Have you ever opened your inbox, waiting to see a job offer, only to find a job rejection email staring back at you?
It’s a tough pill to swallow.
Deleting the email and forgetting the whole unpleasant experience seems like the natural thing to do, but resist this negative impulse. You can still use this hitch to further your professional career, although in a different manner than you initially thought.
For most job seekers, responding to a job rejection email feels counterintuitive. Yet, it’s one of the best actions they can take in such a less-than-ideal situation.
In this blog post, we’ll go over why typing a job rejection email response is a good idea and the difference a few lines of text can make.
You’ll also hear from several experts who’ll share their insights on the topic.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
Should you respond to a job rejection email?
In smaller companies, upper management often handles recruiting and interviewing. Such is the case for Shawn Plummer, the CEO of The Annuity Expert. Here’s his experience with rejected applicants:
“Most of the time, when I send out rejection emails, I get no response, and I never hear from the rejected candidates again. However, this is a missed opportunity for them.”
Several reasons can prompt a hiring manager to pass over a good candidate, including:
- Promoting an internal candidate,
- Changing the scope of the job,
- Reallocating the work,
- Putting the hiring process on hold, and
- Interviewing an applicant who seems like a better cultural fit.
None of the above reflects poorly on you, so don’t shut your laptop in anger just yet. Should it not work out with the company’s first pick, recruiters are more likely to look for a new employee from their list of previously interviewed candidates.
And, how do you get ahead of the curve by lifting a few fingers? You guessed it — by replying to that job rejection email and staying in the foreground.
If you’re still hesitant to type the first words, let’s review how choosing to respond to a rejection email can improve your career in the long run.
The benefits of responding to a rejection email
You’ve been passed over for a different candidate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve reached the end of this career road.
There’s no way of knowing how the situation will unfold in the following period since the final candidate could:
- Decline the offer for a position with another company or
- Perform below the required standard in their first few weeks.
Whatever the cause, in such circumstances, your response to the rejection email sets the stage for future opportunities.
So, what benefits can you reap when you respond to a job rejection email?
Let’s take a closer look.
Benefit #1: Responding to a rejection email leaves a good impression
Sending off an angry message may provide temporary relief, but doing so is ill-advised.
You display maturity and emotional intelligence when you respond with grace and respect. Hiring managers and recruiters appreciate candidates with these qualities.
Benefit #2: Responding to a rejection email restates your interest
Rejected job seekers often say to themselves that “There’s no need to send a follow-up email! I applied for the job — this proves I’m interested in working for the organization!”
But, how are recruiters to know this? If you’ve made it to the final interview rounds, they know your qualities and may think you’ve already lined up a few more job offers.
You can restate your interest in working for the company with a short and polite email. Then, when a new opening appears, your message could ensure you receive an invitation to an interview.
Benefit #3: Responding to a rejection email lets you take a step back and self-reflect
No one enjoys self-analyzing their application and interview performance after a job rejection. However, this is a chance to see where you could improve yourself.
After receiving your message, the recruiter could disclose what impressed them and where you fell short. With this insight, you’ll know whether you should work on your assertiveness or communication skills, for instance.
Take it from Matt Collingwood, Managing Director of VIQU ltd., an IT recruitment agency:
“If you went through multiple stages of the interview process, I would recommend going back over them. Score yourself for each stage. Think about what went well, what didn’t, and where you received positive feedback.
And, don’t forget to be critical. Could you have put more time into your presentation? Should you have done more research into the company? Did you perform at your best during the technical assessment?”
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
Do you suspect you need help upping your interview game? If so, check out this blog post:
- Remote interviewing: Tips for virtual interviews
Benefit #4: Responding to a rejection email enables you to grow your professional network
You haven’t been selected for the job, but that doesn’t mean these new connections won’t help you down the line.
Should the recruiter move on to a different company, who’s to say they won’t remember you for a new position? Or, they might be so impressed by your professional qualities and response email that they forward your contact details to their colleagues.
Of course, this is impossible unless you hit “Send” on a follow-up message.
Moreover, if a specific person interviewed you for several rounds, connecting with them on LinkedIn might be a good idea. This way, you can keep a closer eye on potential job opportunities.
How to respond to a job rejection email?
You’ve realized that replying to a job rejection email could help you advance your career, but how do you craft the perfect message?
With the tips below, you won’t have to waste time wondering the best way to start or end your email.
Tip #1: Decide on a subject line
Recruiters sometimes receive upwards of thousands of emails a day and are unlikely to read each message.
As a result, the first thing you should try is to capture their attention. Before your fingers even touch the keyboard, remember never to:
- Send an email without a subject line and
- Only state the name of the position.
If the recruiter has interviewed candidates for several positions in the last few months, an email with no subject line will get lost in their inbox. Similarly, typing solely “iOS Developer” provides insufficient information to refresh the recruiter’s memory.
The trick is to keep the subject line short and specific.
For example, instead of titling your reply as “Job Application,” add your name and the position you applied for. This subject line stands out in a sea of generic emails and guarantees your follow-up will receive a second look.
Tip #2: Express gratitude
Here’s what Eva Chan, one of Resume Genius’ senior members on the Digital PR and Research team, points out:
“Replying to a rejection email is a polite gesture that acknowledges the time and effort the hiring manager put into the review and interview process.”
Your disappointment shouldn’t taint the entire selection process. Reading the rejection email stung, but what about the previous interactions?
Did the recruiter try to ease your nerves during the interview? Were they always prompt and professional in their written communication? If so, consider saying “thank you” with a few brief lines.
Tip #3: Highlight you welcome new opportunities
You could have been the perfect fit, if you had only had a bit more experience. Or, the recruiter may have been impressed by your qualifications but wanted someone slightly more assertive for the position.
Either way, the door for working at the company hasn’t closed yet.
If you’re still interested in contributing to the business, mention it in your reply. Nothing too lengthy, of course. Stick to 1 to 2 sentences explaining that you look forward to future employment opportunities.
For example, you can state:
“I’m open to joining the team in the future.”
“I hope we’ll get the chance to collaborate at a later date.”
Tip #4: Reiterate the value you could bring to the team
Despite being rejected, take pride in your qualifications.
Use your reply to politely remind the hiring staff how you could benefit the company in the future. But, don’t overdo it.
Dr. Kyle Elliot, the Job Search and Career Expert behind CaffeinatedKyle, warns:
“You want to avoid using your response to the rejection email as an opportunity to try and ‘convince’ the hiring manager to hire you, as their mind has already been made up by the point they’re emailing you.”
Your response should show you are ready to move on with dignity, so never oversell yourself when replying to a rejection email.
Tip #5: Ask for constructive criticism
If the rejection email offers no feedback, don’t hesitate to ask for constructive criticism in your reply.
Collingwood echoes this sentiment:
“Self-analysis won’t give you the full answer of why you got rejected, so ask for the answer. Whether it’s directly or through a recruiter, you should immediately respond by thanking them for their time and asking them for feedback.
Always take the feedback as constructive criticism, and use it to turn your weaknesses into your strengths. And if the feedback feels a bit too basic or generic, don’t be afraid to probe a little deeper.”
Plummer also encourages job seekers to ask for feedback and shares a success story:
“Recently, we offered a role to a candidate we initially rejected last year. The candidate took our feedback on board and obtained the qualifications we told them they were missing, so when they reapplied this year, we gave them the job.”
After implementing feedback from interviewers, you could quickly become a contender for a similar role in mere months. So, welcome any advice that could benefit your career path.
Tip #6: Stay in touch
Rejected applicants may feel like never looking up the company again.
However, Chan has had positive experiences with job seekers who went the extra mile to stay in touch. She highlights a specific instance:
“As one of the hiring staff, I’ve had many positive experiences with rejected applicants who responded with kindness and appreciation for our feedback.
One that stands out is an applicant who took the time to send a thank-you note after receiving their rejection email. They were gracious and professional and asked if they could add me on LinkedIn and keep in touch if there are future opportunities with the company, which I thought was a nice move!
It’s always refreshing to see candidates respond positively, even when they don’t get the position they were hoping for.”
Similarly, Anjela Mangrum, a Certified Personnel Consultant and President of Mangrum Career Solutions, underscores the value of professional connections. She shares how keeping in touch can affect a candidate’s job search:
“As a recruiter, I always try to match previously rejected but qualified applicants with new vacancies. I’ve reached out to multiple applicants in the past who I’ve rejected previously just because they kept in touch with me and were, therefore, easy to remember when opportunities came by.”
Although you didn’t get the job, an update email or LinkedIn invite could help remind recruiters you’re open to new opportunities.
Examples of how to respond to a job rejection email
It’s now time to see how the above tips look in practice.
You can use our examples as the backbone for your reply, customizing them with information that applies to your situation.
🔶 Example #1
Subject: Digital Marketing Specialist role decision, Katie Smith
“Dear [Recruiter’s name],
Thank you for considering me for the position of Digital Marketing Specialist at XYZ Corporation.
I’m grateful for the information you and the team shared during our meetings, and I appreciate the time you invested in the interview process. What impressed me the most was how all teams worked closely together to develop the most effective marketing strategy.
Although I’m saddened to hear I haven’t been selected for this position, I still look forward to working for the company in the future. I’ll recheck the website’s careers page and hopefully find an opening that suits my qualifications.
Again, that you for your time and consideration. I wish you all the best in future ventures.
🔶 Example #2
Subject: Aidan Jones — Data Analyst position
“Hello, [Recruiter’s name],
I appreciate having been considered for the Data Analyst position at XYZ company. Meeting the team has been a pleasure, and I’m in awe of how closely they collaborate with stakeholders to resolve challenging issues.
In addition, their insights showed me how the company operates, which I appreciate as I remain optimistic about the opportunity for future collaboration. Should any similar roles arise, I hope my experience and experience will be a good match.
Thank you for the effort and care you’ve exhibited during this entire process. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Tips on dealing with job rejection
Regardless of the outcome of the interviewing process, you should keep your spirits up and maintain a positive mindset.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, and you might catch yourself wallowing in self-pity more often than you’d like. But, as long as you keep in mind the below tips, you’ll quickly learn to deal with job rejection.
Tip #1: Don’t take it personally
As we’ve mentioned, feeling down after getting rejected for what you may have viewed as your dream job is normal.
What matters is that you don’t let this experience shake up your confidence.
Ultimately, the company decided to go with someone else, but that doesn’t mean you’re not capable and intelligent. After all, job hunting is highly competitive, and with hiring decisions, many factors are outside of your control.
Even after writing a professional reply to the job rejection email, you may not hear back from your would-be employer. Getting ghosted is tough, but Elliot shares his thoughts on such situations:
“Not all companies will respond when you reach out after getting rejected. In this case, remember that it’s not you. It’s them.”
Trust that your resilience will help you get over the disappointment and allow you to redirect your focus.
Tip #2: Keep the negativity at bay
When trying to come up with a response to a job rejection email, you could feel frustrated, disappointed, and even angry.
These reactions are understandable, since being rejected after almost reaching the finish line can be demoralizing.
Collingwood advises against voicing these frustrations in a follow-up email to a job rejection:
“I previously worked with a candidate to whom I provided constructive feedback after my client rejected him. The candidate was heavily invested in the role and did not take the feedback at all well.
He found the email address of the manager who had rejected him and sent a very long ranting email where he said the manager’s interview technique was poor and that he wasn’t a good representative of the business.
This keyboard warrior got an unpleasant surprise 6 months later, when he started a new role and found out his new manager had just started at the company and was the manager he had previously tried to go to war with. It made for a very awkward working relationship.”
For Mangrum, reading a ranting email from a rejected candidate equates to burning bridges. She states:
“From my experience, most professionals ignore rejection emails and are, therefore, easily forgotten. Out of those who respond, some are polite and professional, while others are emotional, having foot-long rants about how they deserved to get hired, forcing me to mentally cross them off for any future opportunities due to their unprofessional outbursts.”
As you work through your emotions, you can fend off negativity by appreciating everything good in your life. For some, that means spending time with friends and family. If you’ve formed close friendships with people you’ve worked with in the past, they can be a great source of support.
Tip #3: Don’t compare yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is an act of self-sabotage.
Receiving the news you’ve been rejected stings badly enough, so there’s no need to punish yourself further with unfavorable comparisons.
Remember that, although the job market is competitive, the only person you should outperform is yourself.
So, no looking back over your shoulder to see how others are faring.
No matter how many times you reply to a rejection email, remind yourself that you’re inching closer and closer to a position where you’ll excel.
Conclusion: Rejection is a temporary setback, and your courage to keep pushing makes all the difference
All things considered, it’s best to swallow your pride and reply to a rejection email. You have nothing to lose.
On the contrary, you could, in fact, gain valuable connections if you keep the response:
- Short, and
Don’t underestimate the power of kind words! If you’ve shown yourself in a good light during the interview rounds, new opportunities could come your way sooner than you think.
✉️ What about you? Do you have any positive experiences with job rejection email responses? What are your key takeaways?
Send us your tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may include your answers in this or one of our future posts. In the meantime, share this post with someone who’d find it helpful.
- Thank the hiring manager for letting you know their decision.
- Express your gratitude for their time and consideration. You can directly mention contact you've had with them, like a phone or in-person interview .
- Tell them you appreciate the opportunity to learn about the company.
- Say thank you. It takes a lot of work to plan interviews. ...
- Show your interest in the company. Remind them why you're interested in the company and that you'd like to be considered for future roles. ...
- Ask for feedback. ...
- Leave contact information.
- Thank your interviewer. Begin your response by thanking your interviewer. ...
- Express your disappointment. Next, let the hiring manager know it disappointed you not to be selected for the position. ...
- Show continued interest. ...
- Ask for feedback.
Hi [name], Thank you for following up and informing me of your decision. Although I'm disappointed to learn I wasn't selected for the [position title] opening, I truly enjoyed meeting you and the other members of the [company name] team.Should I reply to a rejection email? ›
So the gracious thing to do is to send a thank-you note in response to your rejection letter. Send an email or note to the person you dealt with at the company, thanking her for letting you know the results of the hiring process, even though they did not choose you.What is a good rejection response? ›
“I totally get it. Thanks for a great time!” The ideal rejection response is courteous and cool. Saying that you “totally get it,” implies that you're not too upset and that maybe you weren't feeling a connection either.What should I say after rejection? ›
- "Thanks for your honesty, it was fun hanging out. ...
- "Hey, thanks again for showing me that new restaurant, such a great pick. ...
- "It was fun hanging out and I wish you all the best." ...
- "Thanks for letting me know. ...
- "Sorry things didn't work out, but I had fun getting drinks."
Dear [recipient's name], Thank you for your response to my application for [the position you applied for]. I understand you have decided to pass on my application because [the reason they gave for passing on your application]. I would like to urge you to reconsider because of [your refutation of their reason].What is a high value response to rejection? ›
A high value mindset says – “He rejected me. He has no idea how great I really am.” A high value mindset makes moving on from rejection so much easier. And it's not about being delusional and giving ourselves positive fluff to feel better.How do you console yourself after rejection? ›
- Allow yourself to feel. Rather than suppressing all the emotions that come with rejection, allow yourself to feel and process them. ...
- Spend time with people who accept you. Surround yourself with people who love you and accept you. ...
- Practice self love and self care.
A follow-up email has the potential to develop a positive relationship with another professional. This is because most people just move on after a rejection. If you respond, you're already going to stand out. By politely responding and thanking them for their time, you may benefit in the future.Is it considered rude to not respond to a email? ›
Ignoring email is an act of incivility. “I'm too busy to answer your email” really means “Your email is not a priority for me right now.” That's a popular justification for neglecting your inbox: It's full of other people's priorities.