How to withdraw from a job application and not burn a bridge

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Not every interview process needs to be completed. When actively looking or even scoping out the market, at first it might seem ludicrous that you would voluntarily withdraw from a process, but as time goes on and your interest in a specific opening dwindles, withdrawing might just be the best thing all parties to not waste further time.

As a firm believer in not wasting time, let me tell you honestly that if you want to withdraw at any stage from an application process, that is well within your rights to do so, but there is a right and wrong way of going about this step that will still keep your recruiter and hiring manager relationship intact.

Before we explore those, firstly let’s consider why you might want to withdraw from the process in the first place:

You have accepted a new role

It is very likely that if you are actively looking you have multiple opportunities on the go, and one of the main reasons people stop further processes is that they have accepted an offer best matching your needs.

The role is not the right match

The next common reason we see is that after learning more about the opportunity from the hiring manager or team, the role appears to not be the right match for you and your career long-term.

The hiring process is too long

For some, we know the hiring process being too long can be enough to withdraw from a process. The length of the process and time commitment (especially if there are multiple tech rounds and tests) could be the tipping point for you to halt any further screening.

You have simply changed your mind

And for no other reason than you changed your mind could you decide the role is not worth exploring further and you need to withdraw yourself.

How to withdraw your application the right way

Whatever your reason, crafting the right letter of withdrawal will maintain a positive impression on yourself should you wish you return to that recruiter or company in the future. Informing all parties of your decision is not only the most professional thing you can do at this moment, but it also saves everyone a lot of time and energy chasing, scheduling and generally still considering you for something you know you are not going to continue with.

When crafting your letter (or email), we suggest keeping it straightforward… explain your intent to withdraw, state your reasoning (especially if it is feedback the recruiter and company can learn from) and sign off with an expression of thanks for their time.

How can this look in practice?

Hello [recruiter]

Please pass my thanks along to the team at [company name] for meeting with me yesterday. After careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw my application as I do not believe that the growth trajectory on offer in this position will match where I see myself in the coming 12 months.

I appreciate you taking the time to run through the project with me as well, it was nice learning about them and maybe in the future our paths will cross once more.

I wish you a great day.

[name]

How to withdraw your application the wrong way

Like most things in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to do something and withdrawing from an application is no different. Over the years I have seen and heard some outrageous excuses, but I feel there are only two ways in which you can really withdraw the wrong way:

Ignoring the elephant in the room

It is rather obvious when someone is not interested in moving forward with an opening. Those that were previously highly engaged with responding to emails and taking calls suddenly become mute. Of course, benefit of the doubt steps in here but a prolonged lack of communication sends a message to both recruiter and company that you are not interested until they take a step forward to remove you from the process.

If you see your recruiter or the company trying to reach out, respond in a timely fashion.

Lying

Lying to your recruiter or the hiring manager about your interest and then not following through with the process is very damaging to yourself long-term. Honesty is a cornerstone of any great working relationship and if you lie so easily during the hiring process it sends a strong negative message to the company that might burn bridges for you long-term.

Be mindful of how you communicate with recruiters and companies during this step, it is inevitable you will need to withdraw from at least one process in your life and by keeping it professional everyone will maintain a positive impression of you and look to work with you again in the future.

Consider that nearly all companies use applicant tracking systems these days where all communication is stored, even if you re-apply in 2 years time, there is a good chance your history will follow you.

The vast majority will read this article and already know what to do, but I write this article to inform those that might not know it yet and to provide a simple template you can use no matter the reason for withdrawal. I hope this helps and collectively we can bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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Eden Whitcomb

Bringing simplicity to the chaos of recruitment, one educational post at a time.