How to Respond to a Job Rejection Email

How to Respond to a Job Rejection Email

It can be very disheartening to apply for a job and receive a rejection email. This can come after you have taken part in the interview process or sometimes after sending your initial application.

Your instinct might be to read the email and safely file it away in a folder. In reality, there are many reasons why it could be a good idea to respond to a job rejection rather than ignore it.

Why Should You Respond to a Job Rejection Email?


By acknowledging the email, you are acting professionally. Making sure that you respond graciously, wishing the company success in the future and thanking them for the opportunity to apply reflects well on you. It also indicates the kind of attitude that you may have as an employee.

All of this can mean that employers may remember your name if you apply for other roles in the future. They may offer feedback and even recommend alternative roles that they know of.

None of this is guaranteed, but if you don’t reply to the email, you'll never know.

Showing an Interest

Sending a reply shows an employer that you really were interested in working for their company. You can also use it as an opportunity to show you are still interested by asking to be kept informed if circumstances change and other positions become available.

By replying in a professional manner, you are also indicating that you want the best for the company. You hope that they will carry on being successful in the future, no matter whom they choose to employ.

Keeps the Door Open

Just because the company has chosen an alternative applicant, doesn’t mean that the role has necessarily been filled.

There are many reasons why a potential employee could decide against accepting a job. It is also possible they will feel that they aren’t a good fit for the company and may decide to leave soon after starting.

By acknowledging your rejection email and sending a well-worded reply, if the situation with the new employee changes, you could become one of the alternative candidates considered for the role. Your name may also come up in conversation when new roles become available in the future.

Networking Opportunities

Every person you have contact with in your preferred industry is a potential networking opportunity.

Networking is the practice of creating a wide variety of contacts who can be useful to you as you progress throughout your career. You will also be a contact who could be useful to someone else.

Sending a response to your rejection email is a potential networking opportunity, as you can request that your information be kept on file so that they contact you if new roles become available. Alternatively, you can request to keep the company’s contact details in your address book.

How Do You Politely Respond to a Job Rejection Email?

When considering how to reply to a rejection email, think about what should and shouldn’t be included.

What to Include

A Thank You

You should always start your email by saying thank you. Many companies receive so many applications that they don’t reply to all of the unsuccessful candidates before they narrow down the ones they want to interview.

So, if you receive an email at this stage, your application has probably at least been looked at.

If you are rejected after having gone through part, or all, of the interview process, it is especially important to say thank you.

Although you have been unsuccessful, there are things you can learn from the experience that could lead to success in your next job application.

Interest in Future Opportunities

By showing you are interested in future roles within the company, you are telling an employer you are keen to work for them and feel that the environment they offer would be a good match for you.

Also, if something goes wrong with the person they initially choose to hire, they may keep you in mind as a potential replacement.

As well as keeping you in mind for future roles within their company, there is always the possibility they may be able to suggest alternative roles to you within other companies that offer similar services or have a similar ethic.

Request for Feedback

Not all companies will offer feedback. It often depends on how far through the interview process you went before you were rejected.

Most people who are rejected before they have had a telephone interview or in-person interview will find that feedback isn’t available for them.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for it.

It can be a good idea to ask for feedback on why your application wasn’t chosen. The information you receive can help you to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

For example, it could be that the company chose someone with more experience in a specific area.

Knowing this would enable you to gain more knowledge in this area yourself, so you will be more experienced when you next apply for a similar role.

How to Respond to a Job Rejection Email
How to Respond to a Job Rejection Email

What to Avoid


You might be feeling unhappy – perhaps even angry – about not being a company's first-choice candidate. This is completely understandable and a normal reaction to rejection, but it’s important not to let this show in your response.

If you respond in a way that comes across as angry or bitter, this will make you seem unprofessional, and employers are likely to feel that they made the right decision in not hiring you. It can harm your chance of being selected the next time a suitable role becomes available.

Instead, aim for a cheerful, upbeat tone that is grateful for the opportunity and not resentful for being unsuccessful.

Sample Responses to a Rejection Email

Example One

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your email dated ___ to inform me of the progress of my application for the role of ___ within your company.

Although I was disappointed to learn that I have been unsuccessful on this occasion, I appreciate your taking the time to let me know.

Would you be able to give me any feedback regarding anything in my application that could have been done differently to gain a better outcome with future applications? I am always looking to improve, so it would be useful to know of any mistakes that have been made.

I would be grateful if you could retain my information on file and keep me in mind for any roles that become available in the future that you feel I could be a good fit for. I feel that your company would be a good fit for my work ethic and personal values, so would appreciate the opportunity to apply in the future.

Thank you again for your time.

Mrs Jane Smith

Example Two

Hi John,

Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me last week. I really appreciated your most recent email to update me with the progress of my application.

While I am disappointed not to have been successful in my application, I really enjoyed the experience of interviewing with you. Having the opportunity to come and discuss the role helped me gain valuable interview experience that I hope to use in the future.

Would you be able to give me any feedback regarding my application and interview? I find feedback valuable in helping to guide my personal growth and ensuring that I am able to improve in the most important areas.

I would really appreciate it if you would keep me in mind for similar roles that might become available in the future. Having experienced a taste of what life is like within your company, it seems to be an environment I would love to work in.

Many thanks,

Matt Jacobs

Template Response to a Rejection Email

There is no hard and fast rule for exactly what you should write, and sometimes it will depend on how far along the recruitment process you have traveled.

However, there are various distinct topics typically found in a rejection response.

  1. Address your letter (‘Dear Sir/Madam’ if you don’t know the recipient or ‘Dear [name]‘ if you do).

  2. Start by thanking them for letting you know about the status of your application. If you have been interviewed before being rejected, it is a good idea to also thank them for this opportunity.

  3. Express your disappointment for not being selected. Try not to sound too negative about it, but it is important to include this in your response as it shows the employer that you genuinely wanted to work for them.

  4. Ask to be considered in the future should similar roles become available – situations change within a company all the time. It is possible that another role will become available that you may be better suited for.

  5. Request feedback from your application or interview. Not every company will give feedback, but it can be useful to know if there are any areas where you could improve.

  6. Close with a professional sentence and signature. Some people choose to add a contact number or web address, although this isn’t necessary as the employer will have this information from your initial application.

Final Thoughts

It’s never nice to get a rejection email, but unfortunately it is a fact of life for many people looking for work in the current employment climate.

Knowing how to respond to such an email – and taking the time to craft an appropriate response – can significantly improve the way that you are seen by potential employers and increase your networking potential. It can even improve your chance of being selected next time.

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