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In our harried and litigious world, it’s tempting not to send rejection emails or letters to applicants.

If employers fail to send notices of rejection, it’s usually for these reasons:

1. High volume of applicants — Depending on the situation, job-opening announcements can create hundreds of responses.

2. Fear of lawsuits — Employers often fear legal actions by rejected applicants.

3. Apprehension over unintended consequences — By sending notices, managers don’t want a flood of applicants calling – either hoping they can get the decision reversed or being reproached for declining to hire the rejected applicants.

4. Trying to keep options open — Some bosses are leery about the No. 1 applicant. They think they can hire the No. 2 applicant if the first person fails to be a successful hire.

But it’s bad form to appear rude and unprofessional.

For applicants, it’s very annoying to be rejected. It’s even more infuriating for them not to be treated with dignity and common courtesies.

It’s best to remember the Golden Rule. Treat applicants as though you’d want to be treated.

No exceptions – every applicant, though obviously unqualified, deserves to be treated with professionalism.

It also demonstrates you have positive employment practices as a terrific company.

There’s another factor to consider: Applicants are prospective customers. Do your best to avoid creating bad feelings by sending a simple letter.

This is an important philosophy in the hiring process as you build and brand your company. This will help you to build a culture of trust, integrity and respect.

You can send legally smart rejection letters.

Here are the dos and don’ts:

1. Use a template to avoid risk. Don’t send a custom or personalized letter. You risk a legal reaction if you send incorrect or too much reasoning for rejecting the person.

2. Don’t mention or refer to the qualifications of the successful applicant or applicants – either as an individual or group of applicants in-general.

A litigious person might hire an attorney. You’d soon get a letter demanding to see applications of the other candidates.

3. Don’t indicate you’ll keep the person’s resume on hand for future openings. You’ll open yourself to legal challenges should you misplace or destroy the resume.

4. Don’t intimate the applicant should apply for future openings. Also, don’t suggest any specifics. Why? You’ll create the idea in the person’s mind that you believe the applicant is suitable for other positions. Multiple turn-downs to the wrong person often leads to going to court.

5. Keep the rejection concise with graciousness. Be polite and insert the person’s name in the salutation.

6. Thank the applicant but quickly mention the rejection followed by wishing the person good luck. End the rejection with “Best wishes,” or “Sincerely,” followed by your name and title.

7. Be careful about using empathy. Don’t write “Unfortunately…” or “I’m sorry.” As it is, you incur some negativity but don’t make it worse than it needs to be.

8. Send the letter as soon as possible. Making a candidate wait only creates more resentment.

From the Coach’s Corner, relevant information:

Vital Strategies to Avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Federal employment discrimination complaints are sky-high — a sad commentary for businesses and public agencies that are large enough for a human resources department. Here’s what you need to know.

In Tight Job Market, How to Market Your Company to Applicants — With the unemployment rate at the lowest it’s been in more than five decades and with seven-million unfilled jobs in America, this is a tight market for attracting talented employees. So, if you need to fill a position, the last thing you want is to be turned down by an applicant who appears to be a perfect fit for your culture.

Hiring Applicants: 5 Deadly Sins of Even Savvy Managers — In this competitive and litigious marketplace, small details in human resources can make or break a company. Even though an organization’s performance matters, many managers unfortunately take shortcuts in the hiring process.

Management Strategies for Productive Applicant Interviews — You must be assertive – ask the right questions and listen intently to cut through the morass of canned answers to get the answers you need to make good hiring decisions.

Basics to Consider Before Writing Nondisclosure Agreements — If you have business secrets to protect you might want to use a confidentiality policy, a nondisclosure agreement and possibly a noncompete agreement. Here are the pros and cons.

Time spent on hiring is time well spent.”

-Robert Half


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.