Remember, applicants, contractors and anyone bidding or applying for jobs or providing estimates, are STILL HUMAN BEINGS. As people, they have feelings. Too many rejections are rather insensitive, to say the least.

There is a HUMANE way to reject an applicant or a contractor.

Recognize that those people are trying to earn a living. Your offer enticed them into contacting you. Your offer began a communication process that you must bring to a gracious, respectful, satisfying end. How do you do that? Here are some tips, followed by an example of a “polite rejection note” back to several contractors who recently provided estimates for a small renovation project.

A solid, respectful rejection letter ought to get right to the point to answer a number of questions that the applicant/contractor will want to know: Did I get the job? Was my estimate or presentation suitable? Why did you select someone else? Do they have a shot at another opportunity with you or your company in the future? include the following:

  1. Quickly make your point. The recipient will want to know, “Did I get the job/contract or not?” Answer that question up front and as early as possible.
  2. Say something respectful to acknowledge that you recognize that they had to commit their resources to be able to respond to YOUR request.
  3. Small business owners, and job applicants, want to know if what they had to say or offer was on target or way off the mark. Be somewhat helpful, here, without being critical. If on-target, then tell the applicant/contractor about something that they said or did that struck the target. If they pissed you off, or missed the target completely, then say so, but in a polite, respectful manner. Don’t say something like, “You could’ve done a better job at…” Instead, say, that same thing in a respectful manner. Possibly, “Information pertaining to [such and such] did not meet our needs”.
  4. Now comes the answer to the question the applicant or bidder wants to hear most. They want and need to know WHY you selected someone else.
  5. Leave them on an up-note, if you can and if you have honest reason to say so. If you have an upcoming job/project, say so, if you plan to seek quotes or invite applicants once again, and if that he/she will be suited to trying for the position once again. But don’t exaggerate or make promises that you can’t keep. If you have no future opportunities, then say nothing and make no empty promises.
  6. If you were satisfied with the applicant/contractor and you’d tell others about that person/company, then tell them that you thought they were good enough to make it onto your list of referrals for friends, relatives, or colleagues.

Here’s one such example of a recent rejection note to a qualified contractor for a basement renovation:

[Name of person], thanks for your prompt response and your estimate. I am sorry to advise that we must decline your offer.

“We do appreciate the amount of time and effort it takes to provide such an estimate and are grateful for your prompt and thorough response. We also appreciate your professionalism and pleasant personality. During or discussion, we felt that you were listening to our needs and that was also clearly reflected in your proposal through your attention to detail. As potential customers, meeting with you, and your proposal, met our expectations.

The reason we have decided to work with an alternate contractor is based on the ideas and design provided by that contractor, though prices were comparable.

Once again let me express our appreciation. We do have another job we are considering for sometime in the next year or two. Because of the pleasant experience you have provided, we will retain your contact details and will contact you to determine if you are interested, at that time, in providing some ideas and a possible proposal.

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to discuss our needs with you. We are grateful and wish you the best of success in your business. And, YES. If friends and relatives ask for names of contractors, we will enthusiastically provide yours.