The benefits of rejection

Rejection may very well be the most important part of recruitment.

We tend to talk a lot about finding and attracting candidates, creating talent pools and a strong employer brand. What we sometimes seem to forget is that no matter how efficient our efforts are in these areas, the number of candidates that will successfully go through the recruitment process will only ever constitute a small percentage of all of the candidates we engage with. And yet we don’t focus on perfecting our rejection process nearly as much as on attracting candidates.

To me that doesn’t make sense. And here’s why:

Contrary to what we may think, rejection is hardly ever the end of a sourcer’s relationship with the candidates. Quite the opposite: it is the perfect occasion to build that relationship. If you’re wondering what you can do to stand out from the crowd as a recruitment professional, you may want to focus on that very step. What’s the one thing every candidate really wants whether successful or not? This is not based on any research, but wouldn’t common sense suggest communication? Instead of just updating the step in the ATS, maybe sending out a generic ‘thanks but no thanks’ email, try picking up the phone and delivering the news in person. You’d be surprised how genuinely grateful some of your candidates will be.

And while you’re at it, why not provide some feedback as well? I know it’s tough, it requires going that extra mile to uncover the real reason for rejection, instead of just going with ‘other candidates that had a more relevant experience’. This doesn’t really mean anything and it’s definitely not useful to a candidate. And after all, what could be better for your own talent pool than making sure that candidates you once rejected get a position elsewhere – they are already keen on your organization and may just pick up the skills they were lacking in the first place, which can potentially solve your talent shortage issues in the future.

Somehow, despite the constant discussions about how important it is to think about the long term perspective and the availability of technology that can support it, some of us still seem to behave as if each day they spend in recruitment could be their last. Not having enough time is no excuse for this lack of perspective and you’re never going to have more time if you don’t invest some of it in building relationships. And in your rejection process. After all, we all know how tricky attracting talent can be, so why wouldn’t you do anything you can to keep the relationship going with the candidates you’ve already managed to sell on your company?

Social Recruiting geek turned trainer @ Lightness, networking enthusiast & blogger. Love travel, sci-fi & all things employer branding! I travel between London and Poland a lot and so some of my social posts will be in Polish :)

8 thoughts on “The benefits of rejection”

  1. Pingback: Best Blogs 29 Aug 2014 | ChristopherinHR

  2. heckman144 - September 2, 2014 7:47 pm

    I agree! I recently applied, interviewed and told I was not going to get the job. I was personally called by the hiring manager and given a good reason for why I was not chosen. I will tell everyone I know what a great experience it was to interact with this company and I wish the best for them. If something else comes up I will strongly suggest any one who I think will be a good fit to at least give them a shot.

    1. Kasia Borowicz - September 2, 2014 8:05 pm

      Thank you so much for that comment, I’m happy to see it’s not just a theory but that candidates will react positively when they are treated well during the process even if the outcome is not what they hoped for.
      I appreciate you sharing your perspective :)

  3. Pingback: The benefits of rejection | hrthoughtbubble

  4. drruben000 - November 11, 2014 8:22 pm

    Well said! And very insightful.

    1. Kasia Borowicz - November 11, 2014 8:26 pm

      Thanks :)

  5. Noemi - November 24, 2015 9:39 pm

    Although I think its not really about picking up the phone, but giving a meaningful feedback… can be an email as well :)

    1. Kasia - November 25, 2015 12:19 pm

      Thanks for the comment Noemi. I think for me it’s maybe a little easier to deliver that message over the phone, but all depends on your relationship with the candidate. I will sometimes share in an email if that’s a strong preference or waiting to talk on the phone would significantly delay things. Also, for many it’s a corporate habit: never deliver upsetting news in writing because if your delivery isn’t great, that could then be shared with others… I used to work for a company that would have that as a rule, I’m sure there’s more.


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