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There are a lot of exceptional people who have faced more than their fair share of rejection. In recruiting, you’re the person that matches a client with the talent that they wouldn’t have recognized. And sometimes that talent comes from your rejection pool.

It’s smart business

Good relationships with rejected candidates protect your brand

According to a study, 72% of rejected job candidates shared their poor experiences online. The competition for skilled and innovative workers is stiff. The first step most people will take is to get a sense of your company on the Internet. You want the online conversation about your brand to be positive.

Rejected candidates can connect you to the talent in their networks

Rejected candidates talk to passive candidates. It’s not often when a person has good things to say when they’ve been rejected. This is a hidden opportunity for your brand. People talk and when they mention you, you want the conversation to be a five-star review.

Rejected candidates today can be hired candidates tomorrow

And they can save you time and money. Rejected candidates, with a little work (on their end or yours), can be the perfect person for a future client. Maintaining relationships are cost- and time-effective, saving you resources spent on marketing and recruiting.

Creating a process for rejection

Rejected candidates can have a lot of influence on a company’s bottom line. Virgin Media’s Rejected Candidate Survey found that they lost roughly $6 million when their rejected candidates moved to the competition. Establishing a positive process for candidates who are potentially customers and allies is key.

An established rejection process will help:

  • Reinforce your company’s values with staff
  • Set a standard of steps that will streamline workflow
  • Build awareness of candidate experience into company culture

Manage expectations from the beginning

Let candidates know when, and especially, if they’ll hear from you. Set a brief, but courteous auto-reply thanking them. Include timeline information or let them know you’ll be in touch with only the most qualified applicants.

Get feedback from hiring managers

Develop an easy way for hiring managers to provide feedback on the candidates you’ve sent their way. Applicant tracking systems have options for soliciting feedback. Or create a quick survey through SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. This data is helpful for you and, if they want it, for your candidates.

How to say, “No, thank you.”

Low-volume list

Ask candidates if they prefer to know their final status by phone, email, or text. Have boilerplate responses for all options, but personalize the response. Ask if they want feedback from their interview.

High-volume list

Sometimes it isn’t feasible to be in touch with every candidate. For these instances, it’s better to let them know immediately.

For example, Hootsuite dramatically changed how they rejected candidates, right down to the rejection letter. Like Hootsuite, you can update your form response that lets your candidates know you support them. Include a list of resources that help candidates in all stages of their job search.

Maintaining Contact

Classify your rejected candidates

Assess the present and future needs of your clients. Use this as a guide to organizing rejected clients with potential. Some nos are just short of a yes because they need just a bit more experience.

You can use these lists to help you maintain your relationship.

  • Casual check-ins
  • Invitations to apply to other positions
  • Industry news and other targeted communications

Connect through social media

Use LinkedIn to connect and visit rejected candidates profiles periodically to follow their career trajectory. If your company has a strong Facebook or Twitter identity, send them an invite.

Engage with relevant content

Maintaining contact through an e-newsletter is an easy way for a company to nurture a relationship with a high-value rejected candidate.

Targeted communications can include curated news, tips, event invites, and other industry-specific information.

What’s your way of making a no-candidate feel like a yes-candidate? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.