Following Up During the Job Search Process

You saw the perfect job posted.  You meet the qualifications.  You submitted your resume and cover letter.  Now you wait.  The waiting can be the most frustrating part for job seekers.  When is it appropriate to follow-up at various stages of the process?

From the moment you first apply, you need to remember that recruiters and hiring managers are busy people.  Filling this open position is far from their only priority.  The company also has a process that needs to be followed.  You don’t have to like this, but you have to accept.  No amount of follow-up from you or other frustrated candidates which change these basic facts.

Following Up On Your Application

If you submitted your application through a referral, wait at least 5 – 7 business days and then politely check in with your contact to inquire about status and next steps in the process.  Check in just once.  If you applied blindly, sending your application online, don’t bother to follow-up.   It is unlikely that anyone will respond and if they do they will not likely share any valuable insights.  You have to let the process play out.

Following a Phone Screen

You just completed a phone screen.  You should send an email thank you to the phone screener before the end of business that day.  Thank them for their time and the information they shared.  Confirm your interest in the opportunity (if indeed your are interested.)  Acknowledge any next steps that were discussed.  This shows interest and strong follow-up on your part.  To really stand out from the crowd, send a handwritten thank you note as well and have it the mail the next morning.

Following an In-Person Interview

Before the end of the day, send an email thank you to the interviewer.  Thank them for their time and the valuable information and insight they shared.  Confirm your interest and next steps.  Refer to something specific you discussed.  Again, write a handwritten thank you note to mail the next morning.

The Black Hole

If time goes by and you continue to hear nothing or the only updated is the dreaded “continuing to evaluate candidates,” it is important to be patient and to respect the process.  Aggressive follow-up or stalking can quickly eliminate you from any further consideration.  Certainly if you receive another offer, it is important to reach out to let them know in case they are interested.  If at least 7 – 10 business days have elapsed, it is acceptable to reach out once for a status update but not all companies will respond.

To help manage the process and your expectations, be sure to ask the interviewer, at EVERY step in the process what next steps they anticipate and what timeline they are pursuing.  Knowing what to expect helps ease the waiting game.


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