Want to know what recruiters are really thinking? In our Ask a Recruiter series, we invite you to take an exclusive look inside the mind of a real recruiter — Jeni Lambertson — to see how she approaches the hiring process.
Twice a month, Jeni will answer a question from one of our readers. If you have a question about finding the right job posting, emailing the right person, or landing yourself on a recruiter's desk, drop it in the comments.
Q: How do I follow up on my application status without being annoying?
Embarking on the journey to find a new role is often fraught with emotion. It is exciting, challenging, frightening and sometimes involves questioning yourself. Your ability, your interview performance and even how to best communicate with your prospective employer.
I've learned this not only from my experience as a recruiter, but also as a candidate. I understand the rollercoaster ride that is applying and interviewing for new opportunities. It requires what feels like the perfect balance of eager and tenacious while not coming off as "pushy" or "demanding."
Here's the thing: unless you are rude and relentless in your communication with the recruiter or human resources person, it is impossible to be bothersome by following up on your application and interview status as fielding candidate questions is part of their job.
However, with that said, there are some fool-proof measures you can take to ensure correspondence is minimal while still feeling clear around your status.
The first step when applying for a job is to believe whatever the application tells you.
For example, some applications will say something like, "Due to the number of resume submissions we receive we aren’t able to give status updates, but if invited for an interview, you will be contacted directly by the manager for that position." In this case, I wouldn't suggest inquiring. But, that doesn't mean directly after submitting your resume you cannot find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and add them with a short note letting them know you have applied for the role and are extremely excited by the prospect of learning more, should they feel your skills meet the criteria. Often one job can see hundreds of submissions and going the extra distance to reiterate interest can make a big difference.
If you applied for a job and it has been a few weeks with no response, then it is perfectly acceptable to send an email asking for an update.
Be sure to thank the person in advance for their time, and then ask if they can share the status of your application.
For those currently in the interview process, I suggest asking what expectations they have around timing. Something like, " I would love to understand what your timeline for making this hire is."
And of course, do not fail to send a thoughtful Thank You note for the interviewer's time. As an aside on the importance of Thank You's -- Last year I had two candidates interviewing for the same role. My client was utterly torn as to who to hire because they loved both of the women. The deciding factor was one of the candidates had taken the time to write lengthy notes to each person who interviewed her, while the other sent a version of the same thank you letter to each person. The client took it to mean that the first candidate was more excited and better understood the role. She got the role.
If you have already interviewed, sent your Thank You and still haven't heard back, then I would suggest calling the person who has been your main point of contact.
Again keep it complimentary and understanding of their time. Something like, "I realize you are swamped, but I am hoping you can provide feedback and also share if there will be any next steps."
While hiring managers should provide candidates with updates — especially those they have spoken or met with in-person — sometimes it just slips through the cracks. If someone has told you, they will be in touch and has neglected to do so, hold them accountable. Just remember that politeness is paramount.
Jeni Lambertson is the founder and CEO of the constellations, a female-first procurement service. She's passionate about bringing diversity to future-thinking companies while simultaneously doing her part to close the wage gap.