This Is the Email Smart People Send When They're Rejected for a Job

You went through the numerous rounds of in-person interviews. You established great rapport (and—dare you say—even a friendly bond) with your potential new boss. You had reached the final stages of the hiring process and you knew it.

All that was left to do was wait for the decision. So, when an email finally appeared in your inbox, you eagerly clicked it open.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. You skimmed the first couple lines until your eyes tripped over that one sentence you dreaded seeing: “Unfortunately, we decided to move ahead with another candidate.”

Your heart sinks into your shoes and you’re caught between either crying or throwing something (or maybe a little bit of both?). And, in the midst of the flurry of emotions, you’re also reminded of this: You need to find a way to politely respond to that brutal rejection email.

Wait… Why Reply at All?

I know, it’s tempting to slink off into a dark corner and pretend the whole thing never happened. Getting the old “thanks, but no thanks” is humbling enough, without having to swallow your pride, paste on a smile, and write something friendly and professional in return.

But, rest assured, it’s important that you indeed do draft a response after being rejected.

Why? Well, for starters, it’s a great way to demonstrate your professionalism, establish the grounds for a continued relationship, and—in some circumstances—even open the door for future opportunities.

Think that sounds impossible? Just read Muse writer Sara McCord’s story about how a rejection transformed into another offer, and you’re sure to be humming a different tune.

Even further, responding to the rejection gives you the opportunity to ask for feedback, which is valuable information you can use to continue improving and making progress in your job search.

Alright, you get it. But, now comes the hard part: actually drafting that cringe-worthy, ego-deflating email.

Now sure how to pull it off? This template can help.

The Template

Hello [Name],

Thanks for letting me know about your decision.

While I’ll admit that I’m disappointed I won’t be able to work as part of the [Company] team, it truly was great to meet you and learn more about the great work that you’re doing.

I’m excited to keep following [Company] as the team [name a current company goal], and I’ll keep an especially close eye on [project/development you discussed in your interview].

Thanks once again for the opportunity, [Name], and I hope our paths cross again in the future. I’m wishing you and [Company] all the best moving forward.

Best wishes,
[Your Name]

Now, the Final Step

Another wise thing you can do after hitting “reply” on that rejection email? If you haven’t already, request to connect with the hiring manager or department leader on LinkedIn—making sure to include a brief and personalized message along with your invitation about how much you enjoyed meeting him or her and mentioning that you’d love to stay in touch.

That message could be short and simple like this:

Hey [Name],

I really enjoyed meeting you during my interview for [role] with [Company]. I thought I’d connect here so we could keep in touch.

Wishing you the best,
[Your Name]

Whether it leads to something down the road or not, you’ll at least know that you handled the bad news well and did your best to keep the lines of communication open.

Nobody wants to receive a rejection email, much less respond to one. However, hitting “reply” on that dreaded message is actually a wise move.

I know—easier said than done. Fortunately, using this template will make it that much simpler to craft a professional and constructive message in return. It might still sting, but at least you can rest assured that you’re polite and respectful until the bitter end.

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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