Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Working Smarter: How Well Do You Say "No"?

When I was responsible for recruitment for a Federal Government agency, my goal was to ensure that even those people who never won a job, would feel positive about the agency and satisfied they had been treated fairly.

This included several key strategies, one of which was to write good "no" letters. No letters are those you receive telling you that your job application was not successful.

Business communication principles suggest that no letters written for any reason should follow the Kiss - Kick - Kiss again format. To that end, something positive should be said up front, the bad news delivered and something positive said at the end. For me this meant a letter that had the following:

  1. An opening sentence thanking applicants for applying for a specific job with details of the job
  2. A paragraph highlighting some of the positive aspects of applicants' experience and qualifications
  3. The no part ... they won't be getting an interview or the job
  4. Where they can go to further their job seeking activities or how they could improve their chances
Item four is an opportunity for a bit of PR for your organization. Normally I told applicants of the location of Federal Government job advertisements and recommended that they keep applying for any jobs for which they were adequately qualified or experienced. If an applicant was so poorly qualified that I wouldn't want to hire them in a fit, I would simply wish them well with their job search.

During my own job seeking activities I have received some terribly blunt no letters. Worse, many organizations don't even have the courtesy to respond.

If you are going to write business letters, take the time to learn something about business communication so you do it well and not like an amateur.


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