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How to respond to a job rejection email

Check out this article to learn how to respond to a job rejection email so you can make connections and find a great job.

For most people, rejection is a natural part of the job search process. But, that does not make it any easier to receive rejection emails, especially if you have spent hours on your applications, assignments, and interviews.

At Pathrise, we have helped nearly 1,000 people navigate their job searches to ultimately find great positions that pay them well over industry standards. In doing so, we have worked with each person on how to handle rejection, including how to respond to a job rejection email positively.

If you have made it to the final round of the interview cycle with a company but you do not receive an offer, we always recommend sending back a polite email. Most people will forgo this step, but it really is an important piece of the job search, just like sending follow up emails after your interviews and negotiating your salary

Why is it important to respond to job rejection emails?

  • By sending a polite response, you are showing the company that you are professional, gracious, and personable.
  • If you are really interested in working at this company, this can be an opportunity to add the recruiter to your network and stay at the top of their mind if they need to hire again in the near future.
  • Even if they do not need to hire again soon, they might make a recommendation to a partner or friend based on their experience interviewing you.

Here are our top tips on how to respond to a job rejection email

1. Be polite and thank the team

The first thing you should do in this email response is thank the recruiter or hiring manager for their decision. You should also express your gratitude to the team for taking the time to meet with you. Mention what you learned about the company, their goals, and the culture and explain how much you enjoyed speaking with everyone. Be kind, but make sure you are sincere. Don’t go overboard, you can do this in 1-2 sentences at the start of the message.

2. Let them know you are disappointed

Next, you want to express your disappointment in the outcome as politely as possible. You can be upfront because this shows you were, and still are, actually interested in this role and company. Hopefully, they will take that into consideration if a new position opens up or if the person chosen for the role decides it is not a good fit. Keep this part of the message light and short, you don’t want your message to feel negative.

3. Remind them you are still interested in the company

Make a note that you would still like to work at the company if another role opened up. They might not know if you have another position lined up or if you are not open to hearing about new positions because of this decision, so just reiterate your interest. This also opens the door for you to reach out after some time if you see a new opening on their website.

4. (Optional) Ask for feedback

If you made it through most or all of the interviews and you were not selected for the role, most recruiters and hiring managers will add a little feedback about why they made their decision. However, if they did not include this, you can ask for brief feedback so you can make any necessary changes in your future applications, assignments, and interviews. If you decide to do this, be very polite and considerate. This is not an opportunity to argue or question their choice.

In addition, remember that companies make decisions for many different reasons. You might not be the right fit based on your background or they might have chosen someone else because they were an internal hire, a referral, or a different experience level than you. 

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How to respond to a job rejection email: Template

Hi [name],

Thank you for getting back to me with this decision. I really appreciated the opportunity to chat with the members of the team. I learned a lot of valuable information about the company, the work you are doing to solve such an important problem, and the incredibly welcoming culture you have built.

Of course, I am disappointed with this outcome because I was really excited about the role and potentially joining [company]. I would love it if you could keep me in mind if anything changes with this role or if any new positions open up on the team. [Optional – In addition, would you be able to provide any feedback on why you decided to move in a different direction? This knowledge would help me greatly as I continue to apply and interview with other companies.]

I really enjoyed working with you through this process and I would love to stay in touch. If it is alright with you, I sent you a connection request on LinkedIn. 

All the best,

[your name]

With the above tips and templates, you should be able to know how to respond to a job application email in a way that remains positive and expands your network.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, our fellows triple their application response rates and double their interview scores.

If you want to work with any of our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with your job search, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today.

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Alex MacPherson

Hi I'm Alex! Since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2019, I have worked on the growth team for Pathrise helping job seekers hone their skills to land their dream role through curated content on interview prep, resume building and more.

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