Any letter that contains bad news always requires much more of a tactful approach when composing it than one expressing joy and it becomes even more complex when it relates to turning down a job applicant for a particular job. This situation becomes more difficult as for the most part, job rejection letters are usually sent out en masse using a standard format and are not as personalised as some other forms of letters bearing bad news. This is due to the volume of job applicants far outnumbering the number of vacancies and, for the most part, employers or HR departments simply do not have the time to respond personally to every applicant who has expressed an interest in a specific role.
The trouble is, however, that although job applicants are only too aware of the ‘odds’ usually being stacked against them when it comes to their chances of obtaining a specific job and are aware that the competition is likely to be fierce, it can be quite hard for them to accept rejection easily and not to take it personally and you should try to bear that in mind when you have to deliver such bad news.
How to Write the LetterUsually, a standard job rejection letter will come in two forms. One will be very brief and sent out at the sift stage of the application process – the stage where the company are short-listing for interview. A longer ‘version’ of the standard rejection letter is usually more appropriate for those applicants who have met with the company at interview or assessment but have still not succeeded in getting the job.
If you have a small company, a personalised job rejection letter to each applicant you’ve interviewed helps to show your company in a good light if you have the time to do that. However, if that’s not possible, then any standard rejection letter should be approached more from an angle of the applicant not being ‘rejected’ as such but simply adopting an approach that there were other applicant(s) who were more suitable.
The letter should clearly tell the recipient in the first paragraph that they have not been successful and you should express regret at having to inform them that it’s not good news.
The tone of your letter should be courteous and you should end it by thanking the recipient for their interest and wishing them well.