Because Waiting is the Worst, Here's How to Follow Up at Every Step of Your Job Search

The job application process is a back and forth between two interested parties. Written out like that it seems reasonable enough. But somehow it always ends up feeling like you’re just constantly waiting, doesn’t it?

You submit an application. Then you wait. You’ve completed the phone screen. Then you wait. You met the hiring manager at the on-site interview. Then you wait. It seems like waiting is just part of the process, but at what point is it too much? When is it okay to reach out yourself?

Don’t fret. Here’s everything you need to know about following up during the job search: how long to wait (since it’s apparently unavoidable), and how to do it without being annoying.

1. After You Apply

So, you’d finally found an exciting job and submitted a snazzy resume and tailored cover letter. You waited, and waited, and nothing. What next?

First, do keep in mind that reviewing applications is a time-consuming process that often involves several people. The hiring team might be waiting for a large volume of applications to come in to compare them before making first-round calls.

Once you’ve given it a solid two weeks, though, it’s reasonable to attempt to check in. At this stage, the number one rule for following up is to follow directions. Trust me: Few things are more annoying to recruiters and hiring managers than job candidates not following directions.

If the posting says, “No calls,” then absolutely do not call them—even if for some reason they have a number listed.

Instead, send a quick email over to the recruiting or jobs specific email address. It might look something like this:


I recently applied for the Creative Content Manager role at CDS Corp on August 1, and I wanted to reach out regarding my application. I’m excited about the prospect of joining CDS Corp so I thought I should introduce myself anyway, but I’d also appreciate checking on the status of my application.

I’d be very interested to learn more about the position if you’re still in the search process. I have been doing content management at FGH Corp for five years, and in that time have juggled managing a number of different projects, styles, and audiences. I’d be happy to freelance a piece for CDS Corp as a test run. My full application (resume, cover letter, and samples) is attached.

Thanks and warm regards,

Feel free to follow up one more time if you haven’t heard back in another week or two, but if you still haven’t heard back after that it’s probably time to put that position to rest. And, if the directions included “Do not follow up” to begin with, then that’s that. You might be able to check in if you happen to have a close contact at the company, but otherwise probably best to just leave it be—you don’t want to annoy the hiring manager in case he or she does end up reaching back out to you later on.

2. After the Phone Screen or First Round Interview

First round interviews are often over the phone and only about half an hour. Toward the end, you should get the chance to ask questions. Aside from learning about the company, you’ll want to see what the next steps for the interview are and when to be expecting them.

And, that’s that. You’ll get a timely response and feel like this company values your time. Or maybe not. If the clock’s been ticking and it’s more than a couple days past the date they gave you for when you’d hear back, it’s time to get back on their radar. You likely have the contact information of the recruiter who scheduled and possibly spoke with you in the phone screen, so get in touch.

Hello Mr. Ikari,

Thank you again for arranging my phone interview for the Creative Content Manager role. When we last spoke, you mentioned that I’d be notified about the next stage of the interview process by August 12, so I just wanted to check in to see if there are any updates. Please let me know if there’s any additional information I can offer to help move the process along.

Thanks for your help,

Notice that this note is short and to the point. It’s easier for the recruiter to respond to one specific request, so keep it brief.

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3. After the In-Person Interview

So, you nailed your interview. You exuded charm, confidence, and competence. You even sent out custom thank you notes to everyone you spoke to, including the receptionist who kept mispronouncing your name. They gave you a date that you’d here back by—and yet, crickets.

Wait a couple more days, then send the hiring manager a quick note. One thing you may have noticed about the other two examples is how ultimately the goal has been two-fold: get information and try to be helpful. Your goals don’t change here. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes, especially now that you’ve spoken with him or her. What can you follow up with that could help?

Hello Ms. Langley,

I hope all is well. It was a pleasure speaking with you a couple weeks ago about the Creative Content Manager role. I’m excited about the opportunity to join CDS Corp and help manage the new marketing campaign you spoke about.

Please let me know if I can be of help or provide any additional information as you make your hiring decision.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Ping the hiring manager again if you haven’t heard anything in another week. It’s fairly unlikely for you to get ghosted after an on-site interview, so give him or her the benefit of the doubt and assume there are other things going on at the company other than this search.

This same step applies if you’re going through multiple in person rounds or have to complete an interview assignment. Wait a couple days after you expected to hear back from them, then give a friendly and helpful nudge. If anything, going through, say, more than three rounds of interviews makes it even less likely for the hiring manager to ignore you.

Ultimately, your goal each time you follow up is to be persistent without being annoying. To do this, follow directions, keep it short, and be helpful. It might just be the thing that sets you apart from all the other applicants.

Photo of woman waiting courtesy of Image Source/Getty Images.