How Long You Should Wait to Follow Up in Your Job Search?

You submitted an application for a position that you know you’re a perfect fit for. You’re feeling confident that you’ll hear something back from that employer in no time as you meet all of the requirements.

Days pass and your inbox remains empty. Time goes by again —still no communication or contact.

You realize you should follow up, but you don’t know when to send that email. How soon is too soon? How long is too long? What’s a reasonable timeframe to ask for an update without coming across as persistent and annoying?

Depending upon where you are in the job search process, the answer is different. 

Recruiters and hiring managers are busy people. Yes, filling the open role that you’re interested in is somewhere on their to-do lists—along with a variety of other things. Before getting frustrated, remind yourself that this process takes time.

There are processes and procedures that need to be followed in order for companies to bring on a new hire. These procedures might slow things down for you. But they ultimately exist so that the company can make a thorough and smart hiring decision.

With that in mind, here’s when you should follow up with the company—depending on your current situation.

If You’ve Submitted an Application…

Act contingent upon whether you’ve applied blindly or were referred to this position by somebody in your network.

If you applied blindly, you are somewhat at the mercy of the company and when—and in some cases, if—they choose to respond. If you feel like you absolutely need to check in on your status, be prepared to wait a reasonable amount of time before sending that email (around 5 and 10 business days.)

However, if someone referred you, your best bet is to check in with that person directly after 7 to 10 business days. In your communication, underscore your interest and that you certainly understand things could be busy, but that you also want to know if there is anything else you can do—even if that means continuing to wait.

If You’ve Gone Through the Phone Screening…

You went through the very first phone interview, and things went well. You’re eager to know what’s next. And, fortunately for you, you don’t need to wait long before checking in!

Follow up the same day after a phone screen to let the recruiter know that you enjoyed the conversation, appreciated their willingness to speak with you, emphasize your interest in the company and role, and acknowledge any next steps you both talked about.

If You Had an In-Person Interview…

The timeline for following up after an in-person interview is very similar to that of a phone screening. You know you should send along a genuine “thank you” for the hiring manager’s time, and it’s best to combine that with a follow-up message.

In your email, write that you appreciated and enjoyed the chance to interview and learn more about the company. You should also make sure to highlight your interest in the position once again and let the hiring manager know that you’re looking forward to connecting again soon.

If you received an infamous “I’ll Contact You When I Have an Update” Email…

You went through the interview process, sent your “thank you” email, and then heard nothing for a few days. Then, you received that dreaded message that says something along the lines of, “We’re sorting through candidates. I’ll be in touch when I have an update.”

It’s important to respect the process that the company and recruiter set, even if that means you have to be patient.

With that being said, there are two circumstances when you can send another email:

  • If you’ve received an offer for another job, it’s perfectly reasonable to reach out to this hiring manager and let her know you have another offer you’re evaluating.
  • If you’ve waited a reasonable amount of time with no update, you’re justified in checking in. 

It’s really a judgement call. But, in many cases, it’s your best bet to take the hiring manager’s word and be assured that the company will reach out if and when they want to move forward with you.

Knowing exactly when to follow up can be tricky. You can take a lot of stress out of the process by asking your interviewer what the next steps are in the process. You’ll have a much clearer idea of what’s happening behind the scenes while you’re compulsively refreshing your inbox. 

You’ll have greater peace of mind, and it can also help to inform your decisions about when to check in—and when to just stay patient.