Once you submit an application for a job that you would really like to be offered, it can be difficult to sit and wait patiently for a prospective employer to get back to you. We’ve all been there – you stumble upon a job advertisement that suits you down to a tea. You get to work on your application – trying to present your skills as best you can on paper – before hitting send and hoping for the best. And then…nothing.
It’s usually expected that they’ll be some sort of delay between submitting your application and getting a response, but if the silence stretches on for too long, it can leave you wondering whether your application was even received.
When this happens, it can be useful to put an end to the silence yourself by contacting the company you applied to, to find out the current status of your application. We know that it’s not always easy to decide on the most effective way to do this (or to decide whether it’s appropriate to do it at all), which is why we’ve come up with some helpful tips to help you remain in full control of your job search during frustrating periods of silence.
Before making the decision to follow up on your application, take the time to re-read the original job advert. Some employers give a rough idea of how long you should expect to wait before receiving a response – which can vary depending on the volume of applications being received. If the given wait time hasn’t passed then it’s best to sit tight and follow up only once the specified time has elapsed.
As much as employers want to see that you’re keen, they’ll also want to see that you can be patient, respect their time frames and have excellent attention to detail (which comes from proving that you’ve read the job ad in enough detail to have spotted these time frames).
If a job advertisement asks you specifically not to contact the company about the status of your job application, then – as frustrating as it is – you should avoid doing so, otherwise you may risk harming the status of your application.
Employers love enthusiasts but if they’ve asked you not to contact them then there’s usually a good reason. By choosing to ignore their requests and pushing for a response anyway, it’s unlikely that you’ll be increasing your chances of getting the job. Only follow up on your application if you can see no reason why you shouldn’t – otherwise keep those fingers firmly away from the keyboard!
When considering how to contact a prospective employer to see whether your application has been successful or not, employers often prefer job candidates to send an email or a private LinkedIn message rather than call them out of the blue.
If the job posting provides a contact name or email address for the person dealing with the applications then you can email or message them directly. Otherwise it’s a good idea to have a good look at the general contact details on the company’s website to find the most suitable email address to use. If the only contact email address available is a generic one, like [email protected] (without a specific person attached), then just be sure to write a clear subject line indicating that you are following up on a specific role, so that it can be directed to the right person.
Because neither an email or a LinkedIn message require an instant response, you’ll be enabling whoever is dealing with the applications to go away and look at your application again before getting in touch with you.
Giving the company a nudge to let them know you’re waiting whilst allowing them a bit of extra space to track down your application is likely to lead to a fuller, more helpful response.
Think carefully about what it is you want to say before sitting down to write your follow-up message – it can help to make a few brief notes beforehand to help you stick to the point. You should try to be as brief as possible to avoid sending (what looks like) a repeat job application. Otherwise your email risks sinking to the bottom of an ever-increasing pile of incoming applications.
Reintroduce yourself briefly, recap your keen interest in the position, and then ask when job candidates should expect to hear a response about their application. Chances are you won’t be the only one following up on their application and employers are busy, so by getting straight to the point, you’ll increase your chances of getting a faster response.
Although you’ve contacted the company once already to submit your application, when following up it’s still best to remain as professional as you would be if contacting them for the first time. So, even if you already know that the first name of your potential boss is “Stephen” because you saw it on his LinkedIn profile, this doesn’t mean you should use it to address him in your follow up message.
Importantly, while it can be highly frustrating not to have heard back already, always ensure you keep a positive upbeat tone. There may be a very valid reason why they haven’t contacted you yet so it’s important not to leap to conclusions and do anything that might put them off inviting you in for an interview!.
Be friendly, but stick to the formalities if you want to show that you have an awareness of professional boundaries between employer and employee.
If a job posting does not indicate how long you should expect to wait before receiving a response, then it’s generally best to wait at least a week after submitting your application before following up. Nine out of ten times, the hiring companies have a huge list of tasks to do and responding to job candidates will only be one of them. It’s important to remember that the person or people who are responsible for processing your application are only human and if they’ve received a high volume of applications for a role then they may be struggling to get through them all – so give them a reasonable chance at getting back to you before you make your move.
There may be times when you follow up on your application, only to find out that your application is not going to be progressed to the next stage. Although this is disappointing, don’t let this demotivate you. Instead use it as a learning curve that drives you forward to apply for other things.
Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to respond to the company (again, via email or LinkedIn is best) to ask them whether they can give you any feedback on your application. Some companies are unable to do this if they receive a particularly high volume of applications, but unless they’ve already specified this, it’s still worth asking!
Knowing what held you back this time can help you to improve your CV and cover letter for future job applications, moving you one step closer to job success.
Job hunting can be a time-consuming process that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, but the best way to get through it is to always be kind to yourself, whatever the outcome of your application.
As someone slightly older, you’ll have a wealth of skills and life experience to bring to various different job roles – it’s just about finding the right fit for you.