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In the world of recruitment, connections often fizzle after the job hunt. But why not keep the spark with ex-candidates?

Rejection needn't be the end; they might fit future openings or refer top talent. Staying connected and handling rejection with grace is a win-win, enhancing your employer brand.

Here are some tips to help you build and maintain positive connections with rejected candidates before, during, and after the break up:

Step 1. Break up respectfully

The rejection is actually a break-up point. Depending on the vibe of it there won’t be or be pretty high chances for reunion. There are 3 essentials in rejection: when, how, and what.


What not to do: Do not leave a candidate waiting. Sometimes you can't avoid this, so if a candidate makes their own follow-up inquiries, do not ignore them. Respond in the same way as a regular rejection call.

Do it in-time: Let candidates know as soon as possible if you are not continuing with their application. A timely response ensures that you part on good terms and a candidate will not become frustrated.


No worth trying: Not sending any kind of response. This is the worst. If you are sending a response, avoid sending a letter or email. An impersonal “Dear applicant” stock email is as bad as no email.

Good idea: A call is probably the best way of rejecting candidates. It is personal, and respectful and you and your candidate can part on good terms. A personal touch makes a candidate feel that you carefully considered their application and reflects the work you put into processing it.

In case you have to reject too many candidates and conducting a hundred personal calls is mission impossible, it’s convenient to have automated emails at hand. Just configure rejection letters via your Applicant Tracking System (ATS), and save your time for calling the most promising candidates.


Never: Avoid giving little detail to your applicants. Be very careful about how you formulate your response and don't allow room for ambiguity or misunderstanding. If a candidate even thinks that they have been discriminated against, the process has gone wrong somewhere.

Always: Give a candidate some kind of constructive feedback on their application. It can be pretty frustrating if you get a basic “no” and it can be difficult to understand what was good or bad about their application.


Step 2. Keep your exes close

Once break up with rejection is done it’s time to prepare for keeping relationships for the future. For the long-term run, it’s important to stay in touch with promising candidates who didn’t fit the particular vacancy or those who chose another company over yours. Here are some ways to do so:

Create a list of your ex-candidates

In a profesisonal language, it is a talent pool - the list of candidates that potentially can be processed for the vacancy once again.

The easiest way to keep candidates engaged is to implement management software - the Applicant Tracking System. A good ATS easily captures candidate information, qualifications, and experience in one central talent pool, allowing recruiting teams to access complete candidate records and communicate more efficiently through automated email and text campaigns.

Step 3. Write to them (occasionally)

Every candidate is unique and when it comes to personalization it is a powerful tool for keeping relationships with them.

Send occasional follow-up emails or messages to check in on their career progress. Congratulate them on any notable achievements, such as a promotion or a new certification. These personalized messages demonstrate that you genuinely care about their professional journey.

Additionally, consider reaching out to rejected candidates when new positions become available that align with their qualifications. Let them know that you remembered their previous application and thought of them when the new opportunity arose. This level of personalization can make a candidate feel valued and more inclined to reengage with your organization.


Thus, maintaining connections with ex-candidates isn't just a nice gesture; it's a smart strategy. By following the steps outlined here, you can keep the relationship warm and mutually beneficial.

Remember to strike the right balance in your communication, maintain your talent pools, and send occasional follow-ups to extraordinary candidates.

But don't forget to avoid overdoing it. Recognize when it's time to take a step back, rekindle relationships when necessary, and always maintain professionalism.

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