The Only Thing Worse Than Bad News Is No News At All

The only thing worse than bad news is no news at all.

Some may argue the opposite‚Äîno news is good news. But when it comes to hiring and the candidate experience, playing by the rules of the former adage is the way to go.

Candidates like feedback. Whether they get the interview/job or not, you have a certain amount of responsibility as a recruiter to make sure a candidate hears from you and gets some reasoning as to your decision. Everyone loves to be the recruiter that calls a candidate or emails them and says, ‚ÄúCongrats, you got it!‚Äù It‚Äôs much harder to be the recruiter that has to let a candidate down‚Äîbut no matter how hard the feedback might be to give, you still have to give it. If not, my past experiences have proven you can run into some awkward situations.

A common but difficult reason recruiters have to pass on candidates is because the candidate has awesome credentials, but it‚Äôs just not what the hiring manager is looking for or what the position calls for. This is particularly tricky because if you, the recruiter, really likes the candidate, you want to keep that rapport with them. If a position comes across your desk the next week that they‚Äôre perfect for, they won‚Äôt come back if they feel they‚Äôve been snubbed.

Many recruiters have a standard TBNT email they send after scanning a candidate‚Äôs resume and finding themselves in this tricky position. It probably looks something like this:

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for taking the time to apply to this position. While your resume is strong and you seem to have a great background, you’re just not the person we’re looking for at this time. I’d love to stay in touch with you if a position that does fit your abilities opens up.


A Boring Recruiter

There’s a couple problems here. First: it doesn’t sound sincere. It sounds canned and like you just ticked another box when you sent it. Second: saying “I’d love to stay in touch” is the business equivalent of “We can still be friends” after a bad breakup. Third: it’s short and unsweet. If you’re not going to have a personality come through, at least give the candidate more feedback than “You’re just not the person we’re looking for at this time.”

In the end, a TBNT email like this isn’t much better than simply never responding. You’re giving the candidate very little and only doing it to cover yourself in case you do want to open up conversation with them again.

That’s why we decided to do things differently.

Check our flavor of a TBNT note:

Hi Candidate,

Thanks for applying for the X spot we featured on the Kinetix careers site. We huddled as a recruiting team to talk about your background, and the verdict was unanimous: we love your background, but this isn’t the right spot for you. With that in mind, we’re moving forward with other candidates for this job.

Can we still be friends? We’d love to help you find the perfect gig in the future, so please check back with the Kinetix careers page every couple of weeks to see if there’s something that interests you. We’ll keep your resume on file and give you a call if something breaks in your area of expertise.

-The Kinetix Recruiting Team

We’re probably a little bit biased, but it’s a punchy email that has personality and shows we took the time to look at and discuss the candidate’s profile. Showing a candidate that you care can make all the difference in the world—but don’t take our word for it. Just today we received an email back from a candidate, saying the following:

Thanks for the update. We can always be friends and help each other. Matter of fact I will send you a LinkedIn invitation. Tell the group this is the best worded rejection note that I have ever seen well done.


The candidate feels good, we feel good, everybody feels good. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

The devil is in the details, and those extra brain power units spent on even the smallest things like a TBNT can make the biggest difference. Don‚Äôt just give candidates feedback‚Äîgive them feedback that matters and shows you care.

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