What to do when your top choice hasn’t called with a decision

You went full steam ahead on your job applications until you snagged an interview with your top choice. The meeting went well, and the hiring manager told you to expect a notification soon. You knew that “soon” wouldn’t be three days, but a week has passed.

Now, you’re closing in on two weeks since the interview. Don’t let anxiety over the wait convince you to make a move that may harm your shot at the position, such as aggressively following up or bluffing about another offer.

Instead, follow through with these five tips for when your top choice hasn’t called with an offer:

1. Send an email to someone supportive

In some ways, waiting to hear from your top choice with an offer is like waiting to hear back after a first date. You’re nervous, and your hands are eager to type a hasty message to check on your status. Take a step back and ease those nerves.

Send an email or message to a supportive friend, family member or professional in your network. Talk about your concerns, but also about what you loved and learned during the interview experience. Your support person will actively listen to you while giving you validation and easing your mind. Afterward, you’ll find you have a bit more patience in waiting to hear back and maybe even the motivation to apply for other positions.

2. Breathe and keep living life

The nerve-wracking wait may leave you stuck — upping your anxiety and stress, which can suppress your immune system. You’re more prone to getting sick when stressed, and that won’t help while searching and interviewing for other openings.

Practice mindful breathing to relieve stress — stop those shallow breaths, and take deep breaths to let air into your abdomen at a pace that feels natural to you. Make sure you’re in a relaxed position as you breathe in and out. Don’t forget about the other activities in your life as you remember to breathe.

When was the last time you spent quality time with your family, kids, partner or friends? Call up your best friend for a coffee, or drive an hour to see your cousin. Do the dishes, and start that art project you’ve been talking about for months. Keep living life.

3. Keep up the search

Focus on the reality of the situation — you haven’t received an offer yet. That means that while you’re still in the running, you should also keep up the search. In the process, you may even receive an offer, which you can use for negotiating your compensation if your dream employer calls you back with a job offer.

Maintaining the search will also keep your mind busy as you put in new applications. Give yourself a job search structure, so that you have a few tasks at specified times to focus on each day. This approach boosts your energy and gives you a positive feeling.

4. Send a ‘Thank You’ note

Once you’ve breathed and released your anxiety, send a thank you note to the employer if you haven’t already. You can send the note through an online channel you’ve communicated in previously, such as LinkedIn, or through the mail with a handwritten note. Which medium you choose will depend on a few factors, including time.

When composing your letter, include these points of reflection:

  • A highlight from the interview
  • A positive and surprising fact you learned about the company
  • A detail about the company’s values that resonate with yours

Of course, you should also indicate your interest in possibly contributing and joining the business.

5. Prepare for the worst

While you and your family are hoping for an offer, you want to prepare for the possibility that you don’t receive it. If the call comes and you don’t get the position, carry your professional reputation forward by thanking the interviewer or hiring manager. Ask that they keep your records on file for future consideration and if you may reach out through LinkedIn to connect.

A more difficult scenario arises when no one reaches out to you at all. Two weeks become three, and then a month passes. It’s a possibility that reflects on the company, not you. Remain gracious and give them the benefit of the doubt by sending out a brief follow-up email with a warm and professional tone.

Waiting is the worst when it comes to interviewing for a company you love. Don’t let the wait drive you to check-in too much or say the wrong thing. Keep up the search. If they don’t reach out, be gracious and choose to make this a positive learning experience. The right offer will come, often when you least expect it, and it will be worth the wait — because the company recognizes your value.

Subscribe to the Punched Clocks newsletter for more career advice from Sarah.