Thursday, July 20, 2023

Humane Rejection Letters: Be Kind, Be Personal

Humane Rejection Letters: Be Kind, Be Personal
By Leah Connor on 4/26/2022

I think I’ve applied for at least 500 jobs (more than half of those via LinkedIn’s Easy Apply feature which makes it super quick and simple).

Although I don’t keep a record of every single job application, I do have an extensive spreadsheet with data on all of my interviews, including the rejection letters.

Since I’ve turned 50, I’ve had conversations with over 50 companies and the vast majority have sent me generic and impersonal rejection letters, often only after I followed-up asking for an update.

The more templated form letters I receive after interviews, the more I find this to be completely unacceptable and unnecessarily demoralizing.

I’m not a HR expert, but I’m a human being and I know that I share a lot about myself and my experiences in every interview. It would mean so much to me if I would receive a message referencing something positive and unique about our interaction rather than an impersonal template letter.

I strongly believe that if you meet with someone for an hour, especially if it’s more than once, there’s absolutely no excuse for a generic rejection.

I’ve actually received better rejection letters from companies that I never spoke with than I have from places I met on 2-3 separate occasions. In retrospect, I’m grateful that things didn’t work out with companies that aren’t kind in the interviewing process. It’s usually a sign of bigger human resources issues.

I believe the best systems for responding to applicants is to have an automatic email reply to all submissions that explains that they’ll only be contacted again if they are selected for an interview. It never feels good to get a rejection letter weeks or months later from a position. you never interviewed for and you almost forgot you applied.

For example:

Dear [first name],
    Thank you for your interest in career opportunities with [company]. We are pleased that you have considered our organization as a potential for your future career endeavors.
    Our team is currently reviewing your credentials for the [job title] opportunity and will contact you should there be an interest in discussing your qualifications further. Otherwise, your information will be kept on file for future consideration.
    Again, we appreciate your interest in [company]. We wish you much success in your job search.

After my most recent rejection, I searched for resources on rejection letters to find that there are plenty of professionals who agree with me on the importance of being personal in a letter to someone you’ve met for an interview.

​Here are some highlights:

For anyone with whom you’ve had a conversation (i.e., beyond an initial resume screen where you’ve had a first round phone screen), don’t use a generic letter from a job rejection letter template. This is one I feel very strongly about. If you’ve had more than a five minute conversation with someone, you should be able to specify briefly why the candidate hasn’t made it to the next round. By adding even one point referencing your conversation from the interview process, you’ll provide a basic rationale to your decision related to her own candidacy.

The deeper in the recruiting and hiring process someone goes, the more you “owe” them am actual specific rationale for your decision. Particularly, if someone’s had any amount of in person interviews, or even more so, have completed any type of assignment for you as part of the evaluation, there’s no excuse for not providing some level of personalization. The candidate took time to prepare, engage with you recruiters, travel to your office, possibly reschedule other commitments or obligations, etc. They’re receiving potentially bad news now; be respectful of her efforts and appreciative of her interests in your company.

Source: comeet

Offer some positive aspects about their qualifications or interview
To leave a good impression with the candidate, choose one or two qualities that you liked about them. Describing these positive aspects can also help them better understand the strengths that they can highlight more moving forward.


Personalise the rejection letter
Too often, generic templates are sent to unsuccessful candidates where they not only sound robotic, stiff and dishonest but display a negative and poor representation of the company and recruiter.
When sending rejection letters, personalise it by mentioning something positive you noted during the interview, and make sure their name is spelled correctly; attention to detail shows you made an effort. Of course, it’s understandable that recruiters may be dealing with 50 job openings at any given time and managing hundreds of candidates waiting for a response. But try and see it like this: your candidate could one day be your client, consumer or employer.

Source: Job Adder

The Effect of Different Rejection Letters on Applicants’ Reactions​
Organisations appear to pay little attention to rejection letters, considered a special form of organisational communication, despite a growing body of literature that shows they play an important role in terms of employer branding. This study aims to empirically test how applicants’ perceptions are affected by differently manipulated rejection letters. In detail, a sample of 138 rejected candidates filled in an ad hoc questionnaire on perceived selection procedure fairness and satisfaction, after receiving a rejection letter where we had manipulated time latency, the politeness formula and customisation. Results suggest that providing a timely, customised and informal notification is something agreeable, which is able to affect, above all, fairness perceptions and intention to re-apply. In detail, the time latency in giving feedback appears to affect the relationship between fairness perception and organisational recommendation and acts more as a mediator rather than an antecedent variable. Considering that providing feedback is a relatively low-cost activity that at the same time has a big impact on job applicants, our results show that organisations should be sensitive to negative feedback communication, especially in relation to response time, in order to support their employer branding.
Source: behavioral sciences

The candidate took time out of her week to prepare for your interview process, so if you were impressed by her during the interview, it could make a huge difference to let her know. Simply include one strength of hers you remembered from the interview process, like "Our team was particularly impressed with your writing skills."

To truly add value, however, you'll also want to include constructive feedback to help your candidate understand areas she can focus on improving. Take detailed notes during the interview, and when you reject your applicant, provide one or two areas of improvement. Your feedback could help her career success in the future.

Source: HubSpot

Be personal
Templates make things much more manageable and assure that you address everything that you need to in each rejection. Leave sections in your templates for personalization. Mention the candidate’s name in the opening and sign the message with your own. Take ownership over the rejection, rather than just hiding behind your company’s name. If you’ve spoken with them or they’ve gone through the process, mention something from your conversation if you can. Providing personal details helps the candidate feel like they are more than just a number to you and can soften the rejection blow.
Source: Nicereply.

Be kind 
Spending a little time reflecting on a candidate's experience can make the job seeker feel your decision is considered and fair. A rejection with no explanation can lead to confusion, frustration, and upset.
Source: Flowrite

Offer feedback
A lot of companies don’t give feedback as a policy to prevent themselves from possible lawsuits. However, a little goes a long way, and you don’t have to be incredibly specific to give the candidate something of value. However, if you want to go the extra mile, tell them why you chose someone else and why the were not a good fit for the role. Good candidates will appreciate the opportunity to better themselves professionally. Plus, reading an “it’s not you, it’s us” type rejection letter can help soothe the ego hit of getting rejection after rejection. You never know, it could be the very thing that pushes them in a totally new career direction!
​Source: toggl

How Soon Is Now?: Promises and Accountability in Life and the Job Hunt

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Life as a twin rewarding, despite the occasional confusion

Malinda Ann Hill
is writing an updated version of Leah Connor's "Life as a twin rewarding, despite the occasional confusion" and the working title is "Real Runners of Charlottesville"

Life as a twin rewarding, despite the occasional confusion
Leah Hill
October 24, 1991
My Opinion
Daily Collegian 

As the weeks go by, more people are beginning to recognize me from my columns. Unfortunately, I haven't actually talked to all of these people because some of them have recognized my twin sister -- not me.

So, I decided to let everyone know that there is a person out there who resembles me. To be honest, it is more like a warning --I don't think I can be responsible for the actions of my twin sister, Mindy. She might not be so nice, friendly and understanding to the next person who calls her Leah.

But who could blame her? Wouldn't you begin to get a little upset and/or have an identity crisis if people who even had classes with you don't remember you as Mindy, but instead ask, "Hey, don't you write for the Collegian?"

Personally, I enjoy being a twin. It's usually the first thing I tell people about myself. I figure it is a good conversation starter. If my twin isn't there by my side when I first meet someone, most people ask if we are identical. Here is where I sort of get stuck.

There's this genetic thing that I'm not quite sure about so I end up sounding like a complete idiot.

"Well, most people think we look alike but, to tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure if the egg split or if there were, in fact, two eggs. I'll have to get back to you on that one."

As it is common for those children who aren't the first born, Mindy and I have considerably fewer baby pictures than my older sister Heather. The excuse my parents gave me for this lack of a pictoral history is that they were too busy trying to keep both of us fed and dry. They didn't always have the time to capture the moment with Kodak.

Yeah, sure. It wouldn't be so bad if the few photos we do have weren't, well, how should I put this, somewhat ambiguous. The problem is we aren't actually sure who is who. It's always fun having my friends try to guess which baby or toddler is me. However, they are a little disappointed when they expect a definite answer and I regretfully inform them that their guess is as good as mine.

But, I shouldn't be so hard on my parents. Mindy and I have had the same problem. Last month, we were looking through some recent pictures and Mindy said, "That's a really good picture of you." At first I agreed with her, but a minute or two later (after realizing that I had never worn that outfit) I said, "Hey Mindy, that's not me, it's YOU!" It was a scary moment.

People often ask if we ever dressed alike. When we were little all of our relatives would give us identical outfits. It was always a thrill when we got matching outfits in different colors and had to fight over who got which color. However, as we got older we realized that we would have twice the wardrobe potential if we had different clothes. I must stress the word potential because it's not always feasible to borrow a sweater from your sister when you are having an argument.

Finally, most people want to know if I like being a twin. For the most part, it's great. But, this mistaken identity thing, although it is amusing, can get on my nerves. Sometimes it's not worth trying to explain to someone that I am not who they think I am. I just smile and go on my merry way. Other times people will go on talking to me without giving me the chance to say, "Hey, wait a minute, I am NOT Mindy, leave me alone."

My freshman year at Pitt I lived with six people and I didn't have the chance to let them all know about Mindy. So for the first few weeks I got the reputation of being unfriendly because I (in reality, Mindy) didn't say hello to them on the street. Therefore, I have been conditioned to say "hi" to people I don't even know just because I don't want them to think that my sister is rude.

The most memorable experience of mistaken identity here at Penn State was during the summer at Ritenour. Mindy and I ended up being there at the same time. Mistake.

The nurse kindly showed me to the doctor's office. As I nervously sat there I heard all sorts of commotion outside. Then, the nurse came back and said, "Didn't I tell you to go to the room across the hall?" I said no.

And then it hit me, she doesn't know who I am. After about fifteen minutes and a mini-conference among the nurse, doctor and a few other people, we got the whole thing straightened out. Ever since then, Mindy and I make sure to schedule appointments on different days.

Despite the occasional identity crisis and having to share a birthday, I never regret being a twin. Although even if I did, there really isn't anything I could do about it.

Not all twins get along, but Mindy is my best friend. She really understands me and not just because in the eyes of some people she has actually been me. We have a special connection. Therefore, in the hope of keeping my sister's sanity in check (not to mention for other people's safety) I'll give you some tips on telling us apart.

If you see "me" carrying an art portfolio, it's Mindy. She's the artist. If you see me in the computer lab, feel free to say "hi" and compliment me on my column. If you see "me" working in The Gap, it's really Mindy. If I'm working in the HUB Eateries, again feel free to say "hi."

If, despite these guidelines, you still happen to say "Hi Leah, I like your column," to my sister and she lets you have it, please don't let that stop you from reading my next column.

Leah Hill is a junior majoring in women's studies and a Thursday columnist for The Daily Collegian.