Make Timing Count in the Job Search

In the job search, timing can mean everything. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if the job search had clear deadlines? “Call the recruiter back no later than 3:00 p.m. today,” or “follow up on last week’s application by noon tomorrow.” Everything is easier when there’s a set schedule to follow.

I often receive questions from job seekers about when they should follow up on a job application or an interview, so I think today is a good day to talk about timing. Here are a few guidelines to help you follow up on job leads at the right time.

Application follow-up

Whenever possible, follow up approximately one week after the job application deadline (if listed). This gives the employer enough time to review the resumes. If the job posting didn’t list an application deadline, the rule of thumb is to follow up one week after your initial application. Click on the following link for information on how to follow up on an anonymous posting.

Interview thank-you note

Send a thoughtful thank-you message to each interviewer within 24 hours of every interview. Make sure to collect business cards or write down the proper spelling of interviewers’ names and email addresses during the interview process to ensure a timely and accurate follow-up.

Interview follow-up

Once you’ve sent your initial message, follow up via email or by phone one week later (assuming you didn’t get a response) to determine where the employer is in the hiring process and how you stack up against the other candidates. Always tailor the frequency of your follow-up communication to match the proximity of the employer to the hiring decision. If you’ve been given advance permission to follow up directly with the hiring manager, one call a week is appropriate. Don’t call unless you have something to say to influence your cause.

When you’re excited about a particular opportunity, the last thing you want to do is scare the employer away with the wrong type of follow-up. Remember, there’s a fine line between enthusiastic and intrusive. Hectoring the recruiter or hiring manager could backfire badly. Use the guidelines above to properly time your follow-up communication with employers.