Are Employers Required to Notify Applicants Not Hired?

Notifying Candidates Demonstrates Respect 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.

There may be some exceptions to this 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, reasons abound for why an employer might want to stay in touch with applicants at key points in the recruitment process.

The reasons for response and contact include:

  • 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.

    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.
  • 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 acknowledgement 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.
  • 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 is unkind and inhumane.

    Yes, you are inundated with applications. Unemployment is high and climbing. But, that job searcher you ignored may have spent an hour or more on your application. He or she spent hours looking for an opening for which they hoped they qualified. They deserve your respect and consideration.
  • 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 the employee is ready to leave their current job.

    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.

Common courtesy should govern your hiring practices. An applicant is another customer of your organization. Treat them as you would your best customers.

Read More About Hiring:  Hiring Checklist


Susan Heathfield makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice both on this website, and linked to from this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality, and is not to be construed as legal advice.

The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace.

When in doubt, always seek legal counsel or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. The information on this site is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only.