When to Follow Up After Applying For a Job


Q: How long should I wait before sending a follow-up letter to a potential employerwho hasn’t responded to an application and resume? Also, where can I find information about “professional” employment opportunities aside from job boards?

A: Given that your second question refers to job boards, I assume you’re sending resumes in response to online job listings. If this is true, there’s more than one answer to your question.

Ads that contain employer names are easy to follow up on, because you know who to contact. In fact, a smart applicant will address their cover letter to the personnel director or recruiter specifically. After a week to 10 days, call to make sure your resume was properly received, answer any questions about it and hopefully schedule an interview. At the least, ascertain the time frame for the selection process and where you now stand.

Unfortunately, so-called “confidential” ads that don’t reveal the employer’s name present a real problem, because you have minimal information. Without knowing the company, you can’t call anyone. You’re left in the dark, waiting for the phone to ring. While some organizations send polite form-letter rejections, others only contact those they wish to interview. The interviewing process may drop in the firm’s list of priorities and start weeks after expected, but you won’t know this either.

Three weeks to a month is a safe interval for following up on a blind ad. A short email indicating your continuing interest in the position may get a response, especially since few applicants bother to pursue the job beyond sending a resume. Potential employers appreciate enthusiasm and perseverance. Most job seekers miss an important opportunity when they worry about being overeager.

One way to avoid questions about when to follow up on a job listing is to rely on networking as a job search method instead. 80% to 90% of positions are filled through networking. Potential contacts are all around you, but you’ll have to do a little work to find them. Some sources are:

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