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The Right Way to Acknowledge Your Receipt of a Resume and Cover Letter

BY SUSAN M. HEATHFIELD   Updated on March 01, 2021

Positive Communication With Job Candidates

Do you need a sample application acknowledgment letter? Here is a sample application response letter for the applicants who apply for your open positions. Use this sample letter to develop your own letters to tell anxious applicants that you have received their application and resume. When you fail to acknowledge your job candidates' applications, you fail your first step as a potential employer.

Starting with this letter that lets your applicants know that you have received their resume and cover letter, you open the door to effective communication with the prospective employees who apply for your jobs.

This response letter is sent at one of the four critical points at which your candidates need communication from you. Rather than letting your candidates think that their application disappeared into a dark hole, or forcing them to try to communicate with you repeatedly, you can reassure them that their application is under consideration.

Important: This is important because customizing a resume and a cover letter to apply for your job posting takes a candidate 30 minutes to an hour. Even online forms take a lot of candidate time. The candidate then waits and waits to learn if he or she was among the most qualified applicants and whether they will be invited to participate in a job interview.


No Acknowledgement Can Spark Dysfunctional Candidate Behavior 

By not sending an applicant response letter, you are asking for all sorts of dysfunctional candidate behavior such as calling you repeatedly to find out if you have received their resume and cover letter. Many candidates feel forced to call your office to make sure that they are under consideration—or to determine for sure that they're not. Who can blame them in a competitive job market for desirable jobs?

Tip: Or some candidates send them again, depending on their interest in your posted job, because they don't want to miss out on the opportunity to receive your consideration. These activities double your workload when you have to review repeat resumes and cover letters.

Other candidates might start sending their resumes on colorful paper to catch the employer's eye better. From one employer's memory of a job applicant's desperate measures to get noticed, having to clean up confetti from her desk and the HR office floor did not endear that candidate to her in any way. 

Solidify Your Position as an Employer of Choice to Encourage Employee Referrals

Using the application response letter to communicate with your job candidates maintains your position as an employer of choice. It also helps your employees to function as your candidate recruiting ambassadors in the world and on social media. To be willing to do this, your employees need to be proud of their company brand and of how their employer treats job candidates and employees.

You won't build a successful employee referral program if you fail to respond to your employee referrals. It is also disastrous for you as an employer if your employee asks what their friend heard back and the friend responds, "Not a word."

This letter is your standard applicant response letter for the resumes and applications you receive. Since many of these applications arrive in email, a response via email is acceptable. You can use a standard response for all applicants for any job. You do not need to customize these letters for different positions other than the name of the job.

Application Acknowledgment Letter Sample

You can use this application acknowledgment letter example as a model to notify applicants. Download the letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online), or read the text version below.

Application Acknowledgment Letter Sample (Text Version)

Name of Applicant
Applicant's Address
Dear (Use Applicant's Name):

This letter is to let you know that we have received your application. We appreciate your interest in (Company Name) and the position of (Name of Position) for which you applied. We are reviewing applications currently and expect to schedule interviews in the next couple of weeks. If you are selected for an interview, you can expect a phone call from our Human Resources staff shortly.

Thank you, again, for your interest in our company. We do appreciate the time that you invested in this application.


Real Person's Name
Real Person's Signature

Example: HR Director for the Employee Selection Team

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