Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

3 Rules for Following Up With a Recruiter

person on phone

You’ve been stood up.

You applied to a position, confirmed your resume was received, and got the wink and the gun from the recruiter that your application looked good. So you’re popping your collar, thinking you’re in like Flynn, waiting for the hiring manager to call to schedule an interview.

But a couple of weeks have gone by, and you’ve got nothing but radio silence and the sound of your employment biological clock occupying your thoughts. Tick. Tock.

So, what’s a neglected job seeker to do? You’re still interested, but you aren’t quite certain how to break the silence without being awkward.

This recruiter’s advice: Go ahead and follow up. Just make sure to use your professional common sense and avoid reacting to your feelings of job search angst.

With that in mind, here are a few recruiter-friendly suggestions for following up on your applications.

1. Email, Don’t Call

Between sourcing through thousands of resumes, back-to-back phone screens and interviews, endless administrative tasks, and traveling, recruiters don't have a lot of bandwidth for phone chats on every candidate’s status.

So, skip the phone and send an email. It leaves a paper trail, it allows the recruiter time to properly look up your status information, it eliminates those annoying games of phone tag, and it prevents what I call drunk dialing the recruiter. (Nerves replace alcohol, but the result is the same: leaving a lengthy, nonsensical voicemail that hurls any candidacy consideration down the proverbial drain.)

And keep it simple. A few sentences reminding the recruiter of something specific you discussed or asking for information on next steps in the process is the best way to get a response and keep your positive recruiter rapport intact.

For example:

Hi Mary,

I applied to the Senior Marketing position #12345 two weeks ago and would like to get some information on the hiring process timeline. I’m very eager to learn more about this position, and any updates you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


2. Show Interest, Not Desperation

Hey, it’s okay to show your enthusiasm when following up. But, you shouldn’t break out the knee pads and start begging for an interview during your initial check-in (I’ve seen it happen).

Be subtle and succinct. Remind the recruiter of your interest in the job, and back it up with specific examples of why you’d be a good fit. This doesn’t need to be a dissertation or regurgitation of the information on your resume—just one to two bullet points that quantify what you bring to the table:

As I mentioned in my resume, I created strategies that increased market share by 12% in my previous role, and I know I can make the same type of impact in this position.

End. Scene.

3. Don’t Invade Personal Space

In other words, don’t get too familiar, too soon by being overly casual or personal with the recruiter.

Even a great initial interaction with the recruiter doesn’t give you license to follow up with social media invites, emails to personal accounts or websites, or asks for recommendations. Recruiters interact with dozens of candidates a week to fill roles, not interview potential BFFs. And they don’t appreciate candidates invading their personal cyberspace with inquiries about application statuses or hiring team contact information.

Play it safe and keep it professional. Ask recruiters up front when you should follow up or if they’re comfortable with you reaching back out to ask about your status. Failure to respect personal boundaries could send red flags on your personal judgment or have you labeled as a potential stalker. And that’s risky business for your job search prospects.

At the end of the day, let common courtesy and common sense be your guide. If you haven’t heard anything two weeks after applying to a position, you’re in the safe zone for following up with the recruiter.

And, if you’ve followed up twice and still get radio silence? Take that as your cue. It’s probably time to move on to the next great opportunity.