To reject or to ignore?


I think we are all faced with this issue: we got an application from someone and we don't want to accept it. The most typical case is for employment. In my project I get many more types and very frequent applications.

I think we can do one of two things: reject it or ignore it.

I've been ignoring applications I'm not interested in but I really don't like doing that; because when I apply I hate being ignored. It's easy to do, but maybe not right. I've decided to craft some rejection letters, make the decisions as fast as possible and let the applicant now. I think that's the good thing to do.

I remember being phone screened twice by a company in London, being flown there for a whole days of interviews, and after that being totally ignored. It sucks.

In the third or fourth rejection I've got someone vilifying us on Twitter for rejecting them. These are not life-changing employment opportunities or anything like that, most people forget they applied after a couple of days and by rejecting them what I end up doing is reminding them of the application, reminding them that they didn't got in and giving them an excuse to vent.

So, what do you normally do? reject? ignore? why? any advice?

UPDATE : Just to give a little more context; we are publicly open and advertising we want people applying for this, and the applications I receive are almost like auditions, so they are not generic emails. I really feel bad about not responding.

This is mostly an opinion poll, so I'm not going to pick up an answer; but my conclusion is, I'll continue doing the right thing, letting people know unless the backslash from doing that escalates into something nasty.


asked May 19 '10 at 04:50
J. Pablo Fernández
412 points

3 Answers


A simple one-line rejection letter is sufficient. You try to do the right thing in not just ignoring another human being, but of course you can't hand-craft apologetic letters for unsolicited email.


Thanks for sending your resume, but at this time we do not have an open position. Good luck!

Or, if you do have open positions, just not for this person:

Thanks for sending your resume, but we feel you are not a match for the positions we have available. Good luck!

answered May 19 '10 at 23:39
16,231 points


If the application is completely unsolicited, then I would just ignore it. I don't think there's a real expectation for a response at that point.

But if you do go further, either phone screening or otherwise, then it would be courteous to respond one way or the other. At that point, where you've indicated some level of interest, it's only polite that you tell the prospect that you're not interested. But if this is really early in the process, then using a standard letter is absolutely acceptable, just be sure to include the candidate's name in the letter.

answered May 19 '10 at 05:50
4,692 points


I agree with Elie in that you don't need to respond to every unsolicited resume that lands on your desk. This is doubly true if the application looks like an generic e-mail blast.

However, if someone spent time putting together the application specifically for your company or if it's someone you had an interaction with, I think providing closure is the right thing to do. A diplomatic form letter is perfectly fine -- you want to avoid making it too specific or personal. Running the verbiage past legal is not a bad thing either.

Regarding others vilifying your company in public, you need to thicken your skin a bit. As your business grows people will talk about you and you can't control what they say. After all, that Twitter person could have ranted with equal intensity about not hearing back from you.

answered May 19 '10 at 12:34
Oleg Barshay
2,091 points

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