I gave my email one last quick read, took a deep breath, and pressed “send” on the resume and cover letter I’d spent hours tailoring, tweaking, and polishing.
You see, I was fresh out of college and eager to land a job. And, fortunately, I’d just found one that sounded like it was the perfect fit. I more than fulfilled every single requirement they were asking for—I even had everything that made it to their “preferred but not required” list.
I knew that I was a shoo-in, and I was eager to just get the email from the hiring manager confirming what I knew to be true. I was certain I’d hear from her that very next day with what was sure to be an enthusiastic, “Finally! Where have you been all of our lives?” sort of message.
So, imagine my surprise when the tomorrow came and there was nothing but radio silence. And, the next day? Still nothing.
I was green and impatient, so I followed up only a mere three days after submitting my original application. Trust me, the thought alone makes me cringe right now.
As I’m sure you can imagine, soon after that she responded to let me know that I wasn’t a fit. I was disappointed, but this experience also taught me something valuable: As the job seeker, it’s easy to expect way too much out of the hiring manager. You assume that you’re the top priority when—spoiler alert—that’s very rarely the case.
Think you’ve never fallen into this same seemingly egomaniacal trap? You might be surprised. Here are three times when your standards and expectations for that hiring manager are just a little too high.
1. When You Anticipate an Immediate Response
After that cringe-worthy tale of woe, you probably figured that this one had to be first on the list. I know I wasn’t the first person to jump the gun on following up—and I certainly won’t be the last.
In an effort to save you from my very same fate, here’s something to remember: You are not the hiring manager’s first priority—meaning you might have to wait a while before you hear anything back about that position you’re so excited about.
But, wait, isn’t it his job to fill this open role? Yes, absolutely. However, if you think that’s the only thing he has on his to-do list, you’re sorely mistaken. Chances are that he’s doing this on top of his usual work—and unless he works in HR, this isn’t exactly his wheelhouse.
That means he’s not in front of his computer just anxiously waiting for your application to land in his inbox (sorry!). So, resist the urge to repeat my mistake and follow up when you don’t hear back right away.
It might feel torturous, but plan to hold off for a full two weeks before you politely check in on the status of your application.
2. When You Make Them Do All of the Work
That application seems like a total pain, so you decide to put an oh-so-helpful, “See resume!” in each open field. Or, instead of spending the time refining your application at all, you decide it’s best if you just refer that hiring manager to your website—you did an awesome job with that, after all.
Yes, that approach might save you plenty of time and effort. Believe me, I know as well as anybody just how annoying it is to have to enter the address of your high school (excuse me, what?) into those pesky online systems. But, that doesn’t mean you can just skip steps altogether.
The hiring manager’s job is tough enough without you forcing her to put in the legwork to understand your qualifications. Guess what—that’s legwork she likely won’t do at all, meaning your application will find its way straight to the trash bin.
Remember to read the application instructions carefully and then follow them to the letter. The easier you can make it for the person reading it, the better off you’ll be.
3. When You Expect Them to Have All of the Answers
What are the ins and outs of the health insurance coverage? When can I start contributing to my 401K? Are there any gluten-free snacks in the kitchen?
It’s tempting to think of the hiring manager as this all-knowing deity who exists to answer any and all of your remotely job-related questions.
But, here’s the truth: His job is to guide you through the hiring process and answer your specific questions about the role—like what sorts of things you’ll be responsible for each week. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he has the perfect response to absolutely every logistical question you have swimming in your brain.
Of course, you can ask questions you have about the position, the company in general, or what you can expect moving forward.
But, if you start getting frustrated this his answers to a lot of your inquiries is, “Let me look into that for you,” keep in mind that he’s not clueless, he’s just not in HR. (Also keep in mind that early on in the process, you’re better off asking one of these questions.)
You take your job search seriously. And, it’s easy to expect that same level of consideration and sense of urgency from the hiring manager. But, like it or not, that’s rarely ever the case.
So, take a deep breath, shake that feeling that you’re the greatest gift to ever apply to an open position, and instead focus on being polite, professional, and detail-oriented. In the end, that’ll get you much, much further!
Photo of person frustrated courtesy of Philipp Nemenz/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author