How to Respond to a Job Rejection Email

No one ever wants to receive the dreaded "Thanks, but no thanks" email from a prospective employer, especially if it's a highly coveted job or is the result of an experience that included several rounds of phone calls and interviews.

Chances are most of us are faced with responding to job rejection emails at some point during the job search. As a job seeker, the statistics aren't necessarily on a candidate's side with just 28 percent of applicants being hired after the interview.

Even though a rejection email is disheartening, it's a good opportunity to keep a line of communication open. Here are some tips to help keep your response positive.

Time your response

If you need to, give yourself a little time to digest and come to terms with your emotions, especially if not landing this job is a huge disappointment. It's important you're able to respond clearly and professionally rather than in the heat of the moment. The last thing you want is to let any negative emotions muddle your response—just don't wait too long to reply.

Thank the employer for their time

The first statement to make is to thank the employer for their time and consideration of you as a candidate. In industry circles, you never know who you'll encounter down the road, so don't ever burn your bridges. Think carefully about the other types of statements you want to make.

  • Thank them for taking the time to follow up with you to let you know they made a decision.
  • Briefly mention any positive experiences you had during any phone calls or interviews—be specific.
  • Balance an appreciation for the opportunity with your disappointment but be careful not to be negative.

Strive to keep a positive dialogue because if their chosen candidate doesn't work out, you might be next in line.

Let the employer know your interest

It's acceptable to politely reiterate your interest in the company and note your disappointment in not being selected. How you respond won't make an employer change their decision, but it can help you to leave a favorable impression, especially if you're gracious, tactful, and courteous in your word choices when making these statements. You may even be placed in their hiring pipeline.

How you handle your rejection also matters because if another job opportunity opens in their organization and you've previously nailed your response, you could be positioned as their preferred candidate in the next round.

Tip: Connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn. If they accept your invitation, great! And, if not, you'll have nothing to lose by trying.

Sample response letter to a job rejection email

Hi [Name of person, follow how they signed their email],

It was a pleasure to meet with you and [name other team members if applicable] about the opportunity to join the [company name] team. Thank you for taking the time to follow up with me to let me know your hiring decision for [name of position].

While I'm sorry to learn I wasn't the right candidate for this position, I appreciate the opportunity I was given to interview with [company name]. I enjoyed discussing [mention something discussed during the interview process about the company's goals or mission]. If any other future positions open where I might be a better fit, I'd love the opportunity to be considered.

Thank you again for inviting me to meet with you. I wish you and your team all the best.

Best regards,

Even if it's tempting to ignore a rejection email, write one anyway. Responding to rejection isn't the most fun task, but it's an opportunity you shouldn't dismiss. Look at it a way to turn a negative into a positive. You never know where this piece of correspondence will ultimately lead you.

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