The ‘Dear John’ letter to candidates: Follow this protocol
Here’s what goes into a rejection letter that maintains a positive tone.
You’ve finally decided which candidate to hire. Now what about all the others you interviewed? If you’re smart, you’ll contact them promptly so they don’t feel forgotten—and start complaining about your treatment of candidates on the Internet and within your industry. Here’s what goes into a rejection letter that maintains a positive tone:
• Personalize your message. Don’t send a “Dear Applicant” note. Take a little time to address the candidate by name and say something that shows you really remember him or her. A form letter suggests you don’t care about the feelings of the people you interview—or hire.
• Get to the point. Tell the candidate up front that he or she is no longer being considered. Be courteous, but let the person know your decision so he or she doesn’t have to read between the lines or guess at your real meaning.
• Offer encouragement (and maybe advice). Wish the candidate luck with his or her job search. If appropriate, you might explain why he or she was rejected, but be cautious. An offhand comment could come back to haunt you in the form of a lawsuit. If you think the candidate might be suitable for another position in your organization, say so—but be sure you mean it.
• Thank the candidate. A positive send-off can lead a skilled candidate to apply again in the future, so say, “Thank you,” and express appreciation for the candidate’s interest in a career with your organization. Remember, this doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship, so don’t burn any bridges.