How To Reply to a Job Rejection Email

FT Contributor
A man typing a letter in response to a job rejection.
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Whether you lack a specific skill, are under-qualified, or simply aren’t a good fit at a company, you may find that you receive a rejection letter from time to time over the course of your career.

It may seem counterintuitive, but a job rejection email shouldn’t be your last point of contact with a company. Even a rejection letter needs a response. Sending a cordial, professional email in return allows you to maintain a connection with the employer, nurture your professional network, and possibly even leave the door open for future employment.

Rejection Letter Tips

While a rejection letter response is important, it should always be done thoughtfully and professionally. Here are a few essential tips to keep in mind as you compose your reply:

Maintain a Positive Attitude

It’s tempting to use the occasion as a chance to give the employer “your two cents.” However, the response to a rejection letter isn’t the time to air your grievances.

It’s critical that you adopt a positive tone throughout your response. Maintain a respectful, polite approach to your wording and make sure to write with a potential long-term relationship in mind.

“I can’t believe you undervalued what I can bring to the table,” for instance, is going to naturally put distance between you and the hiring manager. “I appreciated the opportunity to meet you and hear about your company,” on the other hand, is going to showcase your professional interest in their company and encourage the relationship.

Thank Them for the Response

Again, at first glance, a rejection letter response may seem like the perfect occasion to point out problems or express your disapproval. However, it’s important that you not only avoid the negatives but actually go out of your way to thank the employer for considering you for the position.

This demonstrates to them that you can handle yourself in a polite and professional manner, even in the face of adversity, and your positivity can leave a lasting impression on a hiring manager.

Ask for Feedback

While it’s permissible to briefly express your disappointment when composing your response, it’s more important to focus on what you can do better next time. Ask the hiring manager for feedback about your performance, qualifications, and skills.

What can be improved? Why weren’t you offered the job? When you ask for constructive criticism, you’re may receive invaluable interviewing insight that will help you in the future.

You can also spend time going back over the job description. By comparing your actual qualifications to those requested, you may be able to narrow down which jobs you should apply for in the future in order to increase your chances of success.

Keep in Touch

Don’t treat your reply as a bridge-burner. In fact, if you write cordially and respectfully, you may be able to maintain the employer in your professional network. Follow their company on social media, engage in conversations when you attend professional events, and generally strive to remain in contact.

Staying in touch with an employer could lead to them hiring you for another position in the future. Some hiring managers may even be impressed enough to refer you to other companies looking for personnel that fit your qualifications.

Remember to Edit

As is always the case when writing professional business letters, it’s important that you take time before sending your email to edit and proofread its contents.

Look for obvious spelling and grammar errors, as well as more elusive mistakes in tone or wording that might send the wrong message. Phrasing like, “I’m severely disappointed that you didn’t find me worthy of the position,” for instance, could be softened to, “I’m disappointed that I wasn’t a good fit for the job.”

It also may be a wise move to have a third party read the email and provide feedback. Having another person proofread your professional communications can be a great way to identify errors and mistakes that may have gone unnoticed.

Rejection Letter Template

While all job rejection emails should be tailored to each specific scenario, if you’re struggling to come up with a good formula for your rejection letter replies, we’ve got you covered.

Below is an email template for a rejection letter response. Simply copy and paste it into a blank email and then fill out your own personal information. Once you’re done, carefully edit it, add the recipient’s address, and then send it.

Dear [first and last name of hiring manager],

Thank you for considering me for the [name of position] position at [name of company]. I sincerely appreciated the opportunity to learn more about your company’s exciting plans for the future.

While I am disappointed that my qualifications and experience were not quite what you’re looking for at this time, I do still have an interest in your company and would like to have a chance to join your team in a capacity that is more fitting to my skills.

If you could please keep me in mind for any other position with [name of company] that you think would better fit my qualifications, I would be very grateful.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.


[First and last name.]
[Contact information.]

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