The "Thank-You for Not Hiring Me Letter" Can Land You a Job

By Patrick Tormey
Professor of Marketing Management-Fashion
Berkley College
White Plains, New York

In today's fast-paced job market, the importance of the "thank you" letter is highly emphasized because the extra effort demonstrated influences hiring decisions favorably. Yet, one of the often forgotten, but critically important, job search letters is the one written when you don't get the job. "What?" you say, "Writing to thank the employer for not hiring you-sounds crazy." Not when you understand the reasons-in fact this letter may actually be the one that lands you the job you want!

To see why this is so, consider the following job search scenario:

You have had three interviews at MBI Corporation, a large employer in your community, and you believe you are being seriously considered for this job. After your last interview, the human resources liaison told you to call on the following morning to find out about their hiring decision. You are feeling excited and a bit apprehensive because this is a Fortune 500 company offering competitive salaries and an extensive, balanced benefit program.

When you call, you are informed that the position was offered to another candidate, someone with a small edge on your experience and job knowledge.

What should you do? Feel anger? Frustration? Sadness? Defeat? No, you should immediately turn to your word processor and send a "thank you" letter to everyone at the company who was involved your interview process.

Just as in a horse race, the winner may have been better by only the length of a nose. But that doesn't make the final applicants who are not hired losers, they are merely "second best" and may actually have a chance to re-enter the race.

Second Place May Become First Choice

Employment circumstances are constantly changing, creating new openings where none existed earlier. The person that edged you out of the position may end up doing any of the following:

1. Change his or her mind and decide to take a different job, even after accepting the position at MBI.

2. Be considered unfit for the position once his or her job performance is observed.

3. Be disqualified after reference letters or school/license credentials arrive that don't match up with what was presented on the resume.

4. Decide that this job is not really what they expected and resign within the first week or two on the job.

5. Not fit in with the company "culture" (interaction with coworkers or supervisors) and be encouraged to resign or actually be pushed out.

6. Hear from another job-suitor a week or two later that offers an attractive alternative and quickly move on even after accepting the position at MBI.

7. Be quickly assigned to another position at MBI that appears more appropriate after working only a few days in the original position.

Employers Need to Fill Positions Vacated

Many of the situations described above do occur, recreating the original job opening-and who do employers turn to next to fill that position? Often it's the applicants who were nosed out in the last hiring-that means you arenext in line! The employer already knows you are qualified-after all you sailed through three interviews and have the required abilities.

When a position reopens, employers do not want to go through the entire applicant search again-it is too costly in terms of both time and money. Therefore, to fill a quickly vacated position, the employer may do one the following:

  • Call you right away to fill the position vacancy

  • Offer you a similar position in an adjacent area or department

  • Consider you for another position opening

Anything is possible!

Edge Out Your Competition With Your Letter

The key point to remember is that your well-crafted "thank you (for not hiring me) letter" will be arriving on all of the respective desks of your interviewers at this pivotal time.

The only cost to you is a few postage stamps and one or two hours at your word processor-a small price to pay for the possibility of a BIG return. Routinely send this letter any time you don't get your targeted job. Click here for a sample "thank you for not hiring me" letter.

This well-crafted and timely "thank you" note will serve as a classy reminder that you are a professional applicant. It will also demonstrate an attitude of "no hard feelings," and of "I'm still interested."

You could be very pleasantly surprised, when within a week or so, the phone rings and the HR director at MBI says, "I'd like to see you right away; the position reopened and I think that it is yours."

Solution: Start writing.

Sample "Thank-You (for not hiring me)" Letter

Your street address
Your city, state, and ZIP Code

Recipient's name
Recipient's title
Street Address
City, State, ZIP Code

Dear Mr. or Ms. __________:

Thank you for the opportunity of interviewing on March 14, 20--, and for considering me as one of the finalists for the ________________ position.

I understand the position was awarded to another candidate, and although I am disappointed that I was not selected, I appreciate the fairness and diligence of your recruitment process.

If, however, this position should again become available or a similar opening should exist, I would be most interested in having the opportunity of being seriously considered for the job.

I also appreciate the thoughtfulness and courtesy you showed me during the interview process.


(Your signature here)