do you really need to send rejections to candidates who you’re not even interviewing?

A reader writes:

I work in a small office and I recently hired someone for a general admin position. I’m in an industry that’s really hard to break into, so I got a lot of resumes quickly. After I reached a few hundred applicants and had found at least 15-20 who I thought would be great, I had took the ad offline and started getting in touch with people. I found someone amazing and she’s started and she’s doing really well, so, yay.

My question is about sending out “rejection” emails to everyone else. I did send emails to anyone I had emailed or spoken with, interviewed, or if they had a personal connection with another staff member or friend and had come to me through them. I don’t want to leave people hanging. But do I need to email everyone else? I hate sending out mass emails, but doing it individually would take forever. I know how much it sucks to be on the other end, but now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t remember getting many of those emails when I was applying for jobs that didn’t go anywhere. Whats the proper response here?

You can read my answer to this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and often updating/expanding my answers to them).

{ 113 comments… read them below }

  1. BRR

    I would much rather get a rejection email than hear nothing at all. Just because many employers don’t do this doesn’t make it right. Send the rejection and consider yourself to be more professional than the others.

    1. Lucy

      THIS THIS THIS. Just because it’s the norm doesn’t mean you have to go along with it. As a candidate it’s nice to get a definite yes or no, especially if it was a position I was really interested in…..makes it easier to move on either way.

      1. Michelle

        Totally agree. When I started in my current position (admin assistant), my employer did not send rejections letters/emails. Like Alison’s suggestion, I created a very simple, polite form letter, had the boss sign off on it and started sending or emailing it out. Many candidates actually replied, thanking us for letting them know.

        1. GOG11

          +1

          I am assisting with hiring someone in our Dept. and I am the one communicating with candidates, though I don’t call the shots. I am so glad that my boss did some research and decided that sending a polite rejection email was the way to go. In my case, too, a lot of the candidates thanked me for letting them know.

    2. hannah

      Why not state on the job ad that if you don’t hear back by X DATE after submitting your application then unfortunately you have not been successful? Saves everyone a lot of time. And you should still contact anyone (either to reject or offer) whom you’ve interviewed or spoken/corresponded with directly.

      this seems fairly standard in the UK and I think it’s a good compromise?

      1. Jcsgo

        Unfortunately with my current employer, their hiring process would make it difficult for them to set a date. They’re just very slow with it all (so much so that often candidates don’t even respond, once the company has indicated its interest in them!)

  2. TCO

    Sending rejection letters is an easy way to build goodwill for your company. Job seekers do remember who provided courteous communication during the hiring process (even if they weren’t interviewed). They might be a great fit for your next opening, or know someone who is. Having a reputation as a good place to apply/interview will always work in your favor.

    I still remember, many years and three jobs ago, exactly who didn’t ever follow up with me after I came in for an interview, and I’d be uneasy applying at that company (or at least that department) again. From my more recent job search, I remember which places sent a rejection and which didn’t. Taking a few minutes to send that communication will set you above many employers, and the best candidates are careful to choose the best employers.

    1. Oryx

      This. I had a phone + in person interview with a somewhat idolized local company and only found out I didn’t get the job when a friend in the same industry posted on FB that she did. I never heard a word from them and it might be petty but it did knock them off their pedestal a bit for me.

    2. Not Today Satan

      I mostly interview with nonprofits, and it’s truly amazing how many of them don’t bother to get back to me even after the interview stage. Maybe it’s petty, but I’ve mentally compiled a list of organizations to never donate to.

      1. SevenSixOne

        Companies would to well to realize that every single one of their applicants is a potential customer or donor too. I have a handful of companies that will never get any of my money because their application/interview process was so awful.

        1. Natalie

          And they know even more potential donors/customers. My boyfriend interviewed at a company that happens to provide a service my company uses. They said they were going to offer him a job, set a meeting to present it (why? I don’t know), rescheduled the meeting twice and then went silent despite a couple of follow ups. Guess who I’m not inclined to hire for this particular service?

        2. Suzanne

          And that everyone of those applicants has friends and family who will hear about the lack of follow up. Word will spread.

        3. blackcat

          On the flip side, there are companies that I specifically seek out because I’ve known people who worked there and had nothing but good things to say.

        4. BananaPants

          My husband went to three interviews with a local recruiting firm for an in-house position. After a final interview that was over 6 hours long (at which he was told he was one of five final candidates for two positions), submitting an essay/writing sample, taking several personality tests, etc., he never heard another word from the firm. Of course they SAID that he’d be hearing from them regardless within a week. He waited a week longer and sent a followup email to the hiring manager with zero response, so he moved on mentally. Three weeks later he noted the two apparently-successful candidates who popped up with that job title on the firm’s LinkedIn group.

          The kicker is that it’s a boutique firm which specializes in placements in my field – because they did not have the decency to send a polite one or two line rejection email to a candidate who interviewed for a job working for their firm, I will NEVER use them for my own job search and have told every engineer I work with to steer clear of them. I don’t want to work with rude people.

    3. Anonsie

      A friend of mine puts it this way: People applying for jobs are part of your network and often your customer or donor base, so you need to remember how your handling of the hiring process reflects on your company.

      I don’t begrudge companies that don’t send any replies (since it’s so exceptionally common) but I do remember from every job search I’ve ever had which companies did reply, how, and what they said. Rather than seeing it as an issue of whether or not people will be upset if you don’t, see it as an opportunity to make a good impression when you do.

  3. Job Hunt Newbie

    Given that you have hundreds of candidates, I personally don’t see it necessary to email every single one.
    I’m assuming that you have contacted the 15-20 people who you were interested in contacting.

    I personally don’t take offense if I never receive a response back for a job application. I know that employers are getting overwhelmed with responses, and they can’t respond to everyone. Silence = move on to the next application. When I do receive a rejection, it is appreciated, but I don’t feel it necessary at that stage.

    However, if I was initially contacted for a screen, phone interview, or in-person interview, I absolutely believe you absolutely should follow up.

    1. BRR

      I know silence has become normal but even with so many emails to send I consider it being professional. You don’t need anything fancy.

      1. SevenSixOne

        Seriously. A form letter saying “Thanks for your interest, but we’ve decided to hire another candidate.” goes a long way.

        1. Lucy

          It doesn’t even have to mention hiring somebody else – a simple “we’re not moving forward with your application” is all I need to know!

    2. Not Here or There

      I did a lot of recruitment work for a previous job. I had the occasional job opening and bi-annual recruitment for an internship-type program. We did not have HR in that small office or any kind of recruitment software. I would get hundreds of applications for each of the various things I put out there. One particular job ad netted over 700 applicants, and yet I still made sure to send rejection letters to all of them, even though I had to do it the “old fashioned way” without the aide of any sort of recruitment software. I had a spreadsheet with all of the applicants, names and contact info (and notes on each candidate and where they were in process, as was applicable), that way I could easily sort through them, and was able to quickly put together a list to send out the rejection form letter. Sure, it may have taken a little extra time on my part, but I personally hate sending something out and getting no response and an hour or two of my time was worth upholding my companies’ reputation.

      1. Zahra

        Heck, with that and Word, you can do a mail merge for the emails! It’s even faster than copy-pasting.

        1. Not Here or There

          I would use outlook to create a contact group from the excel sheet. The excel sheet was just an easy way to ensure that all the applications were reviewed and that I didn’t miss any one in communications.

    3. Steve G

      But some people apply very selectively so it’s just weird if you don’t hear back. I only am applying to jobs doing the same exact type of analysis I did at other jobs, sometimes even in very similar industries……….and I usually meet 90%+ of the requirements for jobs I apply for……..so if I don’t hear anything back, it’s weird.

      I mean, if the job is doing pricing analysis for a medical supplies company w/ experience with 2-3 programs I am skilled in,, and that is what you’re job is, I think “great not only do I meet the requirements, but I’ve done the same work in the same kind of company!” I think the phone is going to ring any minute. So it’s really odd to get radio silence………..

    4. Rin

      Yeah, by the time I get the rejection letter or email, it’s 3 weeks later, and I’ve already assumed I’m not chosen, but I guess it’s nice to have closure?

  4. grasshopper

    Yes. Send them something. Consider that your current batch of rejected candidates could be future candidates and future customers/donors, so treat them well. I still bear grudges against companies that responded poorly to job applications, have forgotten many of the ones that never responded, and think fondly of the ones that responded well.

    Sending any response, even a mass rejection, will earn you lots of good will for the future. Putting yourself in the candidate’s shoes is a decent, humane thing to do.

    1. Jessa

      Just please remember to use BCC and not put everyone’s email out in public when you do a mass rejection email.

  5. Oryx

    Considering some jobs hire within a couple weeks and others take several months, that silence of not hearing could mean so many things so getting a quick email that lets you know you’re out of the running is very much appreciated.

  6. Adam

    Getting a rejection notice when all I’ve done is sent in my application is nice and appreciated (as I’m still not at the point where I can completely expunge a job I’m optimistic about from my head after I’ve done my part), but I don’t begrudge people/companies if they don’t at that stage. I figure so many people are applying in my area at my level that I would not be surprised if the number applicants was in the dozens if not 100+. And it takes time to respond to all of those so I can understand if the company would rather not.

    It’s when we’ve had some measure of back and forth an you go radio silent that I’m going to start looking at you with narrowed eyebrows.

    1. the gold digger

      When you have flown me to your city and I have spent all day with you. Yeah, I guess I blew it – you didn’t make me an offer – but was I that awful that you couldn’t even send me a rejection email?

    2. Anon369

      Agreed. I had 500 applicants for one position recently. Most of them clearly had not read the description of the position or what we are seeking in candidates. I’m a big fan of “do the right thing” but I don’t feel an obligation to respond to all of these people that we aren’t moving forward.

      1. Steve G

        I signed up for linkedin premium, and it tells you how many people applied to each job, and how many are entry level vs. senior vs. manager. I am applying to senior non-mgt jobs, and many of them have 20-30% entry level candidates. I’m not sure why they are applying to jobs asking for a minimum 5 year experience with many things. I mean, maybe it made sense a few years ago (from desperation), but I myself and seeing ad after ad here in NYC for jobs requiring 0-2 or 1-2 yrs. experience, and many pay OK, so it’s not like there aren’t other jobs to apply to.

        Of course, maybe linkedin just doesn’t work, who knows

    3. Elizabeth West

      Same here. One employer sent me a letter to tell me they got over 200 applications and to thank me for applying. A. LETTER. I felt truly sorry for the admin who had to handle that mailing.

      Since most places have online apps and/or collect resumes via email these days, it’s no trick to create a list and send out a generic rejection. At least it acts as a benchmark for them–they can tick that box off on their application list and move on.

      ABSOLUTELY send something if you’ve interviewed them, however. This is how companies get on my No Way list.

      1. Friendly Neighborhood HR Rep

        I got a snail-mail rejection letter from MIT (of all places!) for a low-level admin assistant job a few years ago. They sent it to all applicants (and the letter stated there were over 300 of them). I started withholding my street address from applications in order to prevent further unwanted mail (among other reasons). It boggles my mind why an organization would feel the need to spend time and resources on sending paper rejections, let alone to people who didn’t even make it to the phone screen stage.

        For the record, I ALWAYS contact applicants with whom I’ve had a phone screen or more when we know we aren’t moving forward with them. The use of a spreadsheet with names of interviewees helps prevent anyone from slipping through the cracks. I also contact people even if I don’t have an update so they don’t have do play the “should I follow up?” mental anguish game.

  7. De Minimis

    It’s nice to do, and it isn’t a huge effort so why not?

    But I will say as someone who was job searching for a long, long time, I never held it against a company when they didn’t respond to my initial application/resume/other contact, and I don’t really remember which ones responded and which ones didn’t.

    What did really get to me was not hearing anything after an interview, but that’s a different topic.

    1. Laurel Gray

      I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation/excuse to why a company should not follow up and give an interviewed candidate closure if they are moving in a different direction.

  8. YandO

    I am job searching and I do not expect a response if I’ve only submitted a resume and had no personal contact. I assume I’ve been rejected if I did not hear back in 4-6 weeks.

    If we had a phone conversation, a response is nice but I will understand if I don’t receive it.

    No response after a skype/in person interview and/or a project I’ve prepared is rude, im (not) ho

  9. Not Today Satan

    As much as I hate not being contacted after an interview (or phone screen, which is unfortunately super common), I don’t really mind not hearing from them if I don’t make it to that stage. In fact, sometimes it can be demoralizing, because I tend to get them like, the same day I apply. On the other hand, I’ve gotten official rejections from jobs I’ve applied to months earlier and have long assumed that that door was shut.

  10. Chriama

    When I worked in an HR office, we needed to keep track of everyone who applied, their contact info, and whether or not they were being called in for an interview. (You have to keep all job applications anyway, might as well create an easy reference list). From that spreadsheet, creating a form letter and sending it through mail merge took less than 2 minutes (well, after I created that first form letter and saved it). So there isn’t a good reason to not contact rejected applicants.

    1. LizNYC

      I was just thinking that if the emails were easily collated, pop them into an email client like MailChimp or Constant Contact template (I think they have free services), import the list, then hit send. Mass email rejection that’ll look personal.

  11. Lauren

    Send rejections to everyone who applied. After all, they took the time to prepare their application materials and submit them – it would be extremely rude to just ignore that and leave them hanging.

  12. fposte

    I don’t have that number of candidates (more like 50), but I send rejections to everybody.

    In the searches where I personally do that (I’m involved with two kinds of searches, and one goes through a system that I have no control over), I’m often dealing with people that I’ll see in the future, which is why I really want to be courteous with my communication. And I think that treating people as if you’d see them in the future in general is a good way to approach it–you don’t want to treat people in a way that’s okay only if you never see them again.

  13. Julie

    I once went over a year without hearing yes/no from a single company. That was when the economy was really bad and I was a recent graduate who had 2 companies undergo reorgs and I was last in/first out. I really just wanted a rejection so I would know Taleo and all those other systems were actually working (beyond that confirmation email). I finally got a followup and an offer and then 3 months later a rejection from a place I’d long forgotten I’d applied to. That was it. Rejections hurt but nothing is as awful as an entire year of feeling so worthless that I don’t even deserve contact from the applications I spent over an hour on.

    1. Dot Warner

      This. I filled out the application, wrote a cover letter, and checked over my resume for the 50th time. Be respectful of the time I invested by telling me the outcome of my efforts.

  14. AnotherAlison

    I would be surprised to get a rejection just from submitting a resume and no further contact. Doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do, but I don’t know if I would do it. Good thing it’s not part of my job. : )

    One time I went to a really crappy interview that was scheduled for an hour and lasted 2+ hours. It was a small family business, and I was supposed to meet both the husband and wife. The wife wasn’t there, and after an hour with the husband, the wife got back from whatever she was doing and we went through everything we had already discussed AGAIN. And the point of this whole story is that after the crappy interview, I didn’t even get a rejection email or postcard. I knew by the end it wasn’t a fit, but come on. Be decent.

    1. Suzanne

      And I would have mentioned to everyone I knew how disorganized & rude this family owned business was. Passive-aggressive? Maybe, but best way to cope!

  15. Hermoine Granger

    I agree with Alison that it’s the classy / professional thing to do. However, I think it’s perfectly fine to do a mail merge or just send a mass BCC email to candidates that haven’t had any contact with the company. I generally mentally move on from a company as soon as I submit my application so I don’t really take offense if I don’t hear back.

    I personally love and prefer companies with online application systems (which aren’t too long) that allow candidates to check the status of their application. I don’t need an email from those companies but cool beans if it automatically sends out an email when you’re no longer under consideration.

    Companies that don’t update candidates after a phone / in-person interview suck. No excuses. They just suck and I judge them harshly.

    1. Karowen

      This is what I was going to say. If you really can’t take the time to send individual form emails, I’d still rather get BCCed on a mass email than hear nothing.

    2. Hermoine Granger

      One caveat: I applied to a company that never contacted me one way or another about my application, which was fine. However, they added me to their mailing without my permission and sent me a promotional email. I didn’t like that at all.

      1. Not Today Satan

        That happened to me too. The cover story for the first newsletter I got enthusiastically announced their new hire for the position I applied for. I was not amused.

        1. De Minimis

          Ooh that really sucks…

          The one I still get mad about was when I followed up about a month after the interview and was told they were still in the recruiting process. I check their website a few months later [having long since written them off] and found out that they had several new employees who had started around the same time I’d followed up.

          But from what I see on GlassDoor, the company is a trainwreck so I guess it was a bullet dodged.

      2. Anonsie

        Oh lord, was it Progressive? I applied for a PT job there when I was in college and they wallpapered my email with marketing until I unsubscribed two or three times. I did not like that either.

        I think they may have even sent junk mail-mail to me, but it’s hard to know the source of insurance-related junk mail.

        1. Hermoine Granger

          No, I can’t remember who it was exactly but it was like a small local tech type startup. I think the email was a promotion for some new product they were launching / selling.

    3. TCO

      Agreed. If I didn’t interview or anything like that, an anonymous, generic rejection is just fine.

    4. Steve G

      Just make sure the wording in the mail merge leaves people w/ a positive taste in their mouth and that it makes sense. Here are two I recently got:

      “We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to review your resume. However, after careful consideration of your background, we regret to inform you that you resume does not meet our current needs.”

      vs.

      “We have reviewed your resume and have carefully considered your qualifications. While your skills are certainly impressive, we have identified candidates who more closely match our requirements.”

      The 2nd one is much better to me. Neither sounds bad per se, but I remember being miffed when I got the 1st one, because I met 100% of the requirements for that job! So how the heck can you tell me resume doesn’t meet your current needs?????? Instead of saying “oh guess I didn’t get it,” I mulled over what they (not me) had done wrong. Had they delegated screening these to someone too inexperienced to really understand the resumes they were getting? Do they not understand accounting terminology? Were they just looking for keywords that I didn’t supply? I couldn’t help shake the feeling that they had somehow mismanaged my application…………

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I agree with you that that’s bad wording, but if it gives you any peace of mind, “does not meet our current needs” is often just sloppy shorthand for “not among the candidates who most closely match what we’re looking for.”

        I’d recommend never reading anything into the wording of rejections, unless it’s a clearly personal note. Otherwise they’re nearly always just a form email sent to everyone who isn’t moving forward in their process.

        1. Steve G

          I will try not to read anything into them but it is very hard! Especially when you’re trying to be a good applicant and not waste hiring managers’ time by only applying to jobs that you qualify for and have a lot to do with your experience, and you still get the message: “don’t meet our needs.”

      2. PoorDecisions101

        I personally don’t like “impressive” in the form rejection, unless they mean it, since it leaves me wondering.

        I’ve received two lately, one which looked like a form one, and another which specifically referenced my experience and qualifications. (And yes I was probably reading way more into them than I should have.)

        Off topic, but since Friday will be too late as the interview is Friday – thoughts on a Claire Underwood-esque dress (read form fitting) for an interview in mining/engineering – mainly because the weather is a bit warm to suit up, and I really like the dress.

        1. BananaPants

          Hmmm, I’m an engineer and would not go for anything form-fitting for an interview – or really anything other than a suit (with pants, not a skirt – that’s my personal preference, though).

          1. PoorDecisions101

            Thanks BananaPants. You’re right.

            Since I’ve worked almost exclusively mining I’ve always worn pants to interviews so as not to come off too fussy. No reason I should do any different this time round. It’s also for a managerial role, which would probably make it worse as far as relatability.

            The looking good in the dress just threw out my common sense for a bit. :)

        2. Steve G

          I never questioned the word impressive like that:-). I feel like I have good experience, so I always thought “gee thanks for acknowledging that my experience is impressive.” Never even thought of it as a form letter. Gee I’m a narcissist!

  16. AVP

    ahhh this was my question from so long ago! Update, Alison schooled me properly and I’ve sent proper rejections ever since. There’s no way to automate it using the website that my industry uses for job posting, which is why I think most of my industry doesn’t send them, but it really doesn’t take more than half an hour to copy/paste the same email form to everyone.

    I’ve also gotten some really sweet responses from people who are surprised to be rejected, thanking me for cutting them loose.

    1. Helka

      I’m glad you’ve taken the advice to heart! Thank you for making the grind of job hunting just a little less cold and impersonal :)

    2. Stephanie

      Glad to hear you didn’t have anyone trying to convinced made a mistake in rejecting her!

    3. Zahra

      If you can export the data to Excel or a csv file, you could do a mail merge and take even less time and save yourself from carpal tunnel syndrome (really, repeated CTRL+C and CTRL+V must be bad for your hands in the long run)!

  17. Nanc

    We’re a small agency but we always get a ridiculous number of applications and since we have no HR person, we came up with an email to acknowledge that we received their materials and if they don’t make it to the next round, they won’t hear anything further. It lets them know we got their stuff and prevents phone calls and emails wondering if we’ve filled the position. Feel free to steal/adapt:
    Dear [excellent applicant],

    Thank you for submitting your application materials [best place to work ever! company name’s] [super-exciting job title] position.

    While we appreciate the time and effort you put into completing your application, due to the volume of submitted applications we will only contact applicants who move into phase two of the application process.

    If you are not contacted for phase two of the application process we will keep your materials on file for one year to review against positions that become available during that time.

    Again, thank you for your interest in [best place to work ever! company name’s] and best of luck in your job search.

    1. Holly Day

      At a small non-profit, I’ve done something similar — acknowledge that we’ve received their application, and will be in touch if they’re selected for a phone interview. I totally hear those who want the definitive rejection and get closure on the position, and I’m pretty convinced to add an email notifying candidates that they haven’t been selected for an interview. As a job seeker, when would you most want to receive that email? As soon as I know I’m not going to interview you (which could be as soon as 24 hours after you submitted an application)? Once the interview process is over and my preferred candidate has accepted the position (maybe 2-4 months later)? Something else in between?

      1. Stephanie

        Personally, I’m fine with 24 hours. It’s just when it’s 15 minutes after you applied it’s like “Damn. Was I really that far off-base?”

        1. Not Today Satan

          For some reason that *always* get the ten-minutes-later-rejections with the jobs I’m most perfectly qualified for, too (as in, I have the experience they require in the same niche job). It’s bizarre and annoying.

    2. Observer

      That’s definitely better than nothing. At least a person knows it’s not them if they just don’t hear back.

    3. Meg Murry

      But please only say that if you really actually do review past applicants for new openings! When I was young and naive and didn’t understand how many applicants a company could get, I would sometimes see a new opening that was similar (but not the same) and think “oh, they said they would review past applicants, I don’t need to apply again” but I suspect I would have been better off re-submitting my application materials, just in case, because who knows if that was considered similar enough.

      Also, create a separate email address to send those messages from (like “hiring @ bestcompanyever.com) if you don’t already have one, unless you want all those high volume people to contact you personally or email you every time they get a virus or their hotmail account gets hacked.

      1. Nanc

        Yes, we review past applicants and have hired from them! Doesn’t happen that often but it does!

  18. Mags

    Always, always send that rejection notice. A mail merge, or form letter if mass-emailing’s not an option like for the OP, is fine. Applicants don’t need their hand held or their head patted, but in a world where weeks or even months of silence could mean you’re still in the running or they hired someone weeks ago, having that closure is important both emotionally and practically.

    It’s wise for companies to do because yes, applicants are potential or existing clients or donors or whatnot, but it’s important first and foremost because applicants are people, and it’s a small kindness to them. After once having endured a long, hard job search with much sending of resumes into the abyss, I have resolved that I will never, ever let applicants go without at least a one-line notice of their status.

    1. AndersonDarling

      I consider the hiring process a facet of public relations. You have people begging for your attention and it is the perfect opportunity to build a relationship with potential customers.
      Consider all the applicants who apply for jobs in a year. If every one of them could walk away with a good feeling about their application process, they could all be customers in a year.
      Corporate Communications can spend months designing a newsletter, but no one cares about the image HR is presenting.

  19. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    Yes, please send something! I’ve had jobs reply to me many, many months after I’ve submitted an application (doesn’t frequently happen with places with online submissions now, fortunately), so when I don’t hear a “no thanks” I assume there is still the possibility I’ll get a surprise call out of the blue. I really appreciate knowing if that’s never going to happen.

  20. Fuzzyfuzz

    Absolutely. There is little worse in the job hunting world that submitting a resume to what feels like a black hole and never having any confirmation that your materials were even received (much less reviewed). An answer, no matter what it is, makes it easier to keep chugging along.

  21. AndersonDarling

    When I was at OldCompany, a good friend of mine applied for a mid level position and never heard a thing about the job. I was able to see that the position was filled, so I was the one who told her she wasn’t chosen. My company was a giant organization that had spiffy recruitment software that could easily send rejection notices, yet I was the one who had to inform the candidate. My friend didn’t want to apply to another position at the company, and I started doubting how things were being run in HR.

    Send the rejections, please.

  22. Not an IT Guy

    Personally I find silence to be enough. I’d just rather not be told flat out that I’m not good enough for the job.

  23. Employment Lawyer

    If you don’t want to be a jerk, of COURSE you have to tell them! I just did hiring. Here’s my email. Feel free to use it.

    Dear ____:

    Thank you for applying. Unfortunately, I am not able to offer you a position. I greatly appreciate your interest, and wish you the best of luck in your job search.

    Yours,

    Me.

  24. Ann O'Nemity

    Thankfully my company uses an applicant tracking system that makes it very easy to send rejections. Even if you don’t use such a system, I would encourage creating a process that includes a rejection communication to all applicants.

  25. Cass

    I’m PT at a University now, and actively looking for a FT position. Funny enough, the job system here sends you an automated email if you are rejected without being interviewed, but once you’ve had one its up to the hiring manager. This makes sense, but now 2 jobs I’ve interviewed for have just never let me know. Frustrating, especially as an internal candidate!

  26. Lunchy

    Yes, please send rejections. Once, I got two in one day, and it was a huge relief. Even though we’re supposed to move on and forget about the job we just applied for, it can be difficult to do. It’s just better to get the, “Sorry, no, it’s over,” response so I don’t have to think about it anymore.

  27. Colette

    I’m clearly in the minority here, but if I have applied for a job and didn’t hear from the company, I would prefer not to get a rejection email. Assuming that the rejections were sent after they’ve at least done the first round of interviews, I’ve had time to move on and forget the details of the job. I don’t need to k ow they don’t want to hire me – I’ve figured it out already.

  28. Observer

    This is obviously not for the OP, who is now doing the right thing

    I simply don’t understand why anyone would think that “I don’t like mass mailings / form letters” is a good reason for not getting back to people. Sure, lots of people don’t like them, but they are infinitely better than NO answer. In my opinion it’s about as logical as the person who won’t give a hungry person a piece of bread, because they can’t prepare a gourmet meal.

    It’s just NOT true that “if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing WELL.” All you need, in this case, is to not be stupid and offensive.

    1. Allison

      You know who sends out a lot of form letters to rejected applicants? Colleges. And sure, sometimes parents are all “I can’t believe they’d be so cold as to reject my special baby with a FORM LETTER!” But really, most people don’t have an issue with the lack of personalization, they just want to know so they can get on with their lives.

  29. steve g

    YES!

    As a job hunter, I am tracking all of my applications. Let me know I’m not making it so I can at least keep accurate stats on my job hunt. Also, at large companies, as a biz analyst, I usually qualify for two or three jobs. Let me know I’m not in the running for the one I applied for so I can apply to the others.

    Also, two nyc Internet tech companies that talk about their custom algorithms and demand advanced excel and access with vba + another programming language or two sent auto emails to my apps “if you don’t hear from us in two weeks, please consider your app unsuccessful? Useful info, but seriously? So I’m supposed to believe that you’re at the forefront of technology and computer skills when no one on staff can even set up a mass email or, a little bit harder, a custom email? Come on….

    Lastly, you need to keep in mind that a lot of your applicants are seasoned accomplished professionals. Just because they aren’t getting your job doesn’t mean that they haven’t done and aren’t worthy of great things. They deserve a response.

    Also just remember reading on glassdoor that a few freshdirect customers said they were cancelling using freshdirect after horrid application/pre-interview experiences….dont let the same happen to you!

  30. Alis

    I’ve received two post letters rejecting me from the basic application stage and I still remember them several years later. It really impressed me professionally. I don’t think it is a “must”, but it is q good way to conduct business. You never know who your rejected candidate knows, it might be your ideal candidate.

    1. Hermoine Granger

      I applied in person for a part-time position at Gucci when I was in high school. (I was naive, unqualified, and a poor fit for the position.) A few weeks later I received a really nice black postcard with the Gucci logo printed in a pattern on one side rejecting my application. I loved getting mail and was so impressed with the postcard that I kept it until I lost track of it when I left for college.

  31. Stranger than fiction

    Steve G – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered this same exact thing “but why,I’ve got every requirement in their posting + more!”.

    I’ve chalked it up to a) those silly software programs that search resumes for keywords (and perhaps don’t do a very good job, or you abbreviated something or…) or b) sometimes there’s some secret formula/combination the hiring manager is looking for. Like maybe they only want people who were at their last job for 5+ years or they’d really like more women on their team (but they can’t say that, of course) Or they really stopped accepting application after X number received or X date…

  32. Purr purr purr

    I think sending rejection emails should be standard practise. When I was out of work after being made redundant, I would spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours updating my resume and cover letter to match what they wanted and highlight my relevant skills. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that I get a quick copy-and-pasted email in return saying that I’ve been unsuccessful! I understand that it would take a while to do that for everyone but it’s negligible when you consider the cumulative time all the applicants have spent on their applications.

  33. MissDisplaced

    It’s nice to know a position is filled, but I don’t really expect to hear anything unless I’ve had some type of interview.
    And if you do interview (even phone interview) please then send a response.

  34. Jennifer

    Well, recently I applied to two jobs in the same department. Interviewed for one and was never called for the other. I got a paper snail mail rejection for the one I got no interview for and never heard a dang thing from the interview.

    I don’t even know with that department. It’s probably all for the best I wasn’t good enough for them anyway though.

  35. Onymouse

    I’m used to never hearing back after just making an application, but I’ve recently had the good fortune of being in the position to decline a couple of interview invites after accepting an offer. One was very kind and said they hoped we could stay in touch; the other, well, never replied. One of these companies left me with a much better impression than the other.

  36. DariAri

    Please do! It will mean so much to every single person who applied. No matter what everyone says, the thought of “oh, maybe they’ll get back to me, maybe they haven’t filled the position yet, maybe their boss is on vacation and they will write” will still linger in the back of your head. It’s important for every single applicant to move on from every position regardless of which stage the application was on. Even if the application has just been submitted, I personally really like to get a short “We’ve received your resume, and if we decide to move forward with you, you’ll hear from us”. At least that. It’s a good way out. But, as a fellow job-seeker, it’s not cool not to follow up after some personal contact has been made.

    On a personal side, I was interviewing for a great 6-figure position with paid relocation with a giant tech firm in Silicon Valley, where I went through multiple Resume reviews, phone screenings (recruiting managers and possible future supervisors etc etc) which lasted a good couple of months. It was the type of company that you would put everything on hold for (which I, naturally, did). Eventually they flew me out there for a 6.5 hour interview with 10 people which – my feeling – went very well. At the end of the interview I was asked about all of my details on relocation (cars, pets, timeline), any concerns that I had working for them etc etc. Well, guess what – NEVER HEARD FROM THEM AFTER THAT. Not a single phone call. Not a single short e-mail. Not a single GENERIC e-mail with the usual “we decided to hire someone else”. NOT A WORD. Please, employers, don’t do that. It’s tacky. It’s unprofessional. It’s disappointing. As a job-seeker, you make plans, you change plans, you get ready, you put other offers on hold, you wait with your life plans and whatnot. I hope that (especially) the big and almighty Fortune 500 companies would realize the importance of replying to people who they string along for months in hopes and promises of a great position, only to never hear from them again. But I digress. I wrote the recruiter a short follow-up note asking what the status of my application was, and received a rejection reply addressed to a different person about a different interview. Trust me, it sucked. Well, after awkward clarifications and follow-up e-mails I finally got a response I already knew I was going to get. Still, a few words from an employer (even an automated response, even a brief impersonal note) would be graceful and helpful.

  37. Todd

    What happens if this becomes the new norm? While I can understand that applicants want to know whether or not they are still being considered, are they (or we, I’m currently applying to jobs) really sure that that’s what they want?

    Imagine applying for over 100 jobs over a month or so and receiving 100+ rejection emails. Would that make your job search easier or more difficult? At times it can be difficult to continue the job search after a string of rejections following interviews (especially at the pace you were at before the interviews). It could become much harder if rejection emails are sent out even for positions you haven’t interviewed for. As a job seeker, I do not want this to become common practice.

    Of course, if I have been in contact with a person about a position, I would want to know. But if I haven’t been, I don’t really have a problem with hoping that I receive an email from them in the future and not really knowing for sure. If it’s a specific position that I really want, then if I know the start date of the position, and that date has passed, I pretty much know I didn’t get the job. So, in my opinion, just post the start date or decision date on the job posting, that way people who are really interested in a certain position have a certain date at which they can stop hoping to receive an email. Or, provide a contact email for the position.

    Is this less fair than sending a rejection email? Well, if all job seekers were perfectly rational then the fair and right thing to do would be to send them a rejection email to everyone who applied. But people are not perfectly rational, and I don’t see the benefit of unnecessarily increasing the amount of rejection job seekers must confront during the job search.

  38. Monica Shellbeck

    Sending and not sending are both acts of Branding for your company! After spending effort and time it is very important to a job seeker to be validated for their efforts even if they did not get the job- Mass email is much better than no response.

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