I think most people would agree that companies who hire sales people expect them to be respectful, responsive, and communicative with their customers. Unfortunately, the majority of these companies don’t practice what they preach when they are doing their sales hiring. In fact, many job applicants are often left in a puddle of confusion after the application process, and often never really know if their application was even considered.

It’s basically a matter of manners. To stay successful, a company needs to maintain a positive image, not only with the public and its employees, but with those who may or may not end up working for the company someday. When candidates apply indirectly online, through the mail, or otherwise, it’s important to acknowledge receipt of the application. Otherwise, the applicants find themselves in an agony of indecision: should they assume that the application has been rejected, or reapply and risk being thought of as a pest?

When you hire sales people,  it may take a little time and effort to send applicants an acknowledgement, but it’s a courtesy to the applicant to let him know that he is or is not being included in the hiring process. Considering the positive perception it will create for your company, and the relative enormity of the rest of the sales hiring process, it’s a small price to pay.

Another small courtesy that could have a big impact on your company’s image is a respectful rejection letter sent to candidates who don’t make the cut at different levels of the hiring process. Timely notes to candidates who have been eliminated will allow them to know where they stand so that they can focus their attention on other opportunities. It will also save you the time and trouble of answering emails and phone calls checking their application status.

Your rejection letters should be sent to every candidate who is eliminated from the hiring process, no matter what stage of the process this occurs. The AHS sales hiring materials include a form letter that you can use when initial applications and résumés are declined, but you can also choose to write a note that’s a little more personal. In fact, the further through the process the candidate has progressed, the more personal you can make the rejection letter.

Two things your rejection letter should do:  show appreciation to the applicant for taking the time to apply to your company, and state the reason for the rejection in a diplomatic way. (Skills don’t match the job requirements, pre assessment tests don’t indicate a match, position has been filled, etc.) You can also indicate what the company might do with the applicant’s information (i.e. forward it to another department, hold on to it for a specific amount of time, in case of future opportunities, etc.), or offer some advice on how to proceed.

Your note should end by wishing your candidate the best, and it should be personally signed. With a considerate, respectful rejection letter, you not only provide closure for the applicant, you also leave the door open for some positive PR.