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Thanks, But No Thanks

CV cheats

After having sifted through numerous applications, CV's and covering letters, then narrowed down your search, conducted interviews, and given the matter a great deal of thought, by now, you should be in a position to make an offer to your preferred candidate.

But what about those unfortunate applicants who got so close, only to fall at the final hurdle?

Daniel Hyland, Senior Engineering Consultant at Carlton Resource Solutions advises that how you respond to unsuccessful applicants is equally as important as how you respond to the successful ones.

He says: "If someone has taken the time to apply, then they deserve a response. Put yourself in their shoes.

"Taking the time to contact them provides closure on the issue, and shows that you respect their efforts.

"Although you may think such an issue seems fairly trivial, don't underestimate how it can effect the reputation of your company.

"Goodwill and a positive image take years to cultivate, but can be lost in an instant."

Daniel suggests you consider failed aspirants in two categories - those who were rejected in the initial stages, and those whose submissions received much more consideration.

Responses should be provided, regardless of whether you are recruiting directly, or through an agency.

"A simple letter is a sufficient response to those who have sent in applications which have been rejected without being invited to interview", says Daniel.

"It should be polite and let them down softly. End on a positive note as well, wishing them all the best in future. Make sure this is sent promptly - there is no point sending out a reply three months later!"

For those that made it to the final stages however, it is probably pertinent to add a little more detail to the letter to reflect the extra effort they have put in.

Again, start on an upbeat note by acknowledging some of their relevant strong points, before briefly explaining your decision to turn them down in some more depth.

Try to avoid being too ambiguous here, but also don't go into any specifics. These pointers will give them more insight into the decision.

"There's nothing worse when you think you aced an interview only to receive a letter rejecting you outright, without any explanation," he adds.

"A company that takes the time to shed some light on their reasoning will be looked upon much more favourably.

"Letters, even for those that didn't make it past the screening stage, should be as personalised as possible.

"Try to avoid sending out generic rejection letters. Even just addressing it to them directly, instead of 'Dear applicant' can make the world of difference."

Daniel continues: "When you consider how long the hiring process lasts, don't skimp on the extra few minutes it takes to do this.

"Recognise the work they have undertaken to apply - filling out forms, writing letters, attending interviews.

"If nothing else, they deserve some return on this investment of their time!"

"If you find you are asked for further feedback, then try to provide this if at all possible.

"However, be careful what information you release, much of it will be confidential, as you have to consider the part your employees may have played.

"Remember, each situation is different, so if in doubt, contact an expert."

As well as sending responses and providing feedback, there are other factors to consider when rejecting candidates, advises Daniel.

For example, if there have been any delays in the recruitment process, it's probably best that you let potential contenders know about this as soon as possible.

"Don't leave them hanging on, or wondering what's happening.

"Keep them informed and updated - they will appreciate the contact, and you never know it may save you from having to re-advertise the post later."

Additionally, if it was a difficult decision to select one person make sure that you do not start turning the other hopefuls down until your first choice has confirmed their acceptance of the role.

As Daniel notes: "You don't want to be left in the situation where your preferred candidate has committed to a role elsewhere, and you have already turned down another applicant who you feel would still suit the role.

"If you have already turned them down, it's unlikely they are going to accept any subsequent offer and be 'second best'."

There may also be times when a letter may not be the most appropriate action. For instance, what if one of those turned down was already an employee?

Perhaps consider a debrief interview suggests Daniel, as this can be an opportunity to ensure the employee still feels valued in their current role.

Explain the reasons behind the decision as best you can, but without being too negative.

If they were lacking in certain skill sets, you may want to offer assistance, to the employee to brush up in these areas.

"This could take the form of sponsoring them in further education, training schemes or providing mentoring", says Daniel.

"Not only will they be more likely to feel appreciated, you will be tailoring their talent to match your requirements for future roles!"

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