Rejection is never nice but you have to get it right

Written by FG Recruiter Jennifer Sanderson

Work /
Rejection is never nice but you have to get it right

No news is good news’ isn’t always the case, and frankly it can cause anxiety and feelings of uncertainty. I don’t think anyone would agree that those feelings are ‘good.’ As an employer, a recruitment process can be time consuming and requires a lot of energy and focus that you have to try squeeze in on top of everything else you need to get done. We get it (and ps you know we are always here to help with that!). The recruitment journey does require a lot of work however at the end of the process there’s a step that so many employers think they can ignore or simply push to the side, the rejection process. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in finding our ‘gem’ that we forget about all of those who didn’t get the gig, and we shouldn’t. 

SEEK conducted a report that told us that over 60% of candidates who didn’t hear back from an employer during the recruitment process developed ‘negative feelings’ towards that brand.  A LinkedIn survey also taught us that ‘over 78% of candidates believe that the way they are treated in the hiring process is a clear indicator of how a company will treat their employees’.
Those are big numbers, and you certainly don’t want people feeling negatively towards your brand, especially after a personal experience with your organisation. And let’s face it, people talk. 

The guide below outlines how you can get on top of your rejection process, have candidates feeling clear on where they are at in the recruitment journey and will leave your brand in a good position from a reputational perspective: 

Rejection doesn’t have to come at the end of the process 

Employers can fall down by believing that the rejection process comes at the end and it’s a drawn-out, bulky task. It doesn’t have to be that way.
When you know categorically that someone isn’t the right fit when the first batch of applications comes through then reject them that day or the day after. Write a template that you can use and tailor to the candidate so it cuts out half the work of starting from scratch each time.
Keep the details of the candidates that may be of interest but set a reminder to get back to those people on a certain date when you know you won’t be proceeding any further with their application. 

Set the tone that reflects who you want to be as a brand 

In this day in age, we are probably a bit past the ‘Thanks for you application, we won’t be proceeding at this stage response.’ At Freelancing Gems, we encourage using your ‘brand voice’ to construct a rejection email or message. Be personal, sit in the candidate’s shoes. This person has taken time to submit an application and probably wrote a cover letter – thank them for their time, make sure you note that you are grateful for the effort but you are progressing with a candidate that is more aligned to the role. It’s kind and it’s human and hopefully those are values that reflect your brand. 

Set the tone that reflects who you want to be as a brand 

Provide feedback and take it too 

This one is a tricky one as it can be time consuming, however, when you can give people feedback, do it, because they are craving it. If you do this on email great, but we would strongly recommend those candidates you have had a conversation with, either on the phone or in person, that you again pick up the phone for a few minutes and explain why they won’t be progressing. If you can’t do this, then we would suggest giving them a reason why in email/message – even if it’s brief. You are doing that person a kindness and allowing them to develop and grow going forward. 

Ask for feedback too. If a candidate is at the interview stage for example, they will have had a number of touch points with your organisation. Ask them what their experience has been like so far, if you don’t ask, you don’t learn right!? You might also find out what is working really well in your process and you can build on it. 

If they are a ‘gem’ that you may want to work with, keep them warm 

During the recruitment process if you are down to 2-3 great candidates (lucky you!) then make sure you treat the ones that aren’t landing the gig as well as the one who is. As we all know, life changes quickly and you don’t know when you may need to draw on the other candidates if the person you choose suddenly drops out, or a huge project lands and you need more hands on deck. Give them helpful feedback on why they weren’t successful, praise them for getting so far in the process and how highly the organisation thinks of them. 

Manage candidate’s expectations around keeping in touch, even if you say we’ll call in 3-6 months to check in, or ask them to keep you abreast of their movements. Build talent pools and take more from the process than just your next ‘gem’. It’ll save you time and work in the long run. Plus remember that great people tend to know other great people and it’s another way of finding remarkable talent. 

If you need help with the recruitment process or would like assistance drafting a rejection template in your brand voice, get in touch with us at

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