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Must we send a 'thanks, but no thanks' letter to all rejected applicants?

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in Human Resources,The HR Specialist Forum

We're reviewing tons of applications for the few positions we're seeking to fill. What's the best practice for notifying applicants who aren't hired? How do other employers do it?—Sylvia, NYC


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerry Ballard October 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

From a legal standpoint you do not have to send a letter to every applicant. Remember for most companies they define an applicant as someone who advanced from simply submitting a resume or application to the next step in the candidate management process (ie phone screen or interview). While not required it is standard protocol to send a note or call anyone who interviewed when they are no longer a candidate. Really helps the company’s reputation.

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Charles September 22, 2009 at 2:18 pm

When I was recruiting I would e/mail a letter to each applicant confirming the reciept of their resume and stating that if there was a potential fit I’d be in touch in the future. It is a humane practice to let an applicant know that the resume was received, and it also underscores the message that the employer will determine the next steps.

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Carol September 9, 2009 at 11:36 am

I also reply via email, especially since I receive so many resumes that way. Anytime I receive a resume when there is no job posted, I let the sender know that their resume will not be kept on file, and that we do not currently have any positions within the company for which they qualify, if that is the case.

If we do have positions within the company for which they qualify, I let them know to watch our website for openings and to reapply when they see one of those positions posted.

After a hiring decision has been made and the offer accept4ed, I contact the applicants who were interviewed to let them know that the position has been filled. This is also done via email.

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Marcia September 2, 2009 at 9:03 am

Many years ago, I was interviewed 3 times for a position with a company that helped other companies be more businesslike. After the last interview, I heard nothing – no letter just saying they had hired someone else.
We only send “reject” letters to those people who actually interview. We let them know we will keep their names on file if an opening should occur. Because of the seasonal nature of our hiring, we have gone to this waiting list many times – we hire close to 300 people each summer.
However, we are doing most of our “letter writing” via e-mail because of the high cost of postage.

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Patricia September 2, 2009 at 8:23 am

We send a postcard to all applicants stating that we received their application and will contact them if we are interested. In addition, if the individual was interviewed but not chosen for the position we give them a phone call and a letter. This process cuts down a lot of phone calls for my organization.

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Patty September 1, 2009 at 6:17 pm

It takes a little extra effort but it is a courtesy to send a notice when the position is closed. Sending a notice also eliminates the calls/inquiries about the position status. If your applicants are applying via a paper application it is easiest to develop a generic postcard stating that the position is closed. If these cards are printed in advance it is less time consuming to just stick on labels for all applicants once the position is closed. If you have an online applicant system, it would be easier to send a mass e-mail to all applicants.

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Kim September 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm

We send letters out to everyone once a decision has been made. We are a small community and this has a nice resonance to those seeking employment.

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Barbara September 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm

I use an automatic email response that goes to everyone who sends their resume in for consideration for any opened positions.

The message states that only those who best meet the qualifications will be contacted within a few weeks for an interview. I then follow up with a letter to everyone that I did a phone interview and a phone call to those who came for an in person interview.

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Kathleen September 1, 2009 at 3:57 pm

After an offer has been made and accepted, I send notes to those candidates who were interviewed. There’s no way I have time to send letters to every applicant.

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