Rejected Talent

Understanding where rejected candidates end up is vital for talent analysis. Identifying trends helps optimize hiring processes and avoid losing critical talent to competitors.

Rejected: Talent Moving On

As a recruiter or hiring manager, do you ever wonder what happens to the candidates that you reject? On a personal level, you wish them well in their next move. But what about on a professional level? Do you care if they go to a competitor? Do you care which competitor? Will they be hired to work on a product that competes with yours?

Identifying trends in your talent pool is as important as identifying behavioral segmentation trends amongst your core consumer demographics. After all, this is about building the teams that create, sell, and support your products.

Who hires the candidates that you reject?

Among the key data points TopFunnel can look at is “rejected candidates by new employer.” In other words – who hires the people that you reject. In a broad look over the past 24 months, a select segment of TopFunnel customers have rejected 18,274 candidates (applicants, referral, and outbound) who went on to work at a FAANGM company – Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Microsoft (see below).

Column: “Total Rejected Candidates by New Employer (FAANGM) – Aug 2018 to Aug 2020”

In a talent pool as vast as what we see on our platform, it is not surprising to find that the rejected candidates will go on to work for great organizations. It’s also not realistic to think that you will be able to hire every candidate deemed a good fit. So, what is the importance of knowing where this talent ultimately lands?

By analyzing movement amongst your rejected candidate pool, you can:

  1. gain insight into which companies are competing for the same roles
  2. discover when your competitors hire your rejected candidates
  3. determine why these candidates are a good fit for your competitors, but not you

If your rejected talent pool is being hired en masse by your competitors, you may be compelled to ask why are we passing on these people?

Why are you rejecting candidates?

It’s not surprising that the overwhelming reason an employer rejects a job candidate is because they lack certain qualifications/skills. That said, as we analyze rejection reasons by company, we notice that “application not reviewed” and “position filled” are also prevalent. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of bad timing. And in tighter job markets, the company with the most efficient recruiting pipeline generally has the upper hand.

Here are tables that show the count of rejected engineering candidates by reason, from two sample data management companies, A and B.

Company A:

Out of 326 rejected engineering candidates who went on to work at FAANGM, 286 missed the cut because their application was not reviewed. A majority of these unreviewed candidates went to work for Amazon.

Table 1: “Rejected Reasons by New Employer (FAANGM) – Aug 2018 to Aug 2020 – Company A – Engineers”

Company B:

Out of 722 rejected engineering candidates who went on to work at FAANGM, 313 did not advance in the hiring process because the position(s) were filled. A majority rejected for the reason “position filled”, went on to work for Amazon.

Table 2: “Rejected Reasons by New Employer (FAANGM) – Aug 2018 to Aug 2020 – Company B – Engineers”

By analyzing the reasons you are rejecting candidates in your pool, you can:

  1. Re-evaluate areas of your hiring process and pipeline to address any inefficiencies.
  2. Understand why certain reasons for rejection are pervasive.
  3. Take corrective action to ensure you are not unduly passing on critical talent resources.
  4. Better allocate hiring resources to avoid sourcing/recruiting candidates for positions that are filled.


Companies without the resources of FAANGM can lose out to great talent at the offer stage but we’re also seeing an opportunity for smaller companies to be more limber at the top of the funnel. Hiring managers have to close positions and it’s unreasonable to expect that every qualified candidate is reviewed before a match is found. Optimizing and shortening interview processes and leveraging next generation systems like TopFunnel and Clara can give you a competitive advantage over larger, more established entities. If you had the insight to see how many non-reviewed, rejected candidates went to work for a competitor in the following months, would you reconsider the amount of coverage you have at the top of the recruiting funnel, to ensure that you are appropriately reviewing all the candidates that are interested in your company?

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