Turning a candidate rejection into a brand-building opportunity is an art, and we’ve gathered insights from top professionals, including Global Employer Branding Specialists and HR managers. From inviting rejected applicants to join a talent community to personalizing rejections with respect, explore the valuable strategies they’ve successfully implemented.

Invite to Join Talent Community

Rejections should never be seen as a closed door. Rather than positioning the rejection as a dead-end, it’s best to reframe the communication in a way that encourages a candidate to apply for future roles.

One practical example is to invite rejected candidates to join your company’s talent community or subscribe to newsletters. Provide applicants with exclusive content, early access to job postings and insights into the company culture. Keeping applicants engaged ensures the organization remains on their radar for future opportunities and helps maintain a positive image.

A rejection today can lead to a successful hire tomorrow. It’s all about transforming setbacks into stepping stones for growth. By reframing your communications in a positive light and pointing to future opportunities, you can still maintain lasting relationships with talent without negatively impacting your employer brand.

Grant Smith
Global Employer Branding Specialist

Offer Constructive Interview Feedback

In our organization, we make it a point to offer constructive feedback to candidates who reach the final stages of the interview process but aren’t selected. This feedback is specific to their interview performance, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement.

We ensure that this communication is empathetic and encouraging, leaving candidates with a positive impression of our company and a clear understanding of how they might improve for future opportunities.

Kimberley Tyler-Smith
VP of Strategy and Growth, Resume Worded

Maintain Hopeful Communication

As an HR professional, ensuring a positive experience for all candidates—seeking feedback post-rejection or not shortlisted—is vital for a strong employer brand and a robust talent pipeline.

In rejection emails, I always try to maintain a positive tone, highlighting that the decision is about fit for the role, not a reflection of the candidate’s abilities. This helps candidates grasp that their application is welcome for future roles as their experience and skills are valued, fostering a hopeful outlook.

Moreover, I encourage them to stay connected and apply for future roles through social media/job postings and also take steps to retain names in databases, especially those close to selection but not chosen. This allows for easy re-connection and cuts down time on sourcing, selection and discussions when positions align with their skills. While seemingly routine, its impact becomes evident over time, proving it to be an effective practice.

Divvya Desai
HR, NamanHR

Personalize Rejection with Respect

I believe in delivering rejection news with a personal touch. This means providing constructive feedback, thanking candidates for their time, and encouraging them to apply for future positions. By treating candidates with respect and empathy, we not only preserve their dignity but also leave a lasting positive impression about our agency.

A successful instance of this approach was with a candidate who wasn’t the right fit for a particular role but showed great potential. After a personalized rejection, I kept in touch, offering occasional industry insights and potential job leads. Months later, when a suitable role opened up, this candidate was not only willing but eager to reapply. They were hired and became one of our top performers. This experience underscored how thoughtful rejections can nurture a talent pipeline and enhance our brand’s reputation.

Shane McEvoy
MD, Flycast Media