We’ve all heard the phrase “I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” right? Well the truth is, no one actually wants to be that bearer. When the time comes to let applicants know they weren’t selected, how you and your team handle the delivery can still have an impact on the future. Believe it or not, the rejection is an extremely important part of the recruitment process and should be treated as such.

These days too many organizations ignore the importance of this step by simply cutting off contact and leaving candidates in the dark. While it may seem like a daunting task, if done right a good rejection process can act as a way to end the interaction on a high note for everyone involved.

With the reach that social media provides, candidates who get cut off and ignored have the power to set the reputation of an organization’s HR department ablaze. Tweets, Facebook posts and even word of mouth can all cause unintended damage. Once other candidates start getting wind of your organization’s hiring process they might even take part in the sharing themselves, causing a ripple effect. On the other hand if your HR team is trained to treat the rejection process as key piece of the recruitment strategy itself and invest in taking the time to maintain a good relationship with candidates, it can benefit the company both short- and long-term. At the end of the day this type of communication directly reflects your brand, and gives a first impression to genuinely interested candidates of how things are handled within your organization.

When it comes to what recruiters should actually include in a rejection, there are different schools of thought floating around. The safe option is definitely the traditional “Thank you for applying, but we have decided to pursue other applicants” or even “Thank you for applying, but we have decided to pursue other, more qualified applicants.” This leaves the candidate with the impression that although they were in fact considered, the competition may have been fierce for this particular position.

We’re all human, and so it can be tempting to sugarcoat this type of news. Just like some people get offended when told their shoe is untied or their tag is sticking out, individuals will inevitably have different levels of sensitivity when it comes to criticism. While it may seem like you’re doing them a favor by providing feedback or trying to help them improve, it’s usually best to be blunt about it and not get too detailed. Informing a candidate of things like missing certifications that are required for the position or perhaps typos on their resume might be appreciated, but avoid getting too personal in your feedback. The chance of it being taken the wrong way and backfiring on your company’s image is simply not worth it.

Sure, the feeling of rejection is never a pleasant one. From broken hearts to declined credit cards, life can be cruel in these types of situations. As a recruiter it’s important to remember that although you might not be delivering the news face to face, there is still a person on the other side of that rejection. Ending on a positive note should absolutely be a priority. Inviting them to apply for other positions or connecting through LinkedIn can be a good way to keep in touch with well qualified candidates. You never know, they could be sitting in front of you interviewing for another position down the road!

Thanks for reading!

Meredith