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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

April 4, 2017

How long should I wait to follow up after a job interview? I was told I’d hear within 2 weeks, but it’s been 3 and I haven’t heard anything. What should I do?

Julie Q. Brush

The Follow Up: “Is it too early to call? Should I wait until the end of the week? They said they would call and they haven’t yet. Maybe I should give them a few days? I don’t want to be too pushy. But I don’t want my candidacy to fall through the cracks either. Ok, I’ll call tomorrow…or, wait, maybe the day after tomorrow is better…”

Determining the appropriate time to check in with an employer is part of that “good judgment” aspect of being a good candidate. A follow up should never be aggressive – in messaging or in frequency. The dynamic also requires a lawyer to read the tea leaves and move on if an employer’s silence becomes deafening.

If you’ve been told that you will receive feedback regarding your candidacy in two weeks – and that time has passed with no call or email, it is acceptable to follow up with the employer shortly after the two week mark has hit (as early as 1 day after). If you choose to wait longer, that’s acceptable too. But I do not advise following up before two weeks. You’ll come off as annoying and a bad listener. And that will compromise your candidacy.

When you do follow up, your message should be pleasant and gracious in tone – and not a demand for information. Example:

“Hi Sarah, I hope all is well. I wanted to check in regarding my candidacy for the VP of IP opportunity. I interviewed a couple of weeks ago and my interest in the position remains high. I’m sure you are very busy – but any update on my candidacy and the status of the search would be very much appreciated. Many thanks!”

So, now you’ve followed up…and the crickets are still chirping. How long do you need to wait until you contact an employer a second time? A good length of time for the second overture is between 10-14 days. And the tone of your second message should continue to be gracious.

After two follow-ups and no word, I recommend that you refrain from further contact – as the silence is a strong indicator that the employer has either (1) hired another candidate, (2) zeroed in on a candidate they like and are focusing on that person, (3) put the search on hold; or (4) the search is moving slowly and the employer is still in the early stages of interviewing. Regardless of the reason, the takeaway is that the employer has no interest in moving your candidacy forward at this moment. This could change, or it may not. But this is a signal that it’s time to move on to other great opportunities.

If you simply can’t stand it and feel compelled to follow up a third time, I recommend you wait another four weeks. This time stretch mitigates the risk that you will be perceived as too aggressive or pushy.

The Follow Up is part of the job search process that still receives attention and scrutiny. So consideration of the right protocol is important. Remember, everything you do as part of this process is a reflection of you – whether you get the job or not. So be mindful of this and stay on your game from start, to what might end up as…the quietest of finishes.

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