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I have recently applied for a job and I have received an email telling me that they had found someone already (so the problem was not my application, but the timing). Things like this happen, you have to expect it, but now I am wondering: how should I respond? I have written something but what is a no-no in this case? In other words, what can I say and what should I not say?

I'm obviously already excluding things like profanity or things like "it's your loss!", I am not talking about such things. In my case the answer is going to be absolutely positive and I have neither reason nor intention to express negative feelings.

For example, could I write that I might be available for similar positions in the same company or only for that specific one? If the second might be too restrictive (in general), the other one might make me look like "anything will do" which won't give a good impression.

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don't reply at all, any manager worth their salt will keep good candidates on record anyway. –  NimChimpsky Oct 23 '12 at 6:43
    
@NimChimpsky My reply wouldn't be me... sort of pleading like "please remember about me". I was just wondering a way to answer and genuinely thank for answering me so fast (they did in 3 minutes). They already said they would keep my record so I wasn't worried about that. :) –  Alenanno Oct 23 '12 at 8:23
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They do not want a reply, thats the point. (Said as someone hiring people at the moment) –  NimChimpsky Oct 23 '12 at 8:36
    
@NimChimpsky Ah thanks for the insight. :) –  Alenanno Oct 23 '12 at 8:40
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6 Answers 6

up vote 30 down vote accepted

As they rejected your application (no matter the reason), it will not be very productive to ask for another position within the company, but you still can keep the open door for future opportunities. You just have to formally allow them to contact you again in the future, and to state that you are interested in the company, not only in the specific position in the specific time. I would write something like this:

Dear ...,

Thank you for letting me know. Feel free to keep my resume and contact me in the future, in case your company is looking for the skills I have, and I'll keep an eye on your openings too. Let's keep in touch.

Kind regards,
name

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Lets keep in touch sounds commanding/intimidating. I believe Thank you for the opportunity sounds much better instead. –  Arpith Oct 22 '12 at 11:42
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@Arpith - Either version is fine. Its not an actual expectation of contact but rather in invite to remain in contact. I personally feel your version sounds like you have given up and no longer wish to be considered at all. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Oct 22 '12 at 12:58
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+1 and agree with @Chad . And note, assertiveness isn't bad. –  Mechaflash Oct 22 '12 at 13:35
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Somehow feels like something you would tell in a romantic setting. Not in a professional one. Guess its just a matter of context. There is no "right" answer here, is there? –  Arpith Oct 22 '12 at 16:23
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You might want to avoid literally saying "Lets keep in touch," because Lets in this case is a contraction of Let us, and should have an apostrophe. No need sending something like this with a grammatical error. –  Amy Blankenship Oct 23 '12 at 0:19

As someone who has done hiring (and started with a pile of over 500 resumes), hiring managers and HR do not want you to send them any emails after you have been turned down for a position. This kind of email is basically wasting their time and shows you in a negative light. This type of thing is more likely to get you put on a list of annoying people we never want to hire than it is to help you in the future.

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Consider the point of your email. Is it just being polite? It would be even more polite not to waste their time with an unnecessary email. Is it to "try one more time" to get in? They just spent time and money considering you, and rejected you; now's not the time, try again later. Is it to make a new contact? You probably should have done that during the discussion phase (between interview and their response); now's not the time. –  eykanal Oct 22 '12 at 20:32
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A hiring manager that is offended by a letter saying thanks, keep me in mind for another position is probably some one I do not want to work with/for. I could see being bothered by many emails from the same person but a short and polite email seems unlikely. I don't think there is much risk in responding with such an email, worst case you offend a hiring manager that wasn't interested to begin with. Best case you get a call back in a month or two from a company that feels like you would likely be a good fit for the position. –  stoj Oct 23 '12 at 3:43
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It occurs to me that getting put on some company's "annoying people" list for something so innocuous would be beneficial for me as a candidate. It ensures that my valuable time isn't wasted by some hiring manager who couldn't spend three seconds to delete a "k thx bye" email and now thinks he's got a position where I'd benefit his company, which I probably don't want to work for anyway. Based on that, I think I'll continue the practice. –  Blrfl Oct 23 '12 at 15:42
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@HLGEM: I've done screening, interviewing and made hire/no-hire decisions, but I make my living in engineering. The engineer in me says that a HR department recruiting on a scale where wrap-up emails from candidates jam up the works that badly hasn't armed itself with the tools or personnel to handle the workload. I've been sent out to do recruiting at job fairs and wouldn't just abruptly turn my back on an unsuitable candidate. I'd look at one who didn't at least say "okay, thanks for your time" after being rejected as rude. The same goes on the phone; email should be no different. –  Blrfl Oct 23 '12 at 18:03
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@HLGEM, do you see a difference between rejection after resume screen (hundreds of those) and rejection after interview (probably only a few)? When I've been in the hiring-manager seat I've never looked negatively at the latter; if this person was worth several hours of conversation, a few seconds to close the loop is no big deal. –  Monica Cellio Nov 14 '12 at 16:25

I'm not sure that replying at all would be constructive unless you are trying to elicit more information about why you were rejected (missing skills, too expensive, etc.).

A lot of companies will have a policy on whether they consider failed candidates for future roles and usually stick to these quite rigidly.

Also for a large company the HR department will be busy and probably won't really read your e-mail.

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The answer was quite fast (it took 3 minutes), so while usually I agree with you, I think that in this case there is no problem of being a too large company for paying attention to that. My thought is that "you're never too polite" and I also wanted to show my appreciation for the really fast response. –  Alenanno Oct 22 '12 at 10:19
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@Alenanno but being polite might mean do not bother the person - having to read an irrelevant email could be seen as an imposition on the readers time. Similarly to this sites request not to use signatures and thanks as they –  Mark Oct 22 '12 at 12:17
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@Mark As they...? I think you missed the end of the sentence there. :) Anyway, I don't think that 1 or 2-line emails are really a bother, especially if your showing appreciation. We're talking about seconds, really. –  Alenanno Oct 22 '12 at 12:58
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@Alenanno = when I recruited for my department I often had 20+ CVs to read and I was junior line management, think what HR would get –  Mark Oct 22 '12 at 13:01

Not so fast, Booba! If HR rejected you, then that means nothing. HR is basically a speedbump. (Also note that the reason they told you they aren't hiring you isn't always the reason. I've been fed the same line and noticed the position was still posted on the company's website weeks later.)

What you can do is what Nick Corcodilos ("Ask the Headhunter") suggests: find the hiring manager and contact him or her directly:

Be brief. Have something compelling to offer in terms of your abilities. But don't just ask for an interview or suggest that you should be interviewed. Prove that you are worth meeting. How? That's up to you, my friend. If you can't figure it out, you should not make the call. Your presentation must be compelling, because I don't believe in wasting any manager's time. If you're not compelling, then our buddies in HR were right to reject you.

Read the whole thing.

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I think this is bad advice. If they were considering you for future positions and you go over the head of HR and start kicking up a fuss. It is probable they will change their view and won't consider you in the future. –  NimChimpsky Oct 23 '12 at 8:42
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@NimChimpsky shrug In my experience HR-as-recruiter is a useless waste of space. I've always landed jobs through word-of-mouth and never through HR. When I've gone over their head and the manager wants to hire me, it has never been a problem. "If they were considering you for future positions" I couldn't care less. There are lots of companies hiring out there and if one HR drone gets his panties in a twist because I did what it took to get hired, then I'll be just as happy working somewhere else. –  BryanH Oct 24 '12 at 19:15

The only instance I see as worthy of responding to a rejection email is if you have a prior relationship with the company representative outside of the interviewing process.

I have to disagree with the selected answer's example email as it comes off aggressive, and forcing the relationship to continue when the company has already made a decision against hiring you. As said already, if they see a potential with you, they'll hold onto your resume. You can usually re-apply to the same position at a later date in the future, usually 6 months or a year.

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For anyone who stumbles across this post in the future as I have.

Coming from a recruitment background it has been my experience that any candidate or agency who attempts to bypass recruitment and go straight to the hiring manager will be looked upon in a negative light (with many agencies being basically being put on a do not use list for continuously doing this).

Hiring Managers often bring recruiters candidates who they would like to hire because they're a friend of a friend or an old work colleague and unfortunately it is rare that these people are the right fit for the role or company. Due to this, recruiters are often very sceptical of any candidate who has not bothered to come through the correct channels.

You may have been rejected in the earlier stages of the recruitment process by HR / Recruitment because the role requires a specific amount of experience in years etc. Perhaps there have been other candidates who have the skills and experience to match yours but can also offer other skills or expertise that would complement the role and the team.

Or perhaps in the case of BryanH you may have spoken to the company in a similar style to his second response and come off as rude, condescending and even slightly up yourself. It’s never nice to refer to someone as a ‘drone’ simply because you were not hired or had a bad experience. HR people work very hard to get the right person for the right role and that job is often made a lot harder because of people with that kind of attitude. Most hiring managers do not appreciated being contacted directly by candidates (especially those who have already been rejected) as they tend not to go away once they get a name and a number.

If you receive what is likely to be an automatic reply (as it sounds like OPs response was) then there is no reason to email back unless you would like more information or feedback regarding why you weren’t successful (but keep in mind the reply may come from an unmonitored system). If you have already been through part of the recruitment process such as interviews and receive a phone call or a direct email from the recruiter then once again it is fine to query what could have been done to improve your application or interview techniques and perhaps even thank the recruiter for their time (as OP was looking to do).

It is not always looked upon as spam and honestly when you get a lot of angry and bitter rejected candidates (who proceed to call the hiring managers or anyone in the company and keep pushing their applications or those who send back something like your loss) those who are actually polite, professional and respectful do tend to stay in a recruiters mind when other roles open up as those are the kind of employees companies are generally looking for, not someone who is going to insult staff members and fail to follow proper procedures (because if you are not willing to follow the process to get a role, then how do we know you would follow processes and procedures within the role?)

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