Following Up throughout the Application Process

My Image

I get asked the question ?how do I know when to follow up? at least a dozen times a week and, to be honest, it all really depends. It depends on the company and position, the stage of the process that you?re in, and even what time of year it is. There are generally three stages where follow-up could happen and we?re going to discuss each stage, how to follow-up in that stage, and even when not to follow-up.

For any stage it?s important to recognize that it all really depends on the type of position: is it civilian or government, is it a large corporation or small local business? The bigger the corporation the longer the hiring process tends to be, which means that the longer you?ll need to wait before hearing back. And don?t forget to think about what is going on around you. Is it the holiday season, spring break, summer break, did your entire town just go through a massive storm? Chances are, if you are dealing with out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, the interviewer and HR team are as well.

Stage 1: I submitted my application, now what?

If you submit your application and don?t hear anything within 2 weeks you can reach out to the company. For government positions, you?ll want to wait until the posting date has closed as they often don?t begin to review content until the end of the posting date.

Typically, you will need to reach out to HR directly unless you know the direct hiring manager or recruiter contact information. You can do this either by email or phone. Often times you won?t hear specifics back about your application but you can get a status update on where they are in the review process, which can give you an idea of how much longer the wait could be, but be prepared to receive no response or a generic response that tells you that if you are a fit for the role they will reach out.


Stage 2: The HR assistant and I spoke, when should I follow-up?

Did you get the follow-up details before you ended the call? If not, make a note to do this with all future meetings. This will allow you to know exactly when to reach out, who to contact, and what to  expect, potentially.

I like to wait a full 24 hours after the day the HR rep told me that I?d hear back. Why is that?! Well, working in HR can be chaotic and things, including time, get away from us too. Waiting that extra day gives the HR team a little bit of a buffer to catch up. If you are unsure of the timeline after speaking with the HR assistant, it is a good rule of thumb to wait 5-7 business days before reaching out again. The HR assistant is typically screening many candidates which can take up to a week, or more, depending on the position and company.

Stage 3: I had an interview; how long do I wait until I reach out?

You should always end your interview knowing what to expect. Always ask what the timeline is and who to contact-- GET BUSINESS CARDS. For post-interview follow-up there are two separate messages that you?ll send. The first is a thank-you email and the second is only needed if you haven?t heard back by the timeline set out in your interview. If, by chance,  you forgot to get a timeline of what and when to expect to hear back, asking the interviewer in your thank-you email is 100% acceptable, BUT make sure that you thank them first and foremost, and then ask for that information.

If you haven?t heard back by the end of the timeline, or 5-7 business days after your interview, reaching out via email is the best option. Remember that, when applying for jobs, checking your email daily is a must; don?t just check your inbox, check those junk or spam mail folders. Even your updates and social folders can filter important emails, so make sure you didn?t miss any emails BEFORE sending an "I haven?t heard back yet" email.

The hardest part of the process, when following up, is knowing when not to reach out, when enough is enough, and being able to read between the lines. ?He?s just not that into you?; when should I bow out gracefully? It?s a good rule of thumb to be present and persistent BUT not pushy.

Here are a few ways to avoid coming off as pushy

or even annoying.

Don?t reach out when you have heard back and they have said thanks but no thanks, or we aren?t ready to make a decision yet, or we?ve decided to postpone hiring at this time, etc.

Don?t reach out repeatedly on the same day/week. If you haven?t received a response and you keep emailing or calling, trust me, you won?t receive one.

Don?t try to force a relationship (working or not) at any time. If they aren?t into you, chances are your follow-up emails and calls won?t change that? it is possible to not be a good fit and that?s okay!

It?s okay to want answers and have questions or concerns about the process, where you stand, and why you weren?t chosen. But it can be tricky to judge when it?s appropriate to ask those questions. If you need help gauging appropriate follow-up protocols, or just juggling the process as a whole, our Employment Specialist team is here to help!


Written By: Phylicia Vallier