process. They can provide good feedback which can help soften the blow of rejection by showing candidates areas they can improve. 

Applicants can use in-depth feedback for auditing their qualifications, application documents, interview conduct and personal presentation. Such changes can help them prepare for future recruitment exercises with you or other organizations. 

Sometimes, candidates apply to roles they aren’t suited for, and detailed feedback may help them find the right career track for their skills and personality.

5. Invite future applications

A current rejection doesn’t have to be a permanent rejection. It’s always good practice to tell candidates that they can apply for future opportunities in your company. If you have vacancies that may be a better fit, point rejected candidates to them.

You can also leave room for candidates to ask more questions after they receive a rejection email. Attach the details of a recruiting manager at the end of the email so the candidate can get further explanation.

However, feel free to permanently reject candidate emails by reaching out through a no-reply address.

Related: How To Give Feedback to an Unsuccessful Candidate (Template and Sample Included)

Job rejection email template

Text reads: "What to include in a rejection email: Feedback, a thank you, personalization, invitation to apply again."
1. Appropriate subject line

A candidate should be able to tell what the email is about by just a glance at the subject line. Mention the job title to give them a clue as to the email’s content.

2. Acknowledgment

A candidate rejection email should always be polite. Thank the candidate for their application, time, and effort during recruitment, even if they only participated in the first stage.

3. Application update

Don’t leave the bad news until the end of the email. Be direct when telling the candidate that they won’t be proceeding to the next recruitment stage.

4. Feedback

Tell the candidate how you made the decision. Avoid giving generic feedback since this can elicit more questions. Tell the recipient what parts of their application and performance impressed you and how to improve those that didn’t. If you can’t commit to providing personalized feedback, omit this section.

5. Next steps

Tell the candidate what they should do going forward and how you’ll handle their information. If a candidate is a good culture fit for your company, leave your email address or a recruiting manager’s to provide room for a future relationship. However, tactfully end the relationship to prevent any future misunderstandings if your company won’t ever find a candidate’s skills or abilities useful.

6. Closing

End the email with a salutation, your name and job title as you would any other work email.

Here’s a job rejection email sample you can send to candidates who may be a good fit for future opportunities in your company:

Subject: Your Application with [Company Name]

Hello [Candidate Name],

I/We hope you’re well.

Thank you for your application for [ABC] position and for taking the time to participate in [relevant test and/or interviews]. I/We really appreciate your interest in joining [Company] and are grateful for the time and energy you invested in the process. 

The talent team has carefully considered your application and [test/interview] results and regrets to inform you that we will not be proceeding with your application. We decided to go with another candidate with more [skill/qualification] experience. 

However, I/we think you’d be a great culture add to our company, so I/we’d like to hold your details on file and contact you should another position that matches your competencies arise. 

There are a few open [XYZ] positions for which I/we encourage you to apply. Visit this [URL] for more information on the available opportunities. 

I/We take this opportunity to wish you every success in your career.

Kind Regards,

Your Name,

Your Title


[Company Name] Talent Team

If a candidate is a bad skill or cultural fit for your company, keep the email short. After the 3rd paragraph, you can say:

Again, we really appreciate your time and efforts and wish you all the best in your career.

Kind Regards,

Your Name,

Your Title


[Company Name] Talent Team

Related: 7 Rejection Letter Samples to Send Unsuccessful Applicants

Frequently asked questions about job rejection emails

How long should a job rejection email be?

There’s no standard length for job rejection emails. You can use a job rejection email template to ensure you cover all the necessary sections. However, the actual rejection email can be longer depending on whether or not you provide detailed feedback.

Can I inform a candidate about a job rejection over the phone?

Sometimes, calling individual candidates to inform them that they won’t proceed to the next recruitment stage is more professional than sending an email. If you’re recruiting from a small pool of highly qualified individuals, or if a candidate has gone through multiple interview sessions, then a phone call is the most appropriate way to reject them.

Should I ask for candidate feedback through a rejection email?

You can ask candidates to fill out a survey form to get feedback on your company’s recruitment process. While some candidates may take their feelings out on the forms, many can give you invaluable feedback on how to improve your hiring procedures.

Related: Employer Brand and Candidate Feedback: A Match Made in Heaven

Job Rejection Email Templates for PDF & Word

Download these job rejection email templates to help you write a note that respectfully lets candidates know you aren’t moving forward with their application.

Download PDF for Free
Download Word for Free

*Indeed provides these examples as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your HR or legal adviser, and none of these documents reflect current labor or employment regulations.

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*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

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