One question I’ve been asked a lot is when should a job seeker follow up with an employer. The answer depends on how far into the process you are.
If you sent a resume to a hiring manager that doesn’t know you, it’s likely you will hear back within a week or two if they have an interest. If you haven’t heard anything after a couple weeks, you can try a follow up email or a phone call. (Emailing a resume is ok, but if you can get referred into the company by someone, or if you cold call the hiring manager, your more likely to get a close look.)
If you have interviewed with the company, either a phone screen or face-to-face, the hiring manager may have provided you with an estimate of when you will hear back from them. This isn’t always the case. If you don’t know their process, it can be very tough to guess. Some companies move fast and will get in touch after a day or two. Others will let weeks pass after an interview before they move to the next step.
If they have given you a time frame, wait until a couple days after they said they would be in touch. At that point, a phone call won’t be out of line. If they haven’t given a time frame, I would generally recommend waiting a couple weeks.
What you don’t want to do is call before they consider it reasonable. For example, I worked on a search where the division president was out the country for an extended time. The company specifically instructed the candidate that they would not be in touch for more than 3 weeks, and they were very interested in moving forward to a final interview after that. At the two week mark, the candidate was very worried about why he hadn’t heard anything. Calling at that point would just demonstrate impatience, an inability to follow instructions and a level of desperation that would hurt the candidate’s chances.
So, what do you do if the company said they are going to make an offer? Depending on the company, putting together an offer could take some time. With a slow economy, many businesses have put procedures in place to slow the amount of hiring they are doing. They are still hiring, but are trying to make sure they only fill the most critical positions. This often means that a position needs to be approved by a much higher level executive than usual, and this can take time.
If an offer is forthcoming, I wouldn’t follow up for at least a week. Ten days is good rule of thumb. Of course, if they say it will take two weeks to put an offer together, wait at least 2 ½ weeks to call.
One final thing to remember… if the hiring process is going well and the company is staying in touch every week or so, don’t push the issue. When they tell you they are going to make an offer, there is very little you can do to improve the situation. What can happen is the additional contacts can give the company a reason to not make the offer.