Why that rejection letter is important


A rejection letter, as it may not sound, gives more benefits to a job seeker than regrets. A rejection letter acknowledges that a candidate has gone through an interview process. Though not successful, it gives them the hope that they stand competitively in the jobs market.

The case of a rejection letter was the recent subject at a forum in the Facebook group ‘Job Seekers Cafe’. As the much-heated debate ensued, disgruntled jobseekers faulted the jobs market for taking them for-granted.

They faulted the inability of many Kenyan employers and their human resource departments, and some recruitment firms for failing to send a rejection letters.

Why is it so difficult for organisations to send a rejection letter after they have picked their candidate, yet most applications are done online which makes it easier to revert?

“It is really rude that after taking a candidate through two or more interviews most companies do not have the common courtesy to write regret emails to the passed over candidates.

It is an epic failure in regards to the treatment of human resources. #HRNeedsToDoBetter” one Nyawira — a job seeker, lamented on Facebook. Nyawira explained of how she had applied for jobs in various organisations and how frustrating the waiting had

become for her. Had she been issued with a courtesy note, she says, she would have moved on without apprehension.


Another jobseeker explains how frustrating it was for him after undergoing three consecutive interviews only to call back after sometime and be told that ‘important people’ had already been recruited. “If I was that useless, they should have let me go out in the first interview,” he laments.

What the jobs market may not be aware is that, a simple rejection letter means so much to a job seeker as it brings closure. This closure helps to build the brand goodwill as it communicates that a company’s culture is of integrity and respect for others.

Arielle Sandor — the co-founder and chief executive officer at Duma Works, an online recruitment agency based in Nairobi explains that it is common business etiquette for a company to issue a rejection letter.

However, Arielle says that companies and recruiting agencies are not ignoring jobseekers deliberately. With the high rate of unemployment, the average number of candidates responding to any jobs vacancy has risen to about 300.

“If a company does not have the software to send auto-generated messages it can become quite difficult to respond to each candidate,” notes Arielle.

However, a human resource officer in Nairobi who wishes to remain anonymous states that at times she is personally unable to send rejection letters because sometimes the boss (mainly human resource director) chooses to keep a candidate’s documentation.

“I do know the essence and importance of feedback, but again, like many human resource officers in this country, my hands are tied.

However, I try to respond to mails that are sent to me with questions regarding an interview held,” so she says. This partly explains as to why this has become a widespread vice.


Rejection letters communicate a lot about a company or business. Companies with competent human resource systems and who take their processes seriously always send out rejection letters, Arielle says.

Ignoring a candidate after the company has found the “right match” is unprofessional. A company that ignores to acknowledge and thank jobseekers for their input in facilitating the recruitment process is very short-sighted.

It fails to acknowledge that interview candidates are future potential customers, brand ambassadors, business partners and so forth.

Several jobseekers cite instances where some companies go silent after the interview process, only for them to call back a month later asking if the jobseeker is willing to join them as the candidate they had picked turned out not to be the “right fit “.

This only works negatively on the image of such a companies. “Their dismissal after the interviews it’s already clear to me what kind of company they are,” expressed one job seeker.

Arielle explains that the issues being raised by jobseekers in Kenya is because they feel that they are not being appreciated in the market. “It is about giving HR a humane face and treating people the same way that you would want to be treated, “Arielle notes.

This way, the job seeker feels valued.

Steven, a job seeker responds to this when he notes that human resource practitioners should start taking candidates with some value. “I’m sure developed countries have gone passed this. I was once interviewed by a South African based company and was

happy and felt encouraged to have received their feedback even though I didn’t meet their threshold,” he says.

When a rejection letter is not issued, it makes a job seeker feel like a commodity, rather than a person, says Arielle. She notes that it is good especially for those candidates who have made it to two or three job interviews to get a lengthy regret note as it

makes them feel valued and appreciated for their time and efforts. It also, she emphasises, brings a closure so that they do not keep waiting.

“At Duma Works we are even trying to build within our system a way to give feedback on why it did not work out. This way they can work on their skills to prepare better for the market,” Arielle shares.

It suffices that human resource professionals should also learn some basic customer service skills. Arielle says that it is not just in HR, companies should make it deliberate for all employees to be taken through customer care skill drills.

“This way, companies would look at the broader spectrum and treat people including jobseekers as potential customers,” says Arielle.

With the advent of technology, organisations should come up with an automated email for rejection letters, if it is indeed time consuming to email manually.

With such feedback coming from the jobs market, it is time employers, human resource professionals and recruitment agencies started taking job seekers with seriousness. The Kenyan job seeker is well-educated and much more aware of the organisation that he or she is interested to work in.

“Job seekers mainly hold the organisation in high regard, because they know that it treats its people well. As such, they deserve to be treated with the same caution as a potential client,” Arielle explains.

This is more so, if they have gone through two or three interviews at least, a rejection letter should not be that hard, after all.

Arielle notes that with this in mind, the rejection letter should go beyond thanking them, to gauging more feedback from them on how the interview experience was.

This way, companies and recruitment agencies can get valuable feedback on how they can make their recruitment processes friendlier.


However much human resource practitioners try to explain that the trend of not sending rejection letters is not deliberate, some companies avoid it all together.

The high number of faceless online applications makes it impossible to open all the emails, leave alone respond to each personally.

Companies may also delay rejectinga candidate in case another candidate falls through. More employers too have the fear of being sued. With the high cost of living and rampant un-employment in Kenya, employment lawsuits are becoming common-place.

Therefore, most employers know too well that an applicant rejection letter could be very costly if written in a way that could spark legal action.

Human resource officers avoid from rejection letters because they have the potential to put them on the ‘firing line’. Sending a job rejection email with a name or number included may have unintended consequences.

According to a source from theHRSpecialist.com, mounting layoffs are creating a glut of qualified job hunters who are desperate for work. “As their frustrations grow, more applicants are reading deeper into their rejection letters— sometimes spotting job promises that were never intended.”

They thus keep human resource staff on the phone talking their way back into the job, or worse — questioning whether that was the best right hiring decision made.

After an interview is complete, a job-seeker should ask about the next step in the hiring process and timelines on when to expect to hear back. However, many candidates do not ask this, yet, it gives them the opportunity to follow up.

It takes a rare candidate to respond to rejection with positivity. But writing a gracious thank-you note will make a job seeker stand head and shoulders above other candidates. In case one of the “right fit” does not turn up for the job, this could transform you from a reject to a pearl.