For every potential job, there is a time to call and a time to sit back and wait. Use these rules of thumb to decide how much time should pass before you reach out to hiring managers.
Between texting, instant messaging, Facebook posting, Instagramming, emailing, Skyping and the old fashioned “phone call” (which seems to be going the way of the fax message), it can get confusing to figure out which medium suits the right people. But for job seekers, the idea of “when” to reach people can be just as important as “how.”
Here’s a short list of some of the accepted periods of time you can let pass before you should take the initiative and reach out. There will be exceptions, but these are good rules of thumb.
Every few months: Reach out to the people in your network, especially the ones who have helped you before or who work in companies you admire. Even if you’re not looking for work immediately, it’s important to keep these ties fresh and your options open — just in case your job search suddenly becomes urgent.
At least two weeks: The time it should take a hiring manager to finish conducting interviews for a job. If you’ve just had an interview and don’t hear back right away, definitely wait at least two weeks until you ask the interviewer how the process is going. It’s good to seem eager, but you don’t want to seem like you’re jumping the gun.
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About a week: If you‘ve had a second interview, you’re definitely high on the company’s list, so you can be bolder. If a week elapses since the second interview, it’s expected that you will call back to find out where you stand.
Two to three days: If you expect an offer by a certain date, you can allow two, maybe three days to go beyond that date. But after that, you must call and find out what’s causing the delay. You don’t want to make an ultimatum, but you also need to emphasize that your time is valuable.
Within 48 hours: If you’ve met someone helpful at a networking event, strike while the iron is hot. Get in touch with that person before the encounter is forgotten. Usually two days is about as long as most people remember those conversations, so the clock is ticking.
The same day: The post-interview thank you note should be a no-brainer, but it’s worth repeating to new job seekers. The thank-you note after an interview is an unbreakable rule – even though it may seem perfunctory to everyone involved, its absence will be felt if you skip it. You want to remain fresh in the interviewer’s mind, so why not dash off the required thank-you note or email as soon as you get home, before you forget it?
Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.