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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

Here's How Long You Should Wait to Follow Up at Every Point in the Job Search

Yusun Chung/EyeEm/Getty Images
Yusun Chung/EyeEm/Getty Images

You submitted an application for a position that you know you’re a perfect fit for. You meet all of the requirements and the “nice-to-haves,” and you’re feeling confident that you’ll hear something back from that employer in no time.

But, two days pass and your inbox remains empty. Then, a week goes by—still nothing.

“I should follow up,” you tell yourself, while refreshing your inbox for the hundredth time that day.

But, then you’re struck with a realization: You don’t know when you should send that email. How soon is too soon? How long is too long? What’s a reasonable timeframe to ask for an update while tiptoeing on that line between persistent and pesky?

Well, that depends. So, I chatted with two experts to get the lowdown on how long you should wait to follow up—wherever you are in the job search process.

An Important Reminder

Like it or not, recruiters and hiring managers are busy people. Yes, filling the open role that you’re interested in is somewhere on their to-do lists—but, so are many other, far more time-pressing things.

Before getting frustrated and assuming ill intent (I promise, that hiring manager’s goal isn’t to make you miserable!), remind yourself of the fact that this process often takes time.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are processes and procedures that need to be followed in order for companies to bring on a new hire,” explains Al Dea, Muse Career Coach, management consultant, and career strategy Author.

These procedures might slow things down for you. But, ultimately, they exist so that the company can make a thorough and smart hiring decision.

With that in mind, here’s when you should follow up with the company—depending on your current situation.

If You’ve Submitted an Application…

The Short Answer: Follow up between five and 10 business days.

This depends on whether you’ve applied blindly or were referred to this position by somebody in your network.

“If you applied blindly, you are somewhat at the mercy of the company and when—and in some cases, if—they choose to respond,” says Dea. If you feel like you absolutely need to check in on your status, be prepared to wait a reasonable amount of time before sending that email.

“The standard follow-up procedure is five to seven business days,” explains Susan Mozian, Muse Career Coach.

What should you say in that follow-up message if you do choose to check in? This template can make that part easy.

However, if someone referred you, your best bet is to check in with that person directly after seven to 10 business days. “In your communication, underscore your interest and that you certainly understand things could be busy, but that you also want to know if there is anything else you can do—even if that means continuing to wait,” says Dea.

If You’ve Gone Through the Phone Screening…

The Short Answer: Follow up the same day.

You went through the very first phone interview, and things went well. You’re eager to know what’s next. And, fortunately for you, you don’t need to wait long before checking in!

“I would follow up the same day after a phone screen to let the recruiter know that you enjoyed the conversation, appreciated their willingness to speak with you, emphasize your interest in the company and role (provided that’s true!), and acknowledge any next steps you both talked about,” explains Dea.

If You Had an In-Person Interview…

The Short Answer: Follow up the same day or one day later.

The timeline for following up after an in-person interview is very similar to that of a phone screening. You know you should send along a genuine “thank you” for the hiring manager’s time, and it’s best to combine that with a follow-up message.

In your email, state that you appreciated and enjoyed the chance to interview and learn more about the company. You should also make sure to highlight your interest in the position once again and let the hiring manager know that you’re looking forward to connecting again soon.

Here’s a template that can help you write that email.

If You Received a Dreaded “I’ll Let You Know When I Have an Update” Email…

The Short Answer: Follow up after at least five to seven business days.

You went through the interview process, sent your “thank you” email, and then heard nothing but inbox crickets for a few days. Then, you received that dreaded message from the hiring manager.

You know the one. It says something like, “We’re working on sorting through candidates. I’ll be in touch when I have an update.”

Groan, right? But, as much as you want to check in every hour on the hour after that, you’re better off resisting the temptation.

“I think it’s important to respect the process that the company and recruiter set, even if that means you have to be patient,” warns Dea.

With that being said, there are two circumstances when you can send another email:

  • If you’ve received an offer for another job, it’s perfectly reasonable to reach out to this hiring manager and let her know you have another offer you’re evaluating.
  • If you’ve waited a reasonable amount of time with no update, you’re justified in checking in. “It’s a subjective matter, but I wouldn’t start thinking about sending another email if you haven’t at least waited five to seven business days for a response,” says Dea.

It’s really a judgement call. But, in many cases, it’s your best bet to take the hiring manager at his word and rest assured that the company will reach out if and when they want to move forward with you.

Read More:When Will I Hear Back After a Job Interview? Why Is It Taking So Long?

Knowing exactly when to follow up can be tricky. But, Mozian offers a piece of advice that can help to take a lot of stress out of the process. “The candidate should always ask the interviewer—even during a screening interview—what the next steps are in the process,” she explains.

Do that and you’ll have a much clearer idea of what’s happening behind the scenes while you’re compulsively refreshing your inbox. Not only does that give you greater peace of mind, but it can also help to inform your decisions about when to check in—and when to just stay patient.