To quote the late, great Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.” That’s especially true in the job hunt. You work so hard on your resume, your cover letter, your interview skills…and then you wait. At every step of the process, you…wait. Every company and every job seem to have their own timeline—there’s no overarching guidance on how long it takes to fill a position. It’s also a process subject to human error and human delays (people out sick, holidays, overwhelming work load), which make the waiting feel even more uncertain.
However, that doesn’t mean you should always resign yourself to an open-ended period of waiting. There are ways to handle application queries and follow-up that won’t annoy your friendly local HR rep and won’t make you look like too much of an eager beaver.
Find out up-front about the timeline
Recruiters and hiring managers may not know exactly how long it will take to fill a position. (Again, the unpredictability of life and business can disrupt even the most efficient timelines.) However, it’s legitimate to ask the question initially: “Hi! I just submitted my resume for Job Name. Do you know roughly how long before you’re expecting to notify candidates?”
Or maybe you’ll get an auto-response when you submit, either saying that the company doesn’t guarantee a response or that you’ll hear (for example) within a week. If it’s the former, you won’t win any friends by calling them to follow up on an application that isn’t guaranteed a response. If it’s the latter, wait at least the amount of time that they indicated.
If you’re interviewing and can reasonably expect some kind of official notification of whether you got the job or not, it’s okay to ask for a time range in the interview. Again, it may not be exact, but at least you’ll know whether you should call if you don’t hear back after that period of time has passed.
Give it at least a week
If it’s been more than a week since you submitted, it’s legitimate to send an email thanking the company for their time and consideration and letting them know that you’re available. It should just be a brief note—and again, don’t try to pin them down on exact specifics that they may not have. It’s about reminding them of your application and your availability.
Hi Ms. Jackson,
I hope you had a lovely weekend! Thanks again for speaking with me last week. I’m very interested in this position at Company X and would love the opportunity to join your team. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s more information I can provide as part of the hiring process.
Call if email doesn’t work
Email is usually the best way to reach someone these days. Phone calls can feel more intrusive and less sensitive of someone’s time. However, if it’s been a few weeks and you’ve heard nothing after an interview or other promise of notification, it’s okay to reach out via phone to your contact. Again, be very mindful of the person’s time and understand that it might be circumstances—and not laziness or forgetfulness—that explain why you haven’t received a response. Always be friendly and polite and don’t get upset if you don’t get the exact response you’re hoping to get. That’s life, but you’ll have made a good-faith effort to get more information.
The waiting game is always tough, but you don’t need to watch your inbox forever, waiting for any response whatsoever. You can reach out in polite, non-pressuring ways that can help you get the updated information you need.
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