How to Write a Professional Job Rejection Email

job rejection

While it may be no fun at all to write a job rejection letter email, they do happen. Once you have your preferred candidate, you need to let the others who were in the running know where they stand.

So, how do you do it? Moreover, how do you do it in a way that leaves your employer brand intact? This article offers some templates, based on job role and industry, that should expertly soften the blow of saying no.

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What Is A Job Rejection Letter Email?

A job rejection letter email is a message that lets a potential applicant know they did not get the job. It should be a brief, clear, and concise message that is both informative and sensitive to the applicant and how they are feeling. In that sense, a job rejection letter email is both a science and an art.

Do You Need To Send A Job Rejection Letter Email?

The vast majority of applicants devote time and effort to their application, and potentially even more time should they go through the interview process. The last thing you want them to feel is that they wasted their time, and while they won’t be happy not having gotten the job, you can at least give them a response or update.

In addition, it is a very small world nowadays. If a company treats applicants poorly, word will get around quickly (especially online thanks to platforms like Glassdoor and others). In order to preserve your employer brand, and to make it easier to have employees referred to your company, you should send out rejection letter emails every time.

Download our eBook on employer branding right here.

When Do You Send A Job Rejection Letter Email?

As quickly as possible. Once the ink is dry on a candidate’s letter of acceptance, you should be firing out an email to anyone else that applied to let them know that the process has ended.

That’s because, in the past decade or so, applicant expectations have changed drastically. Anyone sending out an email with their resume and references, or filling out a form on an online career page, expects a quick response.

Should You Include A Reason In A Job Rejection Email?

First and foremost, remember that you are not legally obligated to send rejection letters and you do not have to give reasons for your decision. In view of the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG), lawyers even recommend avoiding giving an explanation of any kind.

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Automatic Receipt Confirmation Template

Need a template to send out to applicants after they have applied? Here is one to start:

Subject Line: Your application for {{position_name}} at {{company_name}}

Email message: Dear {{first_name }},

We appreciate your interest in a position with us and want to say thank you for your application!

As we carefully review each and every application, please understand that we may need some time before we can send you a more detailed response. That said, we will be in touch as soon as possible.



An HR software, like Personio, can send confirmation emails automatically. Here’s how.

How Quickly Should You Send A Rejection Email?

First things first, any initial acknowledgment that an application has been received should be given immediately. At this stage, a candidate should never be rejected.

If this were to happen, the candidate might think that their data was evaluated by an algorithm rather than a person.

Instead, the email should start by saying that their documents are being reviewed. Then, if possible, they should receive an idea of when they can expect to hear from the company again.

This period in question should be between two days and a maximum of two weeks.

Before this time period has elapsed, applicants should receive a job rejection letter (via email) or an invitation to interview. If you are not able to make a decision during this time, you should send an interim response.

Otherwise, the HR manager should expect to start receiving telephone inquiries. Applicants may only be forgiving with their time when it comes to large companies with highly complex structures in place.

Job Rejection Letter Email: The Essential Components

Let’s get down to it! What should be the overall structure of a rejection email? In the following sections, we’ll cover each of the most important aspects, including:

ComponentBest PracticeExample
SenderA named person adds personality.Jane Smith
Subject LineThe key here is clarity.RE: Your Application at {{company_name}}
Email LengthAs long as necessary, as short as possible.3-4 paragraphs, approx. 100 words
StructureQuick, clear, and to the point.Thank them, inform them, wish them the best.
ToneShould reflect your company culture."We loved your enthusiasm and thank you for your time!"

Schedule Your Job Rejection Emails Automatically

Invitation Email Template in HR Software

Schedule rejection emails automatically. See how it’s done within Personio’s ATS.

Rejection Letter Email Template: For Junior Roles/Trainees

Subject Line: We are very sorry…

Email Message:

Dear {{first_name}},

Thank you for choosing {{company_name}} as a starting point for your professional career and for taking the time to have a personal conversation with us.

Given the high number of applications received for the {{role_title}}, the decision was not an easy one. Unfortunately, I have to let you know that we decided to go with another candidate.

Please don’t be disappointed that it didn’t work out this time. This is not meant as any criticism of your character or abilities. We are confident that you will be able to find another position elsewhere just as in line with your future plans.

If you would like more detailed feedback on your application and interview, I will be happy to talk to you about it. Just give me a call.

Best wishes,

{{First name, Last name}} {{Department or Position}}

Rejection Letter Email Template: For Start-Ups & Mid-Level Positions

Subject Line: Your application to join our team

Email Message:

Hi {{first_name}},

Thank you very much for your interest in working with us as a {{job_title}} at {{company_name}}. We really enjoyed reviewing your application, as it gave us a great impression of your personality and skill set.

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a role right now. But, as a company that is always growing, we really hope we can keep your details on file, as future positions may open up quickly.

Should something open come up in the future that fits your profile better, we would love to be able to get back to you. Please let us know if that is okay with you.

We wish you all the best in your job search and will hopefully speak to you soon!


{{first _name}}

Rejection Letter Email Template: For Any Applicant

Subject line: RE: Your application as {{position}} at {{company_name}}

Hi {{first_name}},

We appreciate your interest in {{company_name}} and the time you’ve invested in applying for a role with us.

I’m sorry to say that your candidacy did not make it to the next round; we’ve had a very competitive pool for this position, and our organization has gone with a better fit at this point in time.

Please do not hesitate to keep in touch and reach out if we have another role you think could be a fit for in the future.

Best regards,

{{first_name}} {{last_name}} {{company_name}}

Rejection Letter Email Best Practice: Appreciation Pays!

The one thing you should keep in mind when putting pen to paper, or fingers to keys, on a rejection email is this: Treating the applicant with respect is in the absolute best interest of them (your organization included).

That’s because applying to a job, no matter the role, requires time and effort. And, when an applicant puts in that time only to be rejected, it can be very demoralizing. You want to make it clear that you appreciate them for their time.

So, carefully word your email to be appreciative, yet clear, and don’t simply come off as though you didn’t try at all. After all, your rejection emails can be automated (with Personio), but the template can also be a bit personable, too.

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