Rejection letters: A thing of the past?

Saw this on the NPR website and it got me to thinking about my previous job searches and what's going on with the job market right now. Basically, the author is upset that her son applied for an internship and never heard back. She argues that he should have at least received a rejection letter.


I know what it's like to take the time to tailor my resume and cover letter and never hear anything. It definitely leaves one to wonder what's going on: Did they get my resume? Have they hired anyone yet? What's going on?!

On the other side of the coin, I've watched how resumes are flooding in whenever there is an open position here. I watched a colleague try to sort through a huge stack of resumes for an entry-level job -- and that was after HR had weeded out a lot of the ones sent in. I can't imagine the time and postage it would take to send out rejection letters to all those applicants.

So my question is, do you send out rejection letters? When? Why/why not?



  • 11 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Yes, I encourage all of our hiring supervisors to send out rejection letters. I have templates of simple letters that I can e-mail to the supervisors, where all they have to do is fill in a few blanks. I can't swear that all of them do it all the time; I know a certain number of applicants call back (sometimes very frequently) and end up being told on the phone when the position has been filled.

    I suppose I could understand if they were absolutely inundated with applicants and didn't feel like they had the time to send out rejection letters, but our hiring supervisors are always required to send their rejected applications to me anyway so if they were too swamped then I wouldn't have a problem sending out the letters. To me, it's just common courtesy to let the applicants know.
  • It may be old school, but, I send letters to all who have completed a company application or submitted a solicited resume. I do not send out letters to unsolicited resumes. We usually receive around 300 applications per year. I just think it is the courteous thing to do.
  • We send out a standard thank you for applying letter, and a thank you for interviewing letter. Feedback from both the applicants and the few we choose to interview has always been well received. We believe the $800+ annual postage is well spent.
  • We send thank you emails (we only accept electronic applications) that inform applicants of their status ("sorry, no longer being considered"; or "moved on to the next phase of the process"). I do think it is the polite thing to do and the cost is minimal (staff time).
  • We had two types of postcards "thank you for applying...if selected for an interview you will be contacted...."; and the other is a "thank you for interviewing...after careful review, a decision has been made not to advance your application to the next level...."

    It's kind of tacky, but we just weren't able to get rejection letters out consistently before we decided on this method.
  • During the last major recession I worked in California and had an opening for an entry level position. I received over 400 applications. My boss insisted that I interview everyone who came in. The waiting room was full for days. And of course, they all became a muddle in my mind. The only ones who stood out (and still stand out) were the guy who was looking for his first job and visibly shaking and the guy who said he had an accounting degree from some country in South America. Maybe he did, but for this job it was immaterial. Besides, I didn't have time to check it out and since that was all he would talk about...

    It was a real nightmare.

    Fortunately I don't get that many here. If someone comes in I always go out and talk to them briefly, and don't respond to unsolicited resumes that come in the mail. If we ask for any though, I respond to every one. I just don't interview them all. :)
  • Poor Nae! I can't imagine interviewing all those people.

    We strive (and I say strive) to contact all applicants with a postcard letting them know their application was recieved. Then we strive to contact them all again once some kind of decision was reached either by phone or with a letter.

    Sometimes when I e-mail or call an applicant back, they are genuinely suprised and appreciative. I get the feeling that the silence experienced by this woman's son is more common than it should be.

    We all make mistakes and we all let things slip through the cracks but its inexcusable that the young man's e-mail inquiries about the status of his application were ignored.

    I encourage our supervisors to view hiring as a "PR experience". The goal is a person who feels they were treated respectfully regardless of whether they were hired.
  • Our application states only applications selected for an interview will be contacted, but they are welcome to call at any time to check on the status. Anyone who is interviewed but not hired receives a personal "no thanks" letter.

    Edit, we have considered going to a post card acknowledgement but have not done so yet.
  • I came across an interesting website today and it reminded me of this thread. The website is [URL=""][/URL]
    It allows applicants to order an anonymous e-mail to be sent to the employer. In huge text at the top of the homepage is:

    [I]"Interviewed for a job and then never heard back? No rejection, no anything? Let your interviewer know how rude that is — without burning any bridges."

    [/I] An interesting site for sure. [SIZE=3]
  • We either email or mail a letter confirming receipt of a resume. When the position is filled, we also send letters out notifying all candidates of such. We do not accept unsolicitated resumes and have low turnover. Both factors help us achieve our communications goal. We always want to put our company in a good light to our community and applicants.
  • We only send rejection letters to those we interview. I feel if the manager and the applicant have taken the time to meet and discuss the applicant's qualifications, the applicant should be told what is going on.

    I receive too many unsolicited and solicited resumes in response to ads to be able to send rejection letters to all. I used to send a postcard saying we received the resume and they would be contacted if there was a fit but it would cost a small fortune now in time and postage.

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