How to Write a Rejection Letter (With Steps and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As a business leader, your job responsibilities may include hiring for an open position. You might review many resumes and interview several candidates to find the most qualified professional to join your team. Sending rejection letters to candidates who you're no longer considering is an important part of the hiring process. In this article, we describe the steps for writing a rejection letter, provide tips on what to consider when writing yours and highlight examples to help you craft your own.

Related: How to Politely Reject a Job Offer (With Email Examples)

How to write a rejection letter

Here are some steps you can follow to write a polite rejection letter:

1. Craft an explanatory subject line

When sending your rejection letter by email, write a simple subject line that stands out in the candidate's inbox. It can include your company's name and the position title so they know the purpose of the email. This may make it easier for them to see your email on time. For instance, you can write something like SalesRocker - Customer Service Consultant Position.

Related: Email Etiquette: The Professional Business Email Format

2. Write the salutation

This is the first part of the letter and it's a key element of any letter. Remember to include the candidate's name and, if relevant, their title, too. You can write something similar to Dear Mr John.

3. Thank the candidate for applying

Below your salutation, create a new paragraph that starts by thanking them for their time. Depending on where they're in the hiring process, you could thank them for taking the time to apply or for interviewing with you. It's helpful to be specific to show the letter is unique and sincere. A warm tone can create a positive psychological reaction to the rejection letter. Here are a few example sentences:

  • Thank you for taking the time to apply for our customer service consultant role.

  • Thank you for taking the time to interview with our team for the digital marketing representative role.

  • Thank you for your interest in the graduate trainee position at our firm.

4. Tell them you're no more considering them for the role

This next sentence is the most essential part of the letter. Inform them that you're moving forward in the hiring process without them. This is the purpose of the letter, so it's usually best to add this information towards the beginning of the email so the candidate can quickly get an answer. Having a positive tone and being courteous when writing this section of the letter may make it easier for the candidate to handle the news. For example, you can write We have carefully reviewed your application for this position, and unfortunately, we have decided not to move forward.

5. Explain why you aren't considering them

This letter can also include telling them why you went with another candidate. It may help the candidate discover areas they can improve on for future applications either to your company or to another. The level of education, experience or skills are examples of popular reasons you can give. You can write something like Presently, we're looking for a candidate who has more experience in computer programming.

6. Give some positive aspects about their application or interview

You can give them some feedback about what impressed you in their application. These can be one or two qualities that you liked about them. It can help to leave a good impression on the candidate. Illustrating these pleasant aspects can also help them better understand the strengths that they can highlight more in future applications. For instance, you can write Your excellent writing skills highly impressed us.

7. State that you may refer to their application for other future roles

Showing that you may consider them for other opportunities is important, especially when you feel they could be qualified to work in other roles. It may be a good way to maintain a connection with them and also keep the tone of the letter positive. You can do this by telling the candidate you would like to keep their resume on file for future job openings.

8. Tell them to apply for more roles

You may be able to sustain the connection by encouraging the candidate to apply for more positions that they're interested in. This is another way to reassure the candidate that you want them to be a part of your business. An example of how you can achieve this is by writing something like, Please don't hesitate to apply for any other job openings in our company that suit your career path.

9. Conclude with a positive statement

Try closing your letter with a positive statement. In one or two short sentences, thank the candidate again for their time, and wish them luck in their efforts. This can be Thank you again for your time, we wish you the best in your job search.

Related: Email Etiquette: How to End an Email (With Examples)

What is a rejection letter?

A rejection letter is a polite and professional way of telling a candidate about the employer's decision of not moving forward with their application to the next stage. While candidates spend time, energy, effort and money applying for job positions or business opportunities, it's important to give them a response. A rejection letter may help set their minds at ease, offer closure and help them continue with their job search.

Related: How to Give Feedback on an Interview (With Examples)

Tips for writing rejection letters

Here are some tips you can consider when writing your rejection letter:

Be prompt

As soon as you have decided on the candidate you want to hire, it's advisable to reach out to the candidates that didn't make it. Sending the rejection letter as soon as possible may help to put the candidates' minds at ease. It can also help them quickly move forward with other opportunities.

Be clear

Write clearly to allow the candidate to know what the letter is about early on. You can do this by using simple terms that the candidate can easily understand. Also, ensure that they can understand the letter exactly how you intended it to be perceived by reading it after writing or giving a third party to study it.

Be concise

It's important to write only relevant information in your rejection letter. When proofreading the letter, look out for long sentences or phrases you can summarise. This may save you time because you're writing fewer words. Also, the candidate gets to read less.

Rejection letter example

Here's an example of a rejection letter that can serve as a guide for you when you craft yours:

Example 1

Here's a sample rejection letter for a digital media manager position:

Subject: Protelsorn Media - Digital Media Manager Position

Dear Tim Chan,

Thank you for applying for our digital media manager position. We appreciate the time you took to apply on our website and meet with our team for the interview.

We have moved forward with other qualified candidates. Specifically, we're looking for a candidate with more digital marketing experience. However, your creative skills, knowledge of our technical products and comportment during the interview was impressive. We also appreciated that you took your time to carry out extensive research on the company, which your cover letter reflected.

We would like to consider you for future opportunities in our media department if you're available. We also encourage you to apply for any other open positions that may be suitable for you.

Thank you again for your time. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.

Amelia Lau
Hiring Manager
Protelsorn Media

Example 2

Here's a sample rejection letter for a freelance web developer position:

Subject: Techlorns Geeks - Freelance Web Developer Position

Dear Kit Leung,

Thank you for your interest in the freelance web developer position at Techlorns geeks. We are grateful for the time you took to apply for this role.

Unfortunately, we will not be moving forward with your application. This role requires extensive industry work experience. Still, your skill set and outstanding educational background are impressive.

We would like to file your resume for when we have other future opportunities in technology that may require your qualifications. Please apply for any other open job positions that may interest you at our agency.

Thank you again for your time and best of luck in your career.

Tanya Chan
Senior Manager
Techlorns Geeks

Explore more articles