I am writing this as a college graduate who had to deal with joblessness for some time in this economy. Today, hiring representatives are regularly receiving tens to hundreds of replies for a single opening, whether it be entry-level or require years of experience. People are out of work or they are looking for new opportunities. They are scouring the internet in pursuit of that next step in their career. As a result, great business leaders and hiring representatives must know how to reject an applicant, especially online when there is often a disconnect between applicant and employer.
Ideally applicants are tailoring their cover letter, résumé, and perhaps reflecting over samples of their work for each opening. These candidates put in a lot of effort, and may have a very strong and genuine interest in your company. In response to their efforts, employers should know how to reject applicants in an appropriate way. The chances are that the candidate deserves it.
Alison Green elaborates on how to reject an applicant in a post over at The Fast Track. Outside of any moral gain an employer receives in taking the time to acknowledge an applicant, Green makes an important point that the manner in which an applicant is rejected will ultimately influence the perception of your business. If someone applies to your company and they believe they are very qualified for the position yet they go unnoticed or were brushed off inappropriately, chances are they’ll tell a friend or two. Impressions will be made and words will be spread.
Ultimately, the worst thing a business can do is ignore an applicant completely after they have put in the time to respond to a job post. However, there are a couple solutions to enhance your organization’s image in the staffing process.
The first is to generate an automatic response the moment you receive a cover letter and résumé. This can be accomplished with HR software, email auto-reply settings, or a template you can copy and paste manually. In the response you can thank the applicant for their time in applying and even mention that if the company decides to move forward with them in the application process they will hear back within X time frame.
This accomplishes a number of things but primarily it gives the applicant an acknowledgement. They deserve this. Countless companies just ignore responses and this offends job-seekers, especially if they took the time to really work on their résumé and cover letter for a very specific position. Second, it gives the applicant a time frame and they’ll know when they’ve been rejected. To boot, this also helps prevent applicants from unnecessarily calling in and sending emails asking about their application, cluttering your inboxes and voice mail.
Another option to consider involves informing the applicant of his or her rejection after you have looked over their résumé. Ideal information to include would be their name, the name of the position they applied for, and a brief paragraph thanking them for their time, turning them down, and wishing them luck in their job search.
Ideally a company will utilize a combination of both of these options, depending on the size of the company and the opening.
In my job search prior to starting at Xenium I was rejected a number of times online. In one particular instance, I was a rather unqualified for the position but I gave it a shot and sent off my cover letter and résumé anyway. The automated rejection response I received (only seven days later) was by far the best rejection I had ever received. Below is the template the hiring representative used:
We received a very large, highly qualified applicant pool for [the position]. While your background and accomplishments are impressive, we feel that they do not match our needs at this time.
We wish you the best in your future endeavors.
[Hiring representative’s name]
[Hiring representative's contact information]”
While I fully understand this was an email sent out from a template or other automated response, this rejection still felt comfortable and personal as an applicant. It featured my name. It referenced the position I applied for. It complimented my experience. It wished me luck. It was professional. Heck, they were even kind enough to not even outright say I was unqualified but that my experience just didn’t “match” their “needs.” These are all great things to consider using for your own rejection template.
With reference again to Alison Green’s article, she states that “if your employer doesn’t prohibit it, offering feedback is a kind thing to do, especially if the reason is easily articulable, such as that you were looking for someone with more experience in a certain area.” This is also a fantastic thought, though much more applicable to rejection after an in-person interview. However at points it could be a possibility for rejection via email, especially if you received very few applicants. It lets the applicants know why they were rejected and they aren’t left wondering “why didn’t I get this job? Why didn’t I even get an interview?”
You want to make a good impression as an employer in your hiring process. Thinking about the information provided above can help you create a positive image for your company with applicants, even without meeting them face-to-face.
Image courtesy of Ben Thompson on Flickr Creative Commons.