Rejection and Your Candidate Experience

May 21, 2018 3:05:26 PM / by Chris Russell

Nobody likes facing rejection, but it is something we all have to deal with at one point or another. As a recruiter you can’t control over who is or isn’t the best candidate for your open position, but you can control how you respond to those who don’t make the cut. And the best way to treat all candidates, regardless of whether or not you hire them, is with respect.

Why This is Important

Provide a positive candidate experience. To begin with, you’ll want to provide a positive candidate experience in order to stand out in the minds of candidates. This positive experience should continue even after an offer letter has been sent to someone else. It’s important to remember that the candidates you reject may very well end up becoming your customer or even your next great hire. Creating a positive experience for candidates will pay off when the same candidates end up back in your talent pool to be considered for a different position that better suits their talents.

Treat delivering bad news like a Band-Aid. It’s likely that yours isn’t the only job opening in town. Candidates are busy sending out applications and going out on interviews and shouldn’t have to chase you down to find out whether they got the job. Nobody likes hanging around waiting for bad news. Rather than putting off the rejection, it’s better for all involved if you deliver the bad news as soon as possible.

A little communication goes a long way. Job seekers aren’t the only ones trying to make a good impression. While today’s candidates are selling themselves to you, you’re also selling your company to them. This is important to your company image and employment brand because reputation is a powerful thing. Building and maintaining relationships with candidates can be vital when trying to fill an opening at a later date. Open communication with candidates lets them know whether they can cross your job opening off their list and shows that you respect them.

This positive experience might result in them telling a friend, who tells a friend. It can work the other way as well. Word about a negative experience gets around and you may quickly find that candidates are no longer applying to your company. Customers may start to see your lack of communication as a sign of how you will treat them. A little communication can go a long way in determining how your company is viewed by both candidates and customers.

It can help organize your process and save time. Using open communication as part of your recruitment process may actually help organize your process and save time. No longer having to deal with calls or emails from irate candidates who are waiting for a response will save you (and them) a lot of pain and hassle.

Rejection Letters Tips

Because we all face limitations and constraints in our jobs, it’s important to understand what to put at the top of the list and what can wait until later. Communicating with candidates is a key part of the recruitment process, and one that should not be dismissed.

According to CareerBuilder’s recent Candidate Experience Study, 52% of all job seekers stated that the No. 1 biggest frustration during the overall job search is the lack of response from employers. In fact, more than 4 in 5 candidates (81%) said their overall experience would be greatly improved by continuously communicated status updates from employers.

When sending a rejection email or letter, consider these tips;

  1. Be candid but kind. Rejection is never pleasant, so be respectful of candidates’ feelings and wish them well in future endeavors.
  2. Make clear the reason for the rejection. For example: “We have selected someone  whose skills were better suited to this position.”
  3. Be personal. Personalize the letter or email with the candidate’s name, position applied for and, if possible, a signature, along with a personal remark.
  4. Be honest. If you predict future openings and plan to keep the candidate’s resume on file or want them to reapply in the future, tell them so. Don’t make promises about keeping a candidate’s resume on file if you have no intention of doing so. And if you do, give the candidate a specific time frame.
  5. Respond to candidates within a certain amount of time.
  6. Do not say which candidate was hired for the position.
  7. Use a compliment to soften up a rejection letter. For example, “Although your background and experience are impressive, we have chosen someone else for this position.”
  8. Be professional. Don’t send a postcard; you aren’t saying hello from your Caribbean cruise. A letter format is more appropriate. Go the email route if you are looking to be cost-efficient.
  9. Consider inserting a service like Rejobify into your rejection emails. Give them something useful alongside the bad news.

Most candiates say their overall candidate experience is indicative of how an organization values its employees. So keep in mind the company image you hope to put forth when beginning the recruitment process.

Chris Russell

Written by Chris Russell

Chris Russell, whom Joe Stubblebine (CRO at Lensa) describes as “the mad scientist of online recruiting" our firm was founded in 2015. The mad scientist badge is one Chris wears with pride due to his continuous experimentation in the online recruiting space. From new job boards to recruiting apps to popular podcasts, the art of bringing together employer and job seeker is a constant thought inside his head.

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