The Art of Rejection Swag

October 03, 2017

The Art of Rejection Swag

A successful HR department can spot an opportunity, but an exceptional HR department takes advantage of opportunities others never saw coming.

One of the most difficult and sometimes controversial elements of the hiring process is notifying a candidate that they aren't a good fit.

Everyone hates rejection!

But telling an applicant they aren't getting a job has never been viewed as an opportunity for your company...until now.

We have a way to turn the rejection process into an image builder for your company. We're going to help you

  • Improve your company visibility
  • Attract those stellar applicants you're looking for and
  • Keep you from earning negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor.

HR's Dismal Rejection Reputation

According to, most job candidates spend around 6.5 hours each week on their job search, with as many as 38% dedicating up to 10 hours a week.

Yet almost half believe they may not get a response to their applications, let alone a follow-up after interviews.

The same report says that most candidates will go through the same application process as many as 27 times before they get a job.

That's a lot of rejection and a lot of frustration building up for the applicants.

It's no wonder that they get a little, shall we say vocal, about the response from your HR department, or lack of it when the stakes are high. They feel like their time and effort doesn't even earn the respect of a quick email to let them know they were out of the running weeks earlier.

How does that affect your company?

Pew Research Center estimates that one-in-three American workers are Millennials, easily surpassing Gen Xers.

And we all know that Millennials live and breathe social media.


So imagine the reviews, tweets and Facebook posts about your company if they can't get a simple acknowledgement.


Frankly, we see this as a major missed opportunity to spin an uncomfortable conversation into positives for your company.

But like most trends, this one takes some vision and some...courage. (Did that just sound like a challenge? It is! Let's go!)

Interview Rejection Swag

For some it's a controversial trend they want no part of. But with correct timing, rejection swag acknowledges job applicants and let's your company go to the top of the appreciation list. 


It turns out, Millennials are especially vocal about rejection, but they are also surprisingly vocal about being shown some appreciation for their efforts.

Alyssa James wrote an article for Bustle about one applicant’s experience applying for a job at Toggl, a time tracker and employee timesheet software provider. 

Laurel Wright was not only appreciative of the follow-up, but of the gift.

And she shared her experience on social media where it snowballed into articles about her experience on all kinds of sites from Bustle to radio stations.

Toggl got brave and inventive. They turned a negative experience into an opportunity to build their company image.

But there is a dark side.

Some companies are hesitant to send out a "consolation gift" because it highlights failure, leaving the applicant with a bad last impression.

But we think this is where most HR departments have missed a HUGE opportunity. They ditch the rejection swag without considering one crucial element.



How to Do Interview Rejection Swag Right

Rejection swag is an impressive tool, if you pay attention to the simple, two-step process.

  • Assess the candidates' chances
  • Send the gift appropriate for their status at the right time


Let's take a look at how that would play-out in a real situation.

Remember, 43% of candidates never hear from a company where they have applied. That is the first missed opportunity.

If a candidate isn't a good match from the beginning, make it a priority to get in touch. Yes, it eats up time you want to spend in other areas, but it's also an investment in your company image.

And it isn't enough to skip it because a lot of other companies do.

If you want to stand out in your market, be different than all the rest. We've written on the topic. A lot. 

10 Tips for Buying Swag Your Customers and Staff Will Love

4 Secrets for Prospecting with Branded Giveaways

The Psychology of Swag


We share everything on social media and since they’re already sharing their experience with your interview process, give them something to talk about! Taking the time to update an application status will pay-off when strong candidates read your reviews.

But let's take it a step further.

Step one is to evaluate a job applicant's chances of being a good match. Let's say you have a candidate that obviously won't make the initial cut.

Instead of just an email, send a small gift and an acknowledgement of their time BEFORE you send out the rejection.

It's classy! Classy is memorable and memorable gets shared!

STEP ONE TIP: Don't associate your swag with a negative event like a rejection notice. Timing is everything! Other companies use swag as a consolation prize and hope it softens the blow. That’s why some companies hesitate. You DO run the risk of associating your company with a negative experience.

Done correctly, you have the opportunity to link your promo gift to a positive. You are taking the time to acknowledge applicants—and that's an image building opportunity!


The interview time-line can be a long one with several stages, especially if you have several candidates with great potential.

Step-two is for those applicants who clearly move further into the interview process.

It's still important for your company image to acknowledge their time and get in touch. But the gift should be a more substantial and meaningful. Sometimes you can personalize the gift to the position. For example, if you're hiring in the tech department, cool tech gadgets are a perfect choice.

STAGE TWO TIP: If you have candidates that you want to impress or that you want to keep interested in your company, up your game. Send a larger gift that is more appropriate to the position, or the level of interest you have in the candidate.

If you're in HR and you're trying to find ways to improve your company image or the quality of your job applicants, you have to stand out. You aren't going to do that by treating them as the disposable assets that your competitor will.

Recognize an upcoming trend and take the challenge. You aren’t alone in taking the challenge. Companies like Molton Brown (the British luxury bath and body brand), Sonos, Toggl and many other big names are already on board.

Start turning a negative into an opportunity that pays off by using interview rejection swag to build your company image.

It pays off.