Saturday’s job ads go online and you spot the job of your dreams. The work, hours, company, atmosphere, location and overall opportunity wow you. So you send off a stunning cover letter and resume. You just know you’re going to get the position, because it lines up perfectly with your skills, experience and education. A few days go by, but you haven’t heard anything. So you send an email to the human resources (HR) manager at the company.
The HR manager replies, letting you know that they’re currently reviewing resumes from dozens of high-calibre applicants and that they’ll be in touch with short-listed candidates soon. You write back, asking them to take some time to review your resume. Two days later, you call the HR manager to ask if she has had a chance to look at your resume. She tells you that they will contact people selected for interviews, but that they are very busy right now reviewing applications from many strong candidates.
After the weekend, you call the HR manager again. Her voice mail tells you that she’s away on training for four days. You leave a voice mail, asking her to call you.
The next day, surprised that she hasn’t called you back, you leave another voice mail. Then you press 0 to speak to the receptionist. You tell the receptionist that you need to talk to the manager of the department for “your” job. She doesn’t realize you weren’t interviewed, and puts you through.
When you reach the hiring manager, you politely introduce yourself and pitch yourself for the job. The manager tells you that HR will be shortlisting candidates and passing along the names of interviewees. She asks you to follow up with HR. However, you insist that you’re a great candidate and ask her to keep an eye out for your name.
Friday, you call the hiring manager again. Surprised, she tells you that you were supposed to follow up with HR, not her. She seems a little stern. You’re flabbergasted that she just doesn’t see the connection between you and the position, so you start your pitch again. She insists that you follow up with HR. At this point, you’re getting annoyed and you stammer that the company seems to be wasting time, when they’ve got a great candidate right in front of them. The hiring manager grunts goodbye and tells you not to call again. You’ve blown it.
What went wrong?
How did you go from the perfect candidate to an annoying job-seeker? Well, there’s a fine line between being a polite, resourceful job-seeker and one who drives employers crazy.
Here are some tips to help you stay on the right track:
- Wait at least a week to follow up on a job application.
- When you do follow up, use a brief, polite email. Note that you applied for the position and that you want to confirm they’ve received your resume.
- If the employer follows up with you, pay attention to the reply. Do they say they will be contacting candidates? Do they ask you to contact them? Do they give you a timeline for the interview process?
- Wait another week to 10 days, or follow the timeline given by the employer. Say you’re just following up to see how the interview process is going, since you see a strong fit between your qualifications and the company’s needs.
- Pay attention to the employer’s response. If their words or tone indicate that further contact is not welcome, stop following up. If they seem warm and inviting, wait another two to three weeks. Employers sometimes take a long time to sort through resumes. You want them to know you’re eager, but not anxious or annoying.
- Should you be lucky enough to receive an interview, use the conclusion of the meeting to ask when they plan to make a hiring decision.
- Follow up on an interview with a brief thank you letter to each member of the interview panel, regardless of whether you want the job or not. You never know when you might run into the company or its people again.
- After a week to 10 days, follow up with a brief, polite phone call or email. Remember, the hiring process can be complicated by corporate events, holidays, sick leaves, budget cuts, sales and more.
- Above all else, pay attention to the employer’s cues. If they don’t invite contact or they seem annoyed, you’ve gone too far. Wait for the employer to make a move.
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