November 6, 2013
When and how job candidates should follow up
Job candidates are often confused about when and how to follow up with employers. As a recruiter, I frequently hear questions such as "How long should I wait to contact a recruiter after initial contact?" and "How should I follow up with a company when I see a job I am qualified for?"
I'm going to preface this by saying my answers are geared toward the perspective of corporate recruiters -- that is, people who work directly with a company on internal positions, as opposed to those who work for a staffing agency.
If you have applied online for a position, it is fine to try to reach a recruiter or hiring manager via LinkedIn. Or you can call the company's main switchboard and ask to be directed to a recruiter. If you know the email address of the recruiter or the hiring manager, sending an email message works, too. But I would counsel you to stick to one of these methods -- not all of them.
Recently, a candidate contacted me about a position. He applied online. He called my manager and me and left voice mails. He emailed us both. He stopped by the building and dropped off a copy of his resume. He sent us LinkedIn invitations. In short, he crossed the line from being tenacious to almost making me feel like I had a stalker.
If you have any sort of scheduled contact with a company, such as a phone screen, it is totally appropriate to send a thank-you email and ask when you might expect to hear about the next steps. Do this within 48 hours. If you don't hear back, you might try giving the recruiter a call. Sometimes we have a lot going on, and a gentle reminder will net you results.
If you interviewed on-site, definitely follow up. In this case, contacting the hiring manager is fine if you have tried recruiting/HR with no results. If you are given a timeline of a week, wait a week. But you deserve an answer one way or another.
Although most recruiters diligently try to follow up with all candidates, there is an undeniable truth that we generally contact only those candidates who fit the position. Let's say that you applied for a position and tried to follow up, but didn't receive a response within a couple of weeks. Whether the job is still open or the position has closed, it is safe to assume that you weren't a finalist. But don't let that get you down; simply move on to the next opportunity.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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