How Long Should I Wait After Applying?


One question I often get asked by job seekers I work with is how long should I wait to follow up with an employer after applying for a job.  So today, let’s look at this question from both your point of view as the applicant, and the employers point of view.

First however, let me ask you to honestly think about your own comfort level in general with picking up the phone and making the follow up call. Are you comfortable doing this and just want to know when, or are you uncomfortable making the call no matter when the time is right? You see, there are many applicants I’ve worked with who don’t really want to make that call and would put it off indefinitely unless I sat right next to them and gently pushed them to make the call. Okay, so you know deep down whether you’re likely to make the call in the end. Good.

As to when is the right time to make the call, I’m sorry to disappoint you but the answer is a very unclear, “it depends”.  Oh keep reading though, I’ll give you more guidance than that!

Looking at the job ad, are there any indicators of a deadline date? When you know the closing date to apply to a job, you have to assess how close it is coming up or indeed if it’s past. Knowing where you stand on the calendar with respect to this date guides you as to what to say when you make the call. If the deadline date is another two weeks in the future, you can still call to confirm they received your application and you can go further and ask if you might be able to pick up a more detailed job description, additional information on the organization or perhaps an annual report. The smart thing of course would be to inquire about the more detailed job description prior to submitting your application so you can include more relevant information on your resume that others will not. Just a hint.

Should the deadline have passed just recently, you should definitely make the call now. You may not have ever been someone who hires for a company, but I have and I talk with others who do. Many employers receive resumes up to the deadline date and then wait a couple of days or more. Why are they waiting when there’s a position to fill you ask? While they sift through the applicants to determine possible candidates, they also heed who calls and who doesn’t. Their assumption is that the go-getters, the ones who are really hungry and want the job the most are the ones who will call. Not desperate you understand, but they are viewed as determined, professional, show initiative and the employers are then also able to hear the applicant’s voice, their ability to express themselves and now they have additional information which they don’t on those who just sit home and hope for a call.

I bet you’re argument however is that today many job postings clearly state no calls; that only certain applicants will be contacted. This is one frustrating thing for those who are good at following up and it’s the best argument possible for those who hate picking up the phone and talking to an employer. It levels the playing field for those who are glad not to have to call. Well, guess what? Do an experiment and call some employer’s anyhow. What!? Seriously? Fly in the face of the employer’s wishes and call when they ask you not to?

Here’s a strategy to try. (And after all, if your current way of going about things isn’t working, continuing to go about things the way you are up to now just might continue to end in no positive results.)

Determine that you’re going to call. When you do, don’t just say, “Did I make the cut?” and then hang up. That’s what the employer asked you not to do. Try this:

Hello, my name is ______ and I’m competing for the position of _____. I understand and respect your wishes not to be contacted for an interview, so I’m calling just to introduce myself so I stand out from the competition, and want to expressing how grateful I’d be for the opportunity to demonstrate my strong interest in person. If there’s any additional information you’d like, I’m only too happy to deliver that to you.

So, you haven’t actually called with the lame, “So, are you going to interview me?”, and you acknowledge you’re aware of their instructions not to bother them. Is it a gamble? Sure it is. So is applying for a job in the first place. You might like it and you might not; the whole application is a gamble. You will succeed with some employers in showing them how polite and professional you are – determined to succeed where others are not. Or you will turn off an employer who doesn’t want anyone to show initiative, tenacity, determination or resolve.

Keep track of the jobs you apply to and which ones you follow up with a phone call and which you don’t. Look for patterns and what works over what doesn’t. Do more of what works.

When you do call, be in a quiet place, resume in front of you, pen and paper ready, know your calendar. Good luck!

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