Rejection is an inherent part of the hiring process. Traditionally, companies took the lead in rejecting candidates that didn’t meet their hiring criteria (usually through an automated email with promises to keep a resume “on file”). More recently, skyrocketing demand for software engineers and other technical hires has shifted the hiring balance in favor of job seekers. Technical candidates are receiving more outreach than ever and ultimately rejecting companies at some point during the interview process.
At Underdog.io, our process is similarly candidate-centric. When we share job seekers with our exclusive network of technology companies, founders, hiring managers, and internal recruiters at each company reach out directly to candidates, who then pick and choose which companies align best with their interests and career goals.
And if a company isn’t a fit? Then it’s time to tell them no. Rejection emails are difficult to write and uncomfortable to send, but trust us, it’s always better to say something (even if it’s awkward) than nothing at all.
Here’s some advice on how to let companies down gently.
1. Be gracious.
It’s important to let a company know you’re flattered by their interest in you. They took the time to review your resume and background and liked you so much that they wanted to have a conversation to get to know you better. Show them your appreciation by letting them know how thankful you are that they reached out.
2. Tell them why.
It’s ok to say no! If a company isn’t aligned with what you’re looking for and you know this off the bat, it’s better to let them know immediately, rather than wasting both their time and yours by going through the process just to go through the process. Be open (within reason) about why you’re declining the interview. The company will appreciate your honest feedback.
3. Thank them again.
It doesn’t hurt to thank a company again for their consideration and wish them luck. Plus, it leaves the door open should your employment situation or interest in the company change in the future.
Three templates you can use:
 Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out. While the [name of role] position seems like a great opportunity, I’ve done some research and decided that it doesn’t align with my longer-term career goals. Thank you so much for your interest and I wish you the best of luck.
 Thank you for your email. After careful consideration, I have narrowed my search to companies in the [industry name] and will therefore have to respectfully decline your interview request at this time. If anything changes in the future, I will be sure to reach back out. Best of luck to you and your team!
 I really appreciate you reaching out. While I’m flattered by your interest in my background, I’m looking to work on a team of at least [X] employees, so this opportunity isn’t the right fit for me at this time. Thank you again for your interest and best of luck.
Rejection is never easy, but remember: it’s more important to say something (even if it’s disappointing) than nothing at all.
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