Why Employers Don't Send Rejection Letters Anymore

There are four main reasons.

job interview attitudeBy Natasha Rhodes
One of the most frustrating things in life is putting time and effort into applying for a job, acing the interview and then never hearing back from the company.

Being rejected is one of the biggest annoyances experienced by job seekers. But it's not just being turned down that infuriates people. It's having an interview and then not being turned down, or so much as contacted by the company ever again.

We interviewed company leaders and hiring managers to find out why companies no longer send rejection letters – and why those who do, still do.

1. Sheer volume. It's a buyer's market out there in today's economy. Record numbers of applicants are applying for fewer jobs, with companies receiving on average 250 résumés for every job opening, according to a recent article by Dr. John Sullivan on the recruitment community website ERE.net.

"The reason we can't always respond to job seekers is simply a matter of volume," says Joel Gross, CEO and founder of Coalition Technologies. "Considering the sheer number of responses we get to a single job listing, it's impossible for us to even open all of the emails, let alone respond to each one personally."

2. Fear of being sued. The decrease in employer response to job applicants may be a natural consequence of the faceless online applicant tracking system, but also the result of a greater fear. "With today's recession bringing more employment lawsuits, your company's applicant rejection letters could be very costly if written in a way that could spark legal action," warns George Lenard, the originator of George's Employment Blawg.

3. They put office staff in the firing line. Sending a job rejection email with a name or number included may have unintended consequences. "Mounting layoffs are creating a glut of qualified job hunters who are desperate for work," says a source at theHRSpecialist.com. "As their frustration grows, more applicants are reading deeper into their rejection letters – sometimes spotting job promises you never intended."

The last thing your office staff wants is to spend time on the phone with rejected job-seekers who have called with the hopes of talking their way back into the job, or worse – questioning whether you made the right hiring decision.

4. They're keeping their options open. Companies may also linger to reject you in case another candidate falls through. Sometimes the No. 1 candidate doesn't work out, so the No. 2 candidate is then called and offered the position. "The company doesn't want to completely shut that door," says Katie Fuller, a recent graduate from UVa McIntire School of Commerce. "If they never come across a good candidate, they can't extend any sort of offer if they've rejected you."

Reasons to Send Rejection Emails

There are many good arguments for notifying candidates that their application has been unsuccessful. Sending job rejection letters can actually build brand goodwill by giving applicants closure. "When you apply for a job, it often feels like your résumé goes into the same black hole that sucks up your socks in the dryer," says Ellis Blevins, the director of Amadeus Talent, a technical recruiting division of Amadeus Consulting. "We find that a personal approach alleviates a lot of the stress and frustration that happens when applying for jobs."

"The hiring process is an important part of building a company," agrees Jessica Nobrega, director of talent at Grammarly. "Clear communication across all departments and channels is a key piece to ensuring that the company's culture is one of integrity and respect for others."

Whatever you do, avoid this move, posted by a frustrated reviewer with the user name "Pixilated" on the website About.com: "The most memorable [rejection letter] came via email, with the subject line: REJECTED. Wow."

What to Do If You Don't Hear Back

So what's a job seeker to do? The best way forward is to ask at the end of your interview about the next step in the hiring process. "Asking about the timelines gives you the opportunity to follow up," advises a hiring manager at the career coaching website Expectingchange.com. "If the employer says, 'We expect to let people know by the end of this week,' you can then say, 'If I haven't heard back from you by the beginning of next week, is it OK if I call?'"

Asking for the green light to check allows you to take positive action to follow up on your interview, rather than being left in the dark.

When Being Gracious Pays Off

It takes a rare person to respond to rejection with positivity, but writing a gracious thank-you note if you actually do receive a rejection letter will make you stand head and shoulders above other candidates. "If you can muster the professionalism and grace to thank the people who interviewed you, you could transform yourself from a reject into a pearl," says Julie Bauke, president of Congruity Career Consulting. Every time Bauke gets a thank-you letter in response to a rejection, she finds herself wondering: "Did I make the right decision?"

Related Articles From US News:

How to Stand Out and Shine in a Group Interview
How to Turn a Long-Distance Job Search Into a New Long-Term Job
Should You Apply For a Job You're Unqualified For?





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ma

can you send a rejection follow up letter thanking for consideration if they didn't bother to reach out to you by the date they said they would or is that jumping the gun?

July 15 2014 at 9:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
christine.foster49

I think its a real cop out just to say you are too busy to reply, its a lack of professionalism and a throwaway mentality that has become a norm in HR departments. Its the same with recruitment companies, I reply to every applicant with a thank you email ( albeit a fairly standard one but personalised with their first name) and I wish them well in their search.
Or put it another way, when the boot is on the other foot at they are the applicant ( as they will be sooner or later) how would they like to be treated? The fear of litigation is a nonsense, if a company wants to ensure that they are unlikely to be sued then just thank an applicant for their efforts and inform them you have made a decision and appointed. You don't have to give them a reason.
Its laziness, unprofessional and bad practise. If that's how you want to be seen by candidates (remember they WILL get jobs somewhere and they WILL remember those who treated them well or badly) then carry on.
Its sad to say that companies get what they deserve sometimes and its no wonder staff when they are employed see the same unprofessional practises in the workplace.

August 09 2013 at 1:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
uncommonsensesc

I've been on 3 job interviews in the past 6 months where the interviewer has promised me that I'd be contacted with the outcome regardless if I got the job or not - and they've all turned out to be liars! I called 2 of them to check on the decision - and, yes, since I hadn't been contacted I knew what it was, I just wanted to hear it. If I go on a job interview, I do expect to be notified about the decision.

August 08 2013 at 1:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cherkobak

I think if you go on an interview you should get a response. They don't interview that many people. I was looking for a job in 2009 and I would ask at the interview how many applicants applied and they said 400, then I can see them not getting back but it is not quite the same today. I always sent a personal thank you letter after the interview even when I knew the job was not right for me, you never know!

August 07 2013 at 5:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
greenbrdg1

Not sending a letter rejecting a mailed resume' is sort of s tandard behavior --UNLESS the resume was specifically requested by a individual at the company. However, this article starts out discussing someone who not only sent a resume' BUT WHO ALSO HAD AN INTERVIEW! To not send follow-up (at some point) from the company representative simply identifies the employer as a second-class operation... do you REALLy want to work for that sort of employer?

Times are tough, so you probably do want to work there --- start looking for a GOOD job/ GOOD employer immediately!

August 07 2013 at 4:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
maletred

Nonsense! Not responding to an applicant with a letter informing them that the position has been given to another applicant is just plain rude. If an employee acted this way they would be fired on the spot! All it takes is one generic letter, reviewed by an attorney, and you simply send it out to the applicant. As far as telling applicant No. 2 that another got the spot, and then #1does not work out.... so what if you aklready sent #2 a rejection letter? If you now want to revisit #2, then you just contact them and advise that the position has reopened. I think companies are just getting lazy and rude and behaving in ways they would never tolerate from their employees. Different standards between management and labor, eh?

August 07 2013 at 4:13 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
RJM

"When Being Gracious Pays Off

It takes a rare person to respond to rejection with positivity, but writing a gracious thank-you note if you actually do receive a rejection letter will make you stand head and shoulders above other candidates. "If you can muster the professionalism and grace to thank the people who interviewed you, you could transform yourself from a reject into a pearl," says Julie Bauke, president of Congruity Career Consulting. Every time Bauke gets a thank-you letter in response to a rejection, she finds herself wondering: "Did I make the right decision?"

Good suggestion, however, these days many rejection emails come from a "noreply@*****" email address making such a "gracious" thank you letter impossible.

August 07 2013 at 3:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
fin4978262

BS! I just got a rejection letter for a position I applied to at Citi. They did however send me a link to their career section so I could apply again for a different position should I find one I was interested in.

August 07 2013 at 3:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Diane

Employers don't care about employees---they view them as disposable things, not even as human beings. They only care about filling a position & couldn't care less about the people they leave flapping in the breeze, wondering what in the hell happened. Everything is done by email today, too, so they can weed out a lot of candidates before the interviews. Plus---there is the part on online applications where you have to consent to a credit/background check. Why should I have to consent to a credit/background check BEFORE I even have an interview? Are places arbitrarily performing background checks on candidates before they interview them? Is that even legal? I was laid off from my job in February, & I have had several interviews---most tell me I am over qualified. What in the hell does that mean? You'd think an employer would be delighted to have an over qualified employee instead of an under qualified employee or someone just out of school. It makes no sense. I am disheartened, disappointed, frustrated & aggravated at how things are going. Not ever hearing from an employer ever again after an interview is downright rude. The funny thing is, those employers will put themselves out there as wonderful places to work.

August 07 2013 at 2:22 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Diane's comment
Fran

Overqualified candidates get passed up on because the employer thinks they will move to a job they are more qualified for if an offer for one came around. That might be true in some cases but for some companies overqualified candidates are a plus. Say the person's would-be boss is older. If he/she is planning on retiring in the next few years an overqualified applicant might be appealing. It would take some of the guess work out of who should be the successor. But that only works if there isn't already an employee that would fit that role. I wish you luck in getting a new job.

August 07 2013 at 5:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Laura

Appling for a job and never getting a response is not only rude but callous.

August 07 2013 at 2:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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