Are Employers Required to Notify Applicants Who Are Not Hired?

Notifying Demonstrates Respect, Accountability, and Responsibility

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No legal requirement exists for the majority of employers that compels them to correspond with job candidates at any point during the hiring process.

Exceptions may exist to this general rule when an employer is a governmental agency, covered by civil service requirements, or if the employees have a collective bargaining agreement that outlines the process for promotions or transfers.

But, generally speaking, the choices an employer makes about communicating with their job candidates are up to the employer and the goals they have established for their recruitment process. The choices an employer makes reflect their desire to be viewed as a respected employer of choice–or not.

Reasons Why an Employer Might Want to Notify Applicants Who Were Not Hired

But, reasons abound for why an employer might want to stay in touch with applicants at key points in the recruitment process. They reflect on the nature of the entire relationship with an organization's job candidates.

The reasons for ongoing response and contact include:

1. As competition for employees increases, especially for particular skills, education, and experience, how an employer treats their job candidates will matter more and more. These applicants have choices and noting how an employer makes them feel during the hiring process will affect their opinions of the employer and their choices. With current record unemployment levels, the war for talent is underway.

2. Applicants are monitoring employers on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. They are reading employee and applicant comments about employers and companies on sites such as The applicant experience matters—and it will matter more and more as information is so easily exchanged online. Want to know all about the perceptions of a particular employer? They're just a click away. You want your reputation positive, approachable—that of an employer who employees seek out.

An employer of choice treats all applicants with respect and consideration. This means that they communicate at each step in the hiring process. The employer sends:

  • An acknowledgment when the application is received.
  • A rejection letter when their application does not qualify them for an interview.
  • A rejection letter when they were not among the most qualified candidates following the first interview.
  • A rejection phone call and a rejection letter following their participation in a second interview—or a job offer.

The employer’s positive reputation attracts the best candidates. Job searchers seek out employers whose recruitment process mirrors their positive environment for employees. The employer’s reputation is built over time by the experiences of current, past, and potential employees.

3. Job searchers deserve respectful, humane, ethical treatment. They are hopeful individuals who have lives, skills, families, and dreams. Whether their skills and experience match your needs for your job, the increasing coldness and distance with which job searchers are treated are unkind and inhumane. Employers can do much better. As an employer of choice, you must do much better.

Yes, you are inundated with job applications. Unemployment is often high. Depending on the type of job, you may have many, many qualified applicants. But, that job searcher you ignored may have spent an hour or more filling out your job application. He or she spent hours looking for an opening for which they hoped they qualified. They deserve your respect and consideration.

4. Special circumstances also exist with regard to your internal candidates. If you want to retain the employee, you need to grant an interview to an internal candidate. The fact that the employee applied for the job means that the employee is ready to leave their current job. Pay heed to the employee's desires and pay attention to their obvious desire to continue to develop their career.

As the employer, you need to talk to the employee about his or her career with your company. If possible, you need to find an opportunity for the individual or you may lose the employee to another employer.

The Bottom Line

Common courtesy should govern your hiring practices and this includes effective, ongoing communication with your job candidates. An applicant is another customer of your organization. Treat them as you would your very best customers. Respectful treatment pays dividends to you as an employer of choice.

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Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.