job rejections right before a holiday: okay or not okay?

Whenever I need to send out rejection emails and it’s a day before a holiday — especially Thanksgiving or Christmas — I always wonder if it’s kinder to wait.

What’s your take? Would you rather get an answer right now, so that you’re not wondering and agonizing over the holiday break when you could have already found out? Or would you see a rejection right before you’re leaving for a holiday weekend as Scrooge-like, insensitive behavior? Or do you not care either way?

And does it make any difference if it’s a post-interview rejection versus just a post-application rejection?

{ 151 comments… read them below }

  1. Jubilance*

    I’d rather get that email sooner than later. Either way I didn’t get the job, and I’d rather know that so that I can let it go & keep job-hunting, rather than be nervous wondering if I go tthe job or not. I think there’s a difference between getting a job rejection close to a holiday & getting fired/laid off close to a holiday. The latter being really harsh & something that should be avoided, if possible.

      1. zayq*

        This actually just happened to me, and I definitely preferred getting rejected before the holiday rather than after. 2 whole days of comfort food! I know that if I hadn’t it would have stressed me out no matter how hard I tried to put it out of my mind.

    1. Jamie*

      I think it’s harsher to lay someone off just after the holidays than before. I know it sucks before, but it would kill me to know someone was out spending money on the holidays as if their job were secure, when they really needed to dial it back.

      Yes, people should know it’s coming – but too many people are blind to their warnings until they are actually fired. I’d personally rather hear it before I bought a big ticket item for Christmas or whatever.

      1. Katie*

        I completely agree with this. I would feel awful if i spent extra money on a holiday and had to make up for it when I lost my job.

      2. Life Is Weird*

        I do understand this approach and have often considered in in the timing question. Two points tend to override it for me :
        1) everyone approaches moeny considerations differently so ot it hard to know what it might create in this scenario. If someone is about to be terminated and they told you they were in the process of buying a new car or an offer on a new house-that would affect timing for me. If it is a case of Christmas shopping or other smaller ticket spending-realistically we can not be responsible for other peoples financial approaches. Spending for optional or luxury items such as Christmas or vacations -if a persons approach is that take into consideration how they will fare if they lost their job then it might not matter. If their approach is to assume they won’t lose their job or simply don’t consider the possibility that something unexpected could happen, then spending on such things might prove to be problematic. But HR people or managers who make hire/fire decisions are not responsbible for those approaches . We become less effective when we let emotions drive such decisions-having empathy is a good thing. If we can objectively asses the best decision vs our own emotional responses.

      3. Anonymous*

        People are blind to warnings. I fired someone right after he bought a house. He was a terrible employee in so many ways who had been on a PIP the entire time he worked for me (he had been transferred over to me so that he would have a local manager instead of a remote one), and he had been going down the trail of increasingly dire, written warnings. But he failed to realize what was about to happen and 1) didn’t improve and 2) bought the house anyway. To compound it, he had a child with a chronic medical problem and was the sole wage-earner in his family.

        I was literally sick during the entire time because I could see what this was going to do to his family, but I couldn’t say anything to him about it outside the bounds of reviewing his work and continuing to warn him about required improvements. I felt like Scrooge.

        And then he threatened us on his way out the door, and I got over it.

      4. Nev*

        Completely agree. Very few people are completely oblivious to the fact that they will be fired, so if this were to happen to me I’d rather know than anticipate and plan holiday shopping accordingly. Once I was in a situation to learn that almost my whole department will be fired after Christmas, and although I wasn’t among the ones to be let go, I spent an awful holiday time worrying for my colleagues and wondering it is better to give them heads-up (which I didn’t do, because I had to promise it to our Director, but still hated myself).

      5. Elizabeth*

        Similarly, this could be an argument for sending out job rejections before holidays as well. Obviously you shouldn’t go spend a bunch of money on holiday gifts because you think you’re about to get a great job – as Alison always says, you don’t have a job until you have accepted an actual offer – but some people get far too optimistic.

      6. PJ*

        This post was about rejection letters to job candidates, not employees who are getting fired.

        Either way, before, please. I’m a big girl. I can take it.

      7. aname*

        Yeah, my husband was laid off after our honeymoon. They’d known for months they were going to do it and he was the only candidate involved and didn’t say anything until he got back. Luckily we hadn’t spent money we didn’t have on the honeymoon.

        1. LJL*

          I was laid off right before a vacation that had been planned for months. I would have much preferred to receive that news after the trip.

    2. GeekChic*

      I agree with Jubilance. That said, I don’t celebrate either holiday mentioned so this time period isn’t any more emotionally fraught for me than any other.

    3. Adrienne*

      Agreed. At least for a job rejection I’d MUCH rather know before the holiday – since I’ll be off work, I can spend the extra time actually looking for and applying for more jobs. Not so sure about a firing though… I think that would probably be better saved for after.

  2. Wubbie*

    Personally, I’d want to hear ASAP in all cases. I deal with rejection much better than uncertainty.

    I can see how others might feel differently, though.

    1. KarenT*


      I’ve always found the disappointment of not getting a job easier to deal with than the anxiety of waiting to hear back. I think telling someone as soon as you know is the kindest thing to do. Even if I was in a position where I was really desperate for a job, I think I would still want to know because any hope you had over that holiday is false hope.

    2. Jill*

      I completely agree with you Wubbie, I am waiting to hear back on an offer and after stressing out about it I finally got a note yesterday saying they were just waiting to hear back on an approval. It would have been just plain awful to spend the long weekend wondering what the heck was going on!

  3. Rob*

    I received a post-application rejection yesterday. It didn’t bother me if I received on the holiday tomorrow, today, yesterday or last week. I’m more bothered if I don’t hear anything at all as opposed to getting a notification of rejection at any given time.

    So send it out today. Or wait until next week. But do send out that rejection and don’t leave the applicant hanging!

  4. VintageLydia*

    IMO, post-application (rather than post-interview) rejections wouldn’t matter much. Most people I know have so many applications out at once that it doesn’t matter much. I’d wait on the post-interview rejections, however. People get their hopes up after an interview or two.

    1. Anonymous*

      It is precisely because I have my hopes up that I want to know ASAP so that I can move on… I think it is wrong to keep a person on the hook once a decision has been made.

      We’re all adults, you shouldn’t assume that someone can’t handle the news or that bad news will automatically ruin a holiday.

  5. Christine Assaf*

    I agree with previous comment. I try to notify applicants as soon as I have a definite yes or no. Most of the job seekers I’ve counseled claim their biggest pet peeve is not knowing.

    It’s kind of the band aid theory – rip it off quick and move on.

  6. Not So NewReader*

    I agree with Jubilance. I would rather know before the holiday than after. I can use the weekend to beef up my plan for my next steps and hit the ground running on Monday. The holiday itself offers me a minute to stop thinking about the whole job hunting process.

  7. nuqotw*

    I think it really depends on the placement of the holiday in the work week. For Thanksgiving – always a long weekend – there is an argument to be made both ways, though I myself am in the “reject me before the holiday so I can drown my sorrows in gravy” camp. For a holiday in the middle of the week, the sooner seems much better than later. On years when Christmas is a Friday, wait. When it’s a Wednesday, send that rejection ASAP.

  8. Malissa*

    Sooner is always better than later. Also when a rejection comes before a time when it’s socially acceptable to drink, well that’s even better!

  9. Jamie*

    I’m in the sooner rather than later camp – with the only exception being the holiday itself.

    I don’t want to check my phone during Christmas dinner to see a rejection come through then and there (yes, I check my phone during Christmas dinner…yes, I know I have a problem).

    But the day before? Absolutely sooner than later – I’m a worrier and not knowing is always so much worse for me than knowing. Once you know you swear, take a deep breath, and move on. Uncertainty is what kills me.

  10. Mints*

    I guess I’m in the minority, asking to wait until after.
    Exception: After an interview, when there was a clear timeline or even a vague “a few days.”

      1. Worker Bee*

        I think there is no solution that will please everyone because everyone deals with that kind of stuff differently.
        For instance I would prefer to know right away, if it was post application. But I would rather not know it if I was in the last round/ after several interviews bc a holiday is a holiday and I am able to completly let go of work, I am focused on family and friends etc. But a lot of people can’t and are anxious to find out.
        So I am sorry to say but there is no solution that will make evrybody happy

      2. Kristin*

        I’m firmly in the tell people now camp. Either way, the person did not get the job. I see delaying in this situation as similar to delivering bad news on Monday morning because you didn’t want to ruin someone’s weekend. If you tell a person s/he did not get the job before a holiday, that person can use the built in support offered by the holiday – food, family, & friends – to get over the disappointment faster. If you delay until after the holiday, the contrast between the happy holiday and the return to business as normal can contribute to a bigger letdown.

      3. Mints*

        You’re seriously so nice, it would be fine.
        I guess I’m thinking of a couple applications/first round phone screens I’m optimistic about.
        And for me personally, I don’t know if others feel the same, I like to have pre-thought out answers when family members ask about job prospects. It causes me anxiety sometimes, so I like to just have a quick run-down like “Yeah I was called about a position for a company that does XYZ in ABC big city. I haven’t interviewed yet, so nothing’s for sure, but it sounds good”
        I dunno, I guess I like to give immediate family members slightly inflated news because then one they reflect back to me good news I’ve been having, it makes me feel better.
        Does this all make me sound delusional? haha

      4. EJ*

        Or put another way, for every 1 person whose holiday would be better if you wait, there are 9 who whose holiday would be worse for not knowing. :)

    1. Meg Murry*

      I think the timeline part of it is important, too – if you are already past the deadline when you told someone they would be notified or the deadline would have been Thursday or Friday, I think its better to send the rejection today than waiting until Monday or later – I’d rather have the weekend to get over it, rather than get rejected on a Monday and have to go back to a whole week of a job I’m trying to leave.
      Or another option – can you write the rejection now and just take 2 minutes to send it Friday? Not ruining anyone’s Thanksgiving, still gives them a weekend to get over it.

    2. ARM2008*

      I’m with you, Mints. These days I don’t have high hopes for any application, but the rejection notice kills all hope of that job coming through.

      It’s not like anything relies on hearing back about an application or interview, so waiting another 1-4 days to hear back isn’t going to change much for me.

      Unless you wait around and cease all job hunting after submitting an application or interviewing – in that case I would have to guess that you haven’t dealt with the current job market very long!

  11. Mike C.*

    Tell people your decision as soon as you can. Yes, bad news sucks, but it sucks no matter the day of the week.

  12. Eric*

    Maybe acknowledge the possibly poor timing in the email but mention that you wanted to notify as soon as the decision was made?

    1. fposte*

      Or at least avoid appending a “Happy Thanksgiving!” to the note (and if there’s one in your signature, take it out).

      1. EM*

        Hmmm, I just told a client that a deliverable will be late, and ended the email with “Happy Thanksgiving”…

  13. Janet*

    Sooner rather than later! Let’s face it, with all of the family around it’s a good time to do some networking if you can. Or at least avoid being the person who tells everyone “Well, I did have an interview recently and I think it went really well” when you actually were rejected.

    1. littlemoose*

      That was my thought too – when I was underemployed, my relatives asked about my job search a lot, and I would hate to say “I just had a promising interview!” and then later get to tell them, “Nope, didn’t get it.” I’m in agreement with most of the other commenters, tell them sooner so they know and can move forward.

      1. Ellie H.*

        Really? Even if there’s not a good outcome, I think every circumstance in which you can realistically say “I just had a promising interview!” is never a bad thing. It’s like how it’s always exciting and pleasant when you meet someone with whom you hit it off, even if you don’t end up dating. (Another “IJLD” example) To me it all contributes to a positive atmosphere of growth.

  14. Colette*

    I once worked for a company that no longer exists. When they started going through layoffs, their one rule was that they wouldn’t lay anyone off on a Friday – on the theory that people dealt with layoffs better when they could get up the next day and start doing something about it.

    I’d be inclined to say the same applies here – two days before the holiday is OK, but the day before isn’t.

    But to answer the actual question, a rejection for a job you’ve applied/interviewed for is different, and I’d say that would be fine today. I’m not one to put all of my hopes in one job, though.

      1. Colette*

        I thought it was. It was a good company to work for – before the layoffs became a way of life – and I appreciate that they tried to make it as good as it could possibly be.

    1. Erika*

      I used to work for a company that had this rule. When I got laid off on a Monday morning, it made me annoyed because I had to drive thirty miles to work each day. My boss wanted to do it in person, which was a nice thought (and he was out that Friday), but because of the distance, it kinda flopped.

      I really would have preferred to know Friday afternoon so I wouldn’t have had to make one trip there and back just to get laid off. It seemed like the final kick, to have to waste my time and money and gas just for that.

      1. Colette*

        I can see that in a way – but you still would have had to drive in on Friday to be laid off, right? You presumably got paid for at least some part of Monday, and any insurance, notice, etc. would possibly have lasted that much longer.

        1. Erika*

          That’s the thing – I didn’t get paid for that day. And, to cap it off, they screwed up my exit things in a way that kept me from being able to enroll in COBRA. I probably had the basis for an annoying lawsuit but chose to funnel my efforts into looking for a new job, instead.

          Their HR lady never did like me. I still think that was part of the reason everything was handled the way it was.

          1. ARM2008*

            Gee, I wonder if we worked for the same company! “Your medical benefits will run through the end of the month.” This month? “Yes.” Isn’t tomorrow the end of the month. “Yes.”

            I had to contact them and insist that they submit my termination info so that I could get COBRA.

            This is the type of thing that causes me to TRY to give 2 weeks notice when leaving a job, but not feeling like scum if I can’t.

    2. fposte*

      I’ve heard this and I definitely see the point, but I also think there’s something to be said for giving people a few days away from the workplace to process this kind of bad news. I had bad job news just before going out of town once, and it was great not to have to be a mature adult in front of the people involved for a while. But then I’m speaking as somebody who would be unlikely to do something right away anyway, so a weekend would give me an official semi-guiltless out.

      Though I’m thinking of “giving notice” layoffs, not “don’t come back again” layoffs.

      1. Colette*

        Well, in this case, you weren’t expected to work after you got laid off, but you had access to the building for a month, and another month as an employee without building access.

        In the “you’re losing your job in a month” type of layoff, a Friday might be a better choice.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s actually a whole debate about this around preventing workplace violence. There’s one school of thought that if you fire someone on a Friday, they have the weekend to calm down and process it and are less likely to show up at your workplace with a gun the next day. There’s a different school of thought that says they’ll spend the weekend stewing because they can’t start reaching out to business contacts and otherwise moving forward, and thus are more likely to show up with a gun on Monday.

      Also: Ugh.

      1. Colette*

        It’s always painful, and I’d hope that they were concerned about workplace violence, because I was laid off 6 years after the layoff started, and it wasn’t over for another couple of years. I was definitely concerned about it. :)

        The problem with trying to avoid doing that kind of thing around the holidays is that you can talk yourself out of doing anything from mid-November until January. It’s not good for anyone, and in my experience, December is actually a good time to be job hunting.

      2. Long Time Admin*

        Workplace violence is a reality these days.

        We have *a lot* of disgruntled ex-employees, due to layoffs. I look at our pretty glass doors that lock but are not bullet proof, and wonder where I would run to be safe if one of them came visiting with his hunting rifles. Or if the Walking Dead came wandering through.

        1. JessB*

          Why don’t you ask someone? Try to get the glass in the doors changed to tougher glass? Or even one-way glass or just get it tinted? In case of a zombie apocalypse, you need to know what to do.

          Note that I’m not trying to make light of workplace violence, but encouraging you to plan for what might happen. If there was a serious issue, wouldn’t you be safer if you could leave that area un-seen? I work in an office at a University, and we have disaster plans for dealing with irate students right through to mentally ill or violent students. Every now and then we’ll role play something and see who does best. It’s why you practise your fire plan, to make sure that in a ‘real, live’ emergency, you know what to do.

          Take care.

          1. Long Time Admin*

            I really appreciate your comments. I am a “planner”, and I like to make contingency plans for all kinds of things.

            We do have safe restrooms. All the stalls are tile over concrete block, floor to ceiling, and have locking wood doors. That’s the first place I would go in an emergency (we’re in tornado alley, too).

      3. KarenT*

        I remember working once for a company who had a policy never to lay anybody off on a Thursday or Friday. In other words you had to do your firings Monday through Wednesday. Their reason was that if someone was fired and felt they needed counseling or was distraught it is much more likely they would be able to find help services during the week than on the weekend

      4. Zee*

        Then there was that incident back in August in New York City – the shooter was laid off a year ago. He and another coworker had issues with one another, to put it mildly, and he blamed the former coworker for his job loss.

      5. Anonymous*

        Planning your firing day-of-the-week around a very narrow and extreme possibility like that is just plain crazy talk. Businesses should take workplace violence seriously, but there’s a line between “reasonable policies and preventative measures” and “outright raging paranoia” and that kind of discussion is way over in paranoia land.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t think it’s crazy for people to try to be thoughtful about this type of thing.

          Although frankly, the best way to prevent workplace violence is to treat people with kindness and dignity, even when they’re being fired or laid off.

    4. PJ*

      I disagree about the Friday rule. I’d rather have a couple of days to lick my wounds and come up with a strategy going forward, and having the news on Friday gives me the chance to do that, and hit the ground running on Monday morning. Admit it — getting laid off is a gut punch, even if you see it coming. A little breathing room is a good thing.

      1. Colette*

        It’s true that getting laid off is always stressful and traumatic – but I think how people react to it is different. I need a plan, and being laid off on Friday would be really stressful because I’d feel like I was in flux until Monday, but I can understand that not everyone would feel that way.

  15. M*

    As soon as possible! The agony of uncertainty is generally worse than waiting. Not knowing WILL ruin the holiday.

  16. Sasha*

    I vote for before. I don’t like waiting, so the sooner the better. Also, many people spend time with friends and family during the holiday, and those friends and family will be asking how the job application/interview went. I would rather inform them of a rejection and be able to move on, than tell them I’m still waiting, and we engage in application/interview scrutinizing and it just gets my hopes up higher.

    But that’s just me and my herd. It could be way different for others.

    1. Long Time Admin*

      Plus, if you know before the family celebrations, they’ll all be sympathetic and your aunts or grandma will tell you how short-sighted these idiots are for not recognizing what a superior employee you would be.

  17. Joey*

    As long as you don’t end your rejection emails with some cheery holiday salutation like “happy holidays” I think the sooner the better.

    1. Sasha*

      Ah yes – happy holidays seems benign but I think it would feel like kicking me while I’m down on a rejection notice.

  18. kristinyc*

    Yes, I agree with the majority here.

    It might be pretty awful for someone who maybe doesn’t see their families often, and the main “news” they have to report to their family is, “Well, I had an interview on Monday, and I think it went really well…” and spend the whole weekend being nervous/ telling your family about this job you hope you get…. and then finding out you didn’t get it. But hearing about it beforehand would at least give you time to process the news/network with extended family, etc.

    I was on the flip side of this a few years ago – I got a full-time offer for the job I had been temping at for months the day before Thanksgiving , and I was excited to be able to come home to my family that lived 2 hours away with good news! If they had waited until the following Monday to officially make the offer, I would have been all like, “Yep, still a temp. Still don’t have health insurance. Still feel bad about my life.” Not exactly a happy holiday…

    1. Nicole*

      Exactly what I was thinking too. At least if you know you didn’t get the job, you can just avoid bringing it up.

  19. Annamaison*

    The last rejection I got was on my birthday! Granted, the hiring manager had no way of knowing she was calling me on my birthday. It did put a bit of a damper on my day, but I totally agree with previous posters that knowing is better than the anxiety – holiday, birthday or not.

  20. Rob Bird*

    I think it’s best to do it as soon as possible. While a lot of people may be disappointed they didn’t get the job, let’s not forget about the one (or more) that did get the job and have good news to tell their families.

    People need closure and I think waiting until the day after the holiday (or the Monday after) is not in very good form.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, to be clear, these people are going to get closure either way — it’s not a question of whether to reject them, but when. And either way, they’re hearing from me a lot faster than they do with most employers, usually within days of our last contact.

      (Just didn’t want you to think I’d ever leave someone hanging.)

  21. Blinx*

    I’ve gotten a few post-application rejection this week, MONTHS after I applied. Honestly, if a few weeks go by and I haven’t heard from a company, I’ve already moved on. So a day or two either way wouldn’t make a difference.

    Post-interview, notify ASAP regardless of holidays. Folks might have a few things up in the air and it would help them decide. What’s infuriating is when you hear nothing, especially after they tell you a timeline for decisions, and still nothing. Ugh!

  22. Erika*

    I would definitely rather get a rejection before the holiday as my family will ask me at family gatherings how a job search is going, and I’d rather have concrete news to give them than speculation. But I also don’t tend to get very hurt if I’m not hired for a position, even if I really want it.

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t get hurt either. I’ve certainly been dissociated and have been known to built up a job into an awesome ideal if I’m in the running – but I don’t get personally hurt if it doesn’t work out. And I move remarkably fast from that awesome ideal to knowing for a fact I’d have been miserable there and it’s full of people who chew loudly, smell bad, and have no respect for IT.

      My inner self is nothing if not supportive and accommodating whatever delusion makes me happy at the time.

      1. Erika*


        Nerd alert – there’s a really good TED talk out there about how your brain adjusts to whatever is handed to you and begins to perceive it as the best possible outcome of a scenario once it’s happened. Wish I could remember who it was so I could refer you to it.

        1. Ellie H.*

          That sounds so interesting. Please do post it if you can recall it! (I just tried a bit of googling and didn’t find it.) I love observing phenomena like that. I am a big believer in “the next thing is always better” and to constantly remind ourselves how adaptable we are.

  23. Stephanie*

    I agree, better sooner than later. If the rejection happened to be especially disappointing, I’d appreciate being able to use the holiday time to reflect, digest, discuss (either with friends/family or quietly to myself) and move forward.

  24. Louis*

    Unless the person specifically mention to wait before giving the news, I would say give the news ASAP… rejection or lay off, the sooner you give the news the more time give the person to adapt to the situation.

    If you know you will lay off a person after the holliday, it’s not kind to wait. There is a slight chance that the person will miss an opportunity between the time you could have told him and the time you really did.

    The one exception would be if you are giving a lay off package… If you give two weeks pay once you give the news, he has less chance of finding something in the hollidays. But then if you are willing to postpone the lay off for two more week, then just give two more weeks of warning.

  25. Taria*

    ASAP for me. I have 2 jobs that I am in the final round for that I won’t hear from until next week. Not only is the stress of not knowing driving me crazy, but now I have to deal with family asking “how is the job hunt going” and “did you get X job?” and not having an answer. It somehow seems worse to try to explain I don’t know, because then they want to ask if I think I got it, go over the interview and try to pick out signs one way or another, etc. I’d rather know so I can say “No, they wanted someone with more experience” and move on.

  26. Chocolate Teapot*

    Another person who believes in sooner rather than later. However, my normal course of action is to send off an application having had an interview (or rejection). It feels better knowing that I have increased the number of “irons in the fire”.

  27. Julie*

    I once got 5 rejections letters in the mail in different envelops on the day before Thanksgiving. (Same job 5 different locations with the state gov. I sent in one application but interviewed at all 5 locations.)

    I would have hated that Thanksgiving. however, I had been called earlier in the day with a job offer that I prefered. I don’t know if it was the timing or the 5 envelops. Now it just makes for a great story.

  28. melle*

    There are lots of people who don’t even do holidays, and there are lots of people who are just applying in multiple places who weren’t enthusiastic in the first place.

    But if they were really really really hoping for that specific job?? Oh man, I don’t know. It would suck terribly before or after the holiday. Would I rather be miserable and silent during the holiday, or would I rather be excited, telling family and friends about how much I was hoping for that job only to be really embarrassed afterward when I have to tell them that I wasn’t good enough?

    It would be hard to resist mentioning the job application I’m excited about in a room where everyone wants to hear good news about my life. I think I’d rather skip the embarrassment and pity and be rejected ahead of time :/

  29. Cara Carroll*

    I agree with almost everyone here, sooner rather than later or not at all! As an HR Manager I try and send my rejections out soon as I know something. However, I have a lot of friends so do not agree and think to send them too quickly is rude, or the ones who would sooner not hear back at all. These are mainly recent college grads I am speaking of, I guess those who have not dealt with a lot of rejection in the job force just yet do not feel the way most of us here feel.

    1. Anonymous*

      Fastest I was ever rejected for a job was before I applied. It was in the dark ages of doing everything by paper and post. I wrote off for the official application form – simple request, no incriminating details – and got “thank you for your application but we have decided not to proceed with it at this time” by return of post. I took it that someone pulled up the wrong template, but it gave me a measure of what truly is indecent haste.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        This happen recently to me instead in the new age of create an account and submit everything online -applitrack. I applied for a few positions at an organization on applitrack. I tailored each responses to question accordingly; do it wouldn’t appear generic. I forgot to hit submit for one of the positions. So technically I didn’t apply but the website states that hiring managers would have access to the information on the site. In short, I received a email rejection for “the position I never applied for” shortly after the closing date

        1. Waiting Patiently*

          I also chalked it up to maybe they thought I was careless and lacked attention to deadlines. Either way it was a simple mistake that may have cost me an interview. It would’ve been a much long commute and I wasn’t too thrilled about adding an hour and half to my commute time. Self sabotage? Hmm

    2. Blinx*

      I got a rejection the same day I applied for the job. That’s a little too quick for me!

      I job I interviewed for several times rejected me the day after the last interview. Quick, but it makes sense, and I’d still rather not be left waiting, not knowing.

  30. Lacey*

    I’m going to express the minority opinion as well – I’ve gotten a few rejections just before holidays, and while it didn’t ruin anything, it did make me a bit more sad and bitter. And I’d rather have hope to share with my family than rejection, with everyone pitying me and giving me unsolicited advice about job hunting. Though, this is more true for post-interview rejections than post-application – I have less invested in just an application.

    Since a lot of people are mentioning family support, or drowning sorrows in gravy or whatnot, it’s worth remembering that some people don’t have family support, or aren’t able to be with their families for the holidays, and so might be a little more emotionally fragile at holiday times. I’m not sure whether the Monday after would be much better, though.

  31. E*

    Well, I’m waiting for a few rejections right now (I interviewed months ago, and I KNOW that by now they’ve had to have moved forward with other candidates), and every day I check my email, anxious just to see a REJECTION email, and I get a little more bitter and disappointed when I don’t. I mean, you know you don’t want to move forward with me, I know you don’t want to move forward with me, let’s just all be professional, respectful adults, and get that rejection over with. That way, I can mentally move on and focus on other options, and you can check something off of your to-do list.

    1. Sasha*

      Yes yes YES! I’m used to not hearing back now from applications but I didn’t receive a rejection for some freelance work I quote for a person recently. For some reason it really bummed me out that she didn’t respond…she just ceased contact. I guess my clue should have been that she seemed overly concerned about fees and had little interest in actually discussing details of the freelance work with me.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      E, I totally agree with you that this is rude and callous behavior, BUT please, please do yourself a favor, decide you’ve been rejected, and move on. Otherwise you’re making yourself so much more anxious than you need to be. (And if they do end up contacting you later, it can be a nice surprise.) You have nothing to lose by deciding to move on, and peace of mind to lose if you don’t!

      1. E*

        AAM, you’re totally right. I tend to be a little obsessive and anxious about things in general, so I could always use the reminder to just let things go. Thanks for the perspective!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Since I don’t expect any notifications for an application, this is exactly what I do. I put all my apps in a spreadsheet and color code them. Purple is No Reply, blue is No (they rejected me), yellow In Progress, and orange means I rejected them for some reason. I have had to change a couple of them back to yellow from purple already!

        1. Sasha*

          I like this idea. Good way to keep organized, also have a sense of control over situations where you often have no control once that puppy is sent into the ether. At least you can check the spreadsheet for some peace of mind.

          1. Anonymous*

            It will also serve as a convenient list of places you don’t want to work. There are a number of places (UC Boulder being one which really comes to mind) where they’d have to make a seriously good impression on me during any future interview for me to consider accepting any offer – precisely because of a failure to send a rejection email.

            1. The gold digger*

              A company actually flew me 1,000 miles for a morning of interviews, took me to lunch, and then never contacted me again. I still wonder what I said in that interview that was so horrible that they couldn’t even email me.

        2. JessB*

          Elizabeth West, I love this idea! It really appeals to both my love of Excel and my librarian mind. Do you mind if I do the same thing?

    3. Zee*

      I had interviewed for a job three years ago. I have not been officially rejected (i.e. a letter, email, or phone call) by that employer. I’m sure I’m long out of the running! I laugh it off, but in the back of my mind, I keep a mental note on them about this. I remember the interviewer’s name, and as long as I see him as a part of that organization, I will avoid it.

  32. Hannah*

    I’d rather know beforehand, too.

    If it was just an app rejection (no interview), that wouldn’t bother me at all.

    But even if I had interviewed, I would probably feel a little sad, but I’d rather know and move on than be wondering over the entire holiday.

  33. Hannah*

    If I was job hunting around Thanksgiving, I really wouldn’t want to tell my family about the great job I was in the running for, only to have to explain next time I see the family at Christmas that I didn’t get the job. Once the decision is made, it’s better to know and move on.

    People could always avoid checking their email right before the holiday, if they really don’t want to know. (I could never do this, the suspense would kill me, but maybe some people have more willpower.)

    1. Sasha*

      Yet another reason I like to have a separate email account for job hunting. If I did choose to put it out of my mind until the holidays were over, it would be easier to avoid seeing it in my inbox or checking my personal email every 5 min.

    2. Rana*

      Agreed. I’d rather just share the bad news and drop the subject than be excited and have my family get excited for me… only to have to explain to them later that I got rejected. Dealing with other people’s premature excitement and subsequent disappointment is so much harder than dealing with my own.

    3. Blinx*

      Just a little public service announcement here to all friends and relatives… if someone you know is job hunting, especially if they’re unemployed, DON’T bring up the topic when you see them during holidays. If they want you to know how it’s going, they’ll bring it into the conversation themselves. *thanks*

    4. ARM2008*

      Not checking their email in case they got a rejection? Would you give a special email for rejections so that you can check the email regarding possible interviews? I don’t think this idea will work really well.

      Today is the day before Thanksgiving and I was contacted for an interview next week on Tues. Would have hated to put off reading that message.

  34. Jamie*

    Seems like this is another area where it’s just like dating.

    I’ve known people who put off breakups until after the holidays because they are trying to be kind. Now, I’m not saying waking up on Christmas morning and cheerily dumping a long time partner is the way to go…but if someone doesn’t want to be with me it would make it much worse if, after we broke up, I had to look back and remember how they humored me over the holiday. Christmas is stressful enough without injecting pity into it.

  35. mirror*

    I’m in the very tiny minority. I’d rather wait and get an interview/application rejection after the holidays. For me, it would be much more fun to tell my family about my job prospects during the holiday, than to tell them “nope, didnt get this job either…still looking…*make up excuse about why I still have hope*” during a time when things should be upbeat and happy.

    1. TL*

      I’m in this exact position right now – waiting to hear back from a job I interviewed for – and I heartily agree, for precisely this reason. Personally, it wouldn’t bother *me* too greatly to get a rejection before a holiday. (Christmas excepted: see below.) I’d rather know as soon as possible. However, it’s SO much better to have something positive to tell family and friends at the holiday get-together! I can truthfully say that I interviewed and am waiting to hear back from an employer, instead of trying to put a cheerful face on the fact that I interviewed and was rejected, AGAIN.

      Christmas, on the other hand, would be trickier. Christmas Eve is nearly as much of a holiday to me as Christmas, and I’d rather not get any rejections on that day. Two days before, on the other hand, would be fine.

      In fact, I think my general preference would be to receive a rejection two or more days before any holiday. If the hiring manager made the decision the day before, or the day of (yikes!), I’d rather receive it afterwards.

  36. Steve Martin*

    Post-application rejection: any time. Post-interview rejection: I’m in the minority; I’d rather have my hope & higher spirits over the holiday. It wouldn’t ruin my holiday to have the day-before rejection, but in my perfect world I’d get it on Monday.

  37. Joey*

    I know the discussion is around rejections, but don’t stop job hunting around the holidays. Im getting less resumes this week than I normally do.

    1. Blinx*

      As someone getting unemployment compensation, I have to apply for 3 jobs a week, holidays or no holidays. So can I appeal to all companies out there to keep posting jobs through the holidays? Please? I’ll apply!

  38. Elizabeth West*

    Another vote for before. Just tell me; don’t leave me hanging.

    I got a rejection this morning. Had a message yesterday and called back this morning, only to be told “We went with someone else.” An email would have been fine; from the vague “call me” message I thought I had at least a second interview. :{ Not too disappointed, though. It was the low end of what I wanted in pay and clear across town.

    1. Elizabeth*

      The way they rejected you seems non-ideal in general. I’m not a fan of delivering rejections over the phone/in person, because it doesn’t allow the person private time to absorb the information before having to put on some kind of “it’s okay” face. I sometimes cry when facing major disappointments; I’d rather not have to battle back tears when talking to someone I wanted to work with. Even worse for them to get your hopes up by leaving a “call us!” message! (I am glad you weren’t that disappointed, but they didn’t know that would be the case.)

      An exception: If you’ve applied for an internal promotion and not been accepted, it could be kinder for your manager to deliver that news in person. This is only for when you already have a relationship with the person who’s delivering the rejection, though.

      1. nyxalinth*

        I had Starbucks do that to me a few years ago! They wanted someone with more experience, and they knew I didn’t have experience to begin with, so I sensed a BS reason, and moved on.

    2. Anonymous*

      I had worse than that once – email exchange to set up a phone call where I was immediately told I didn’t get job. When I had to go home early to speak on the phone in private….

  39. Holly*

    I wouldn’t think that it was rude or unkind to receive a rejection before a holiday, but personally I would rather enjoy my holiday with a little hope than get the rejection right before. But I think it’s far more relevant when you’re unemployed; if you’re just shopping around but not feeling like everything is riding on every interview, it’s much easier to deal with rejection.

  40. nyxalinth*

    My second call center job did a big swath of layoffs the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and half the remaining people walked.

    Here’s what happened: I was lucky enough to have that holiday off. I come in Tuesday, and most everyone is gone, the call queue is through the roof and staying there (previously, we would hit 20-30 in queue during peak times, and go 4-5 minutes between calls when it was slow). I asked my supervisor what happened, and she told me “the bigwigs from Main Client came in yesterday and told everyone they were pulling the contract, and people could work directly for them if they passed the interview. Then the bigwigs here at Call Center laid half of us off, and half the remainder just picked up and left.” I was fired shortly after, because I broke a “Don’t transfer people, make them call back” rule that had just went into place because of this. I took a chance thinking I’d just get a write-up because I wanted to do the right thing for the customer (he’d called several times and still his issue wasn’t fixed) and they caught me. At no point was it said that this would result in an immediate firing.

    There was no warning to any of us. I’ll just say it was the telecommunications company in the Denver area before it underwent two name changes since this happened in 1999.

    1. nyxalinth*

      Oh and the relevance is that they could have done this on a non-holiday week, AND given us some warning! Also, Sucky Call Center went under because of this.

  41. jesicka309*

    I tend to build up the job in the mind the longer I wait. As the days go by, I start imagining what my life would be like if I got the job etc.
    So I’m always an advocate of tell them as soon as you know. Sure, it could ruin your thanksgiving/christmas for one day, but waiting until after just ensures that my disappointment is A MILLION times worse.

  42. KayDay*

    If the person has been interviewed, I am definitely in the sooner rather than later camp, although I would really urge you to get the rejections out a couple of days before and not literally the day before. By the time someone has interviewed, they are a bit more invested in the job. I would just imagine someone sitting at dinner and talking up the wonderful job they might get….ugh. Also, in my particular case, our family holidays tend to be rather quiet, so if I’m looking for a new job, my days off are very valuable for searching for openings and writing cover letters (and having my super-spelling, grammar-goddess mother proof-read them.)

    If the person just sent in an application but hasn’t been contacted beyond that, I think it’s best to wait (but of course, do send the rejection soon afterwards!). At that point, they haven’t invested too much and probably aren’t expecting an immediate response (I never expect a prompt response unless I interview).

  43. AF*

    I actually kind of prefer after, and not the day before. I agree that it helps if you can have the following day be a business day so you can do something constructive, or if you’re laid off, you can file for unemployment. Maybe I’m just sensitive in that way, but if it’s more than 1 day before the holiday, just tell me. And I wholeheartedly +1 everyone who said that we job seekers just want to know SOMETHING – I had a 5TH interview for a senior-level job 6 weeks ago and have heard nothing about a decision (and I followed up!). Rude rude rude!!

  44. Laura L*

    If it’s post-interview, I’d rather get an email after the holiday because I know I’d dwell on it over the weekend.

    If it’s just post-application, it doesn’t matter to me. Those aren’t as disappointing (at least to me).

  45. Andor*

    +1 for the ‘sooner’: just imagine a situation, where someone’s awaiting for a feedback from a ‘dream job’ company / role – possibly turning off or just ignoring other offers / adverts, since ‘I’m going for the primary one, wouldn’t be fair to apply for other one, just to have those as ‘secondary’ and so spare.’ – If he / she knows right in time that there’s nothing to wait for. Probably this makes the candidate find _another_ ‘dream job / dream company’ which he / she wouldn’t notice otherwise?

  46. Another Job Seeker*

    I’d rather know ASAP. Last week, I received notification that I was not going to receive a position I had applied for (I had not interviewed). I wish things were different, but I’m enjoying my holiday. And I’m re-energized to kick up my job search a notch or two. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

  47. Diane*

    I want to know sooner rather than later, but I need a day to sulk and move on. So tell me two days before a holiday, not the day before.

  48. Julia*

    People who are applying for jobs often have a lot of applications on the go at one time. For all you know, they have an offer that would be their second choice and they’re stringing that employer along until they hear from you. Sooner is better.

  49. Laura*

    The best way I ever saw this handled was at a large software company I worked for about 8 years ago. They had to lay some people off in the consulting division, and it was right before Christmas. At the end of November/beginning of December, they were told that they had until the end of the year to line up another internal gig (by reaching out to PM’s and other consultants they’d worked with on other projects, etc) but if they were unable to find something then they’d be let go after the first of the year.

    I really thought that was a great way to handle it, and it helped soften the blow a little. The people getting laid off had time to try and find something else internally, and/or put together a Plan B, knew before Christmas so they could plan their holiday accordingly, and they were at least able to keep getting a paycheck through the end of the year. I thought it was the most compassionate way to deal with a difficult situation.

  50. Sara*

    Interesting question… I’d have to agree with most people & say I would prefer to get the email before holidays so that I can be more relaxed (even if I’m upset, I can recuperate with holiday food!) as for post-interview rejection versus post-app. I think it hurts more post-interview because interviews just feel so much more serious & like you have a chance. When it’s just an application I always remind myself that there are probably 100s of people applying (better suited than me of course) so I keep lower expectations on my liklihood of actually getting it.

  51. Aaron*

    I’d prefer after, but this is hair-splitting–either should be fine, and we’re all adults.

    Post-interview, it’s possible candidates are stalling on other job offers to hear back from you, which I think actually trumps as a consideration. They should tell you this, and shouldn’t count chickens, but what if they don’t act optimally and decline some other offer before you get back to them? This blog has certainly shown me people do crazy things while job-hunting!

  52. Miss Displaced*

    Definitely it’s not “kinder to wait.”
    I would rather know ASAP and not be stewing about it all holiday.

  53. Waiting Patiently*

    The sooner the better. It sure beats trying to remain excited about prospects of a new job as the holidays looms closer. This really touched home for me. I submitted an application on Sept 7th for a entry level job at an agency then went on an interview on Oct 17th. I was hoping to hear something even a rejection letter by mid November. Luckily I ‘m employed. After reading the post, I wonder if they are waiting until after the holidays to soften the blow.

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