I am recruiting developers for my team, and there is this nice candidate that I cannot make an offer to now, because I have proceeded with another candidate.

However, in the future, we may have more open positions, and I would like to contact him, and I hope I have given a good impression, and maybe they can accept the offer, let's say 6 months from now.

What is the best way to reject this candidate and keep the doors open?

  • as JeffO pointed out, if you are confident you will need him in the future, why not create a new position for him now? If he is good, he won't be sitting idle for long... Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 16:08

4 Answers 4


Tell him what you just told us: that the only reason you did not go further with him on this particular opening was unfortunately, a matter of poor timing - somebody else was almost finished with the process. Tell him that you're regularly receiving news of job openings and that you'll be glad to contact him the minute you see a fit.


This is a tough one because the standard line of "we liked you but we decided to go with someone else" is now code for "we just went with someone else". I guess the only thing I can really say to that is to personalize the rejection as much as possible. If you can maybe speak specifically to positions that may open in the future, perhaps you could do that? "Hi, we decided to go with another candidate for Job X but we think we're going to have a position opening up for Job Y in a couple of months and I think you'd be a really excellent candidate for that", that kind of thing. Or compliment a particular aspect of what the potential employee brought to the table: "Even though we have decided to go another direction, I was really impressed by your knowledge of Thing A and I'd like to keep you in mind for future openings if that sounds good to you."

Whatever you can do to get out of the cliche, the better.


You can let the candidate know that you want them to consider you for future employment, but what do you expect them to do for the next 6 months? They're not going to hold off on taking another job. They may consider doing a limited contract term.

If you are sincere and confident you want them in six months, I think you should offer them something.

  • Hiring bonus. IF you don't offer them a job in a certain amount of time, they get to keep it.Obviously if they reject the offer, they must refund the bonus.
  • Referral for contract work. Indicate their qualifications and how unfortunate it was you could not hire them.
  • Pay for Training If you felt the candidate lacked experience in a certain area, offer to send then to training.

Finding top talent is difficult, so I think more companies must go out of their way to attract, hire and retain them. Even if you don't keep this candidate, you're developing a reputation as a company that sincerely cares about employees. You never know, this candidate may know someone else to fill your position.Don't be penny-wise and pound foolish.


I would give him a personal note attached to the standard "Unfortunately, the position has been filled..." In the note, in my own hand, I tell him by name that I was impressed and wish him well on his search for employment. (I want him to keep looking for a job, not wait for something that may never materialize...) Finally I'd let him know that if another position opens up he will be contacted. Signed informally.

If you want to make an impact you have to make it personal. Hand written note, along with the impersonal standard note will do, the contrast alone makes it impactful. Whatever you do, don't write something in a passive voice by computer, that is likely going to be interpreted as a type cast rejection letter and possibly not even read.

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