How to Respond to a Rejection Email [With Examples]
We've all (unfortunately) experienced the pit-in-your-stomach feeling that accompanies the bad news of a rejection email, or even a voicemail rejection.
It's totally normal to be bummed about a job rejection — you worked hard on your resume and application, and you knew you'd be a good fit. But more often than not, rejections leave the door open for you to find the right opportunity and hopefully even your dream job.
Knowing how to respond to a rejection email will help you turn this experience into something helpful moving forward.
3 key takeaways you'll get from this article
- While receiving a rejection email can be discouraging, there many reasons why you should always respond.
- Reasons you may not have landed the job
- How to professionally and effectively respond to a job rejection email
What is a rejection email?
A job rejection email is an email message sent by an employer or hiring manager to a job candidate to inform them that they have not been selected for the position they applied for. The email typically thanks the candidate for their interest in the position and the company, and may provide some brief feedback or reasons why they were not chosen.
Rejection emails are a common part of the job application process and can be challenging to receive, but they can also provide valuable information and feedback for job seekers to improve their skills and chances of future success.
Why you should respond to a rejection email
Receiving a rejection email can be disappointing, but it's important to approach your response with a positive and professional tone, express gratitude, and keep it brief and to the point. There are several reasons why you might consider responding to a rejection email:
Responding to a rejection email in a courteous and professional manner reflects positively on your character and professionalism. It shows that you respect the decision and are gracious in your response, which can leave a favorable impression on the sender and others who may be aware of the situation.
If the rejection email is related to a job application, business proposal, or other opportunity, responding can help you maintain a positive relationship with the sender. It demonstrates your professionalism and leaves the door open for future opportunities. The sender may remember your response and consider you for future openings or collaborations.
Some rejection emails may contain feedback or reasons for the decision. By responding, you can express gratitude for the feedback and seek further clarification or suggestions for improvement. This can provide valuable insights that you can use to enhance your future applications or proposals.
Responding to a rejection email can provide a sense of closure and help you move on from the disappointment of being rejected. It allows you to acknowledge the outcome, express your gratitude, and mentally close that chapter, so you can focus on other opportunities with a positive mindset.
Responding to emails, including rejection emails, is generally considered good email etiquette. It shows that you are courteous, professional, and responsive, which can leave a positive impression on the sender and others who may be involved.
How to respond to a rejection email
Write a strong subject line
A well worded email subject line will increase your chances of the recipient seeing and reading your response. The subject line should be straightforward and unambiguous, indicating that the email is a response to a rejection email.
If the subject line of the rejection email is clear and relevant, you can simply hit "reply" and use the same subject line. However, if the subject line is not descriptive enough, it may be necessary to modify it to reflect the content of your response.
Here are a few examples:
- Response to [Position] opportunity
- Rejection response from [Your Name]
- Grateful for the interview experience for [Position] at [Company]
- Keeping in touch for future openings at [Company]
Thank the sender
Start your email by thanking the sender for taking the time to consider your application. You can thank them for the opportunity to apply, the chance to interview (if given), as well as for notifying you of their decision. A simple and sincere thank-you message can go a long way in maintaining a good relationship with the sender and keeping you in consideration for future opportunities.
Keep your foot in the door
Express your continued interest in the company and inquire about future opportunities. This shows that you are still interested in working with the company and can help keep the relationship open.
Responding to a rejection email can also be an opportunity to network. You can express your appreciation for the opportunity, thank the sender for their time and consideration, and inquire about other potential opportunities or professional connections and contacts within their network. This can help you expand your professional network and open doors for future possibilities.
Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback after a rejection email can be a valuable opportunity to gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate. This feedback can help you improve your job search strategy, hone your interview skills, and make better-informed decisions in the future.
Asking for and receiving feedback after a job rejection letter can help you identify areas where you can improve your resume, cover letter, and interview performance. Requesting feedback shows the sender that you are genuinely interested in improving your skills and growing as a professional. This can help build a positive relationship with the sender and keep you in consideration for future interviews.
Feedback can give you a better understanding of what employers are looking for in a candidate and what you can do to stand out in the job market.
Maintain a positive tone
When it comes to responding to a rejection email, it's all about keeping things positive and professional. While it can be tough to swallow the news, it's important not to let your disappointment get the best of you.
Instead, take a deep breath and focus on expressing gratitude for the opportunity to apply and be considered. Show some love to the company and its employees, and let them know that you're still interested in future job opportunities.
By responding in a polite and gracious manner, you'll leave a lasting impression and keep the door open for potential future endeavors!
Reasons you didn't land an interview
As a job seeker, it's important to remember that there are many factors that can contribute to receiving a rejection email before landing an interview. Sometimes, employers receive a high volume of applications and have to make tough decisions based on resumes or cover letters. If your application doesn't meet the minimum requirements or qualifications for the job title, you may receive a rejection email without being considered for an interview.
Another possibility is that you may have missed a step in the application process, such as failing to include a required document or submitting your application after the deadline. There's also the chance that you received an interview rejection email because the company you applied to may have undergone a restructuring or downsizing, resulting in the position being put on hold or taken down or completely.
Reasons you didn't get past the first round interview
You did it! You landed an interview for an opportunity that excites you!
After meeting with the hiring team, you take the initiative to send a follow-up email eagerly awaiting their response. Although it may be disappointing, receiving a rejection email after the first interview is a natural part of the job search process.
There are a number of reasons why a job seeker might receive a rejection email after the first round interview. One possibility is that you simply weren't the best fit for the role based on your qualifications and interview performance. The employer may have found another candidate who had more relevant experience or a better cultural fit with the company.
Another reason could be that the employer received a high number of qualified candidates, making it difficult to select only a few for the next round of interviews. Additionally, the company's hiring needs or the requirements for the job may have changed during the hiring process, which could impact your forward momentum in the interview process.
Reasons you didn't land the job after the final interview
Making it to the final round of interviews is a significant accomplishment and can be a challenging and competitive process. It requires a lot of time, effort, and preparation to make it that far in the hiring process, and it's understandable to feel disappointed if you don't ultimately land the job.
Receiving a job rejection email after making it to the final round of interviews can be a tough pill to swallow. It's easy to feel like you were so close to landing the job, but ultimately fell short. There are a variety of reasons why this can happen, and it's important to remember that it's not always a reflection on your skills or qualifications.
One reason may be that there was simply another candidate who was a better fit for the role. This can be especially true for highly competitive positions, where even small differences in qualifications or interview performance can make a big impact.
Another reason may be that the company's hiring needs changed during the process, or that they decided to go in a different direction with the role. It's also possible that there were external factors at play, such as budget cuts or a change in company strategy.
Receiving a rejection after the final round of interviews could also be due to a lack of fit with the company culture or team dynamics. Even if you demonstrated the necessary skills and experience, you may not have been the best fit for the organization's values or working style.
Additionally, factors such as salary expectations or availability may come into play, and the employer may decide to go with a candidate who is more aligned with their needs in these areas.
How to ask for feedback in your job rejection email response
At the end of your email, you can politely ask for the hiring managers/interview team to share feedback and constructive criticism via email, a phone call, or in person. While email is the most common method, a phone call can position you as a more memorable candidate. In person feedback requests may cause some discomfort if agreed upon, but it can help you stand out from other applicants and open a door to discuss future opportunities.
Be respectful when requesting feedback, and more importantly, be open to it. More often than not, any feedback is useful feedback for job seekers to utilize moving forward throughout a future interview process.
Even if you fully believe you did everything perfectly in the process, we all have room to grow. And besides — if it really was an internal reason and you did have a stellar interview and application, you'll feel better knowing it wasn't your fault.
Ask for feedback about your application materials
When asking for feedback after receiving a job rejection email, ask if they could provide any specific feedback about your application materials, such as your resume or cover letter.
It's also helpful to be specific about what you'd like feedback on. This can help the employer provide more targeted feedback that will be more helpful for you in the long run.
Here are a few examples of specific questions you can ask about your application materials:
- Were there any specific areas of my resume/cover letter that could be improved?
- Did my qualifications and experience listed in my application documents match the requirements for the role?
- Was there anything missing from my application that you were looking for?
- Did you have any concerns about my experience or qualifications that I could address for future opportunities?
- Can you provide any feedback on how I can better highlight my skills and experience in future applications?
Finally, make sure to thank the employer again for their time and consideration, regardless of whether or not they are able to provide feedback.
Ask for feedback about your interview performance
When requesting feedback about your interview performance after receiving a job rejection email, politely ask if the interviewer would be willing to provide interview feedback, such as what you did well and where you could improve.
To make it easier for the interviewer to provide targeted feedback, consider asking some specific questions. Here are a few examples:
- Can you provide any feedback on how I presented myself during the interview?
- Were there any areas where I seemed less confident or prepared?
- Were there any specific questions or topics where I could have provided more detailed or thoughtful answers?
- Can you provide any feedback on my body language or nonverbal cues during the interview?
- Were there any particular skills or qualifications you were looking for that I may have not highlighted during the interview?
- Can you provide any feedback on how I can improve my overall interview performance for future opportunities?
Within Teal's Job Application Tracker are tips and resources to help you practice interviewing.
Ask for advice for the future
Receiving a job rejection email can be a discouraging experience, but it's important to take it as a learning opportunity for the future. When asking for advice for the future, you can ask for any advice or guidance the employer may have for you as you continue your job search. Here are some examples:
- Are there any areas in which you would recommend I improve my skills or experience?
- Based on your experience with candidates for this role, are there any common strengths or weaknesses that successful candidates tend to exhibit?
- What advice do you have for me as I continue my job search or apply for similar roles in the future?
- Are there any professional development opportunities you would recommend that could help me become a stronger candidate for similar roles in the future?
- Is there anyone in your professional network you would recommend I connect with for advice or potential job opportunities?
- Are there any specific job opportunities or industries that you think would be a good/better fit for me?
Keep the conversation focused on constructive feedback that can help you improve and grow as a job seeker.
Example job rejection email responses
Example if you didn't make it to the interview process
Thank you for taking the time to consider my application for the [Position] role. While I'm disappointed to hear that I did not make it to the interview process, I appreciate your time and consideration throughout the process.
I remain interested in [Company] and its mission, and I would like to inquire if there are any other positions available that I might be a better fit for.
If not, I would appreciate if you have any feedback on my application. I am always looking to improve and would appreciate any insights you may have.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Example if you made it to the first round of interviews
Thank you for letting me know about your decision. I appreciate the opportunity to have interviewed for the [Position] role and for your time and consideration throughout the process.
I would like to inquire if you have any feedback on my interview. I am always looking to improve and would appreciate any insights you may have.
Although I am disappointed that I was not selected for the next stage, I remain interested in [Company] and its mission. If there are any other opportunities that might be a good fit for my skills and experience, please keep me in mind.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Example if you made it to the final round of interviews
Thank you for letting me know about your decision. I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to interview for the [Position] role. While I am disappointed to learn that I was not selected, I appreciate the time and consideration you extended to me throughout the hiring process.
I am reaching out to inquire if you have any feedback regarding my final interview and overall interview performance throughout the hiring process. As someone who is always looking to improve, any constructive insights you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Although I was not chosen for the position, I am still interested in [Company] and its mission. If there are any other relevant opportunities that may suit my skills and experience, I would be honored if you would consider me.
Thank you again for the opportunity and for your consideration.
How to track your job application experience with guidance and support
Although a rejection is never a good feeling, it's always better when you feel prepared. Knowing how to respond to a job rejection email will help you process the rejection and, hopefully, turn it into something actionable and positive to further your job search.
Go back to the drawing board feeling invigorated — and use Teal's Job Application Tracker to keep your job search more organized than ever.
Teal's Job Application Tracker provides job seekers with an effective tool to track their job application process from start to finish. By using this tool, job seekers can stay organized, track their progress, and receive guidance and support throughout their job search, maximizing their chances of success and finding the perfect job for their skills and experience.
Don't feel paralyzed by a rejection! There are so many companies and opportunities out there, and the right one is waiting for you.