Hi. A friend referred me to a patent law office, where he works. I had what IMHO was a very upbeat and frank interview with the CEO. The next day, I emailed my references and a writing sample. A week later, I received an email stating, “We have not forgotten you. We are thinking about whether and how we could fit you into our practice. I will let you know when we have decided what we want to do.” It’s been 8 days since I received that email. Should I attempt a follow-up? Should I ask my friend if he knows anything about my candidacy? Thanks.
To help provide some insight, I reached out to a couple colleagues of mine. Chris Fields is an expert resume writer and human resources consultant who assists job seekers with their resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and job search over on ResumeCrusade.com. Lars Schmidt is the founder of Amplify Talent, an employer branding and recruiting optimization consultancy based in Washington DC. Prior to launching Amplify Talent, Lars was the senior director of talent acquisition at NPR where he was responsible for providing leadership and advocacy for talent acquisition strategies that align with NPR’s strategic mission and core values.
Should candidates interpret sending over their references as a sign the interview went well? Why or why not?
[Chris] If asked for your references, you should absolutely take that as a good sign. You’re probably a finalist. However you should not assume you have the job. I often tell my resume clients, ‘You don’t have job until you have an official offer.’ That means until they call and negotiate salary and benefits, there is no deal!
[Lars] Generally a request for references is a good sign. Most organization only ask if you’ve passed the initial interview vetting, and they view your candidacy positively. It’s not a guarantee of offer, but it’s an indication they’re feeling favorable enough about your potential to get more insight.
Let’s be honest, some companies don’t follow-up with candidates. What should a candidate do if they haven’t heard from a company?
[Lars] This is not an absolute rule, but in general, if a company is really interested in a candidate they will follow up. Some are slow. Sometimes there are other internal factors that may prolong the feedback process (additional interviews, shifting priorities, bandwidth). Good recruiters will keep candidates in the loop throughout this period, but you could be working with a mediocre one or a hiring manager without much awareness around why candidate experience is so important. I generally recommend to follow up once if you don’t hear back after a week. If no response after a few days of your inquiry, chances are you may not be under consideration.
[Chris] Waiting is the hardest part. And every situation is different. On one hand you don’t want to seem disinterested but on the other hand, you don’t want to be bothersome.
I’ll present 2 situations. If you were referred for the position and no one contacts you, follow up through your referral. If the referral has no information, then contact the hiring manager and ask for a status update. Now, if no one contacts you back, just let it go. If they want you, they will contact you. I had a client apply for a job with a Fortune 100 company, didn’t hear a word back for 3 months, then all of a sudden, an interview and an offer.
2nd scenario: If you apply for a position and get absolutely no contact, not even an email stating that they have received your application, then I’d send one follow up email. But after that, I’d let it go. Many of the recruiters that I talk to do not like to be hounded about a position. You must remember, they get plenty of resumes, calls and contacts per job opening. Also, there are always other influences in the workplace which could interrupt the process.
How long should a candidate wait before assuming that they aren’t being considered any longer for the job?
[Chris] It’s interesting; many times a candidate is advised that the process will take a certain amount of time. So be sure to listen to the recruiter or hiring manager when they mention time frames. If they don’t give you a time frame, ask for one. There’s nothing wrong with asking, ‘How long does the selection process take?’ Now if the process extends past that time frame, it’s okay to contact them for a status update.
I’d say that, after a month or two, you should consider that either something has changed internally at the company or that you are no longer a candidate.
You should never put all your eggs in one basket anyway, so your search should be ongoing until you find the job you want. As I mentioned earlier, regarding the client who got a call after 3 months of no contact, he did not wait for them. He continued to look and actually had started another job.
[Lars] It’s generally a good idea to ask about the interview timeline and next steps in the interview. If you don’t hear back after a week, follow up with the recruiter (unless they set expectations for a longer feedback timeline). If you don’t hear back from your inquiry, chances are you may no longer be in the running.
In this note, the candidate mentions being referred by a friend. Should the candidate tell their friend what’s going on? And if so, when?
[Lars] Yes – they may not have the insight, but it can’t hurt to ask. Just be sure to thank them for referring you in the first place and don’t be pushy.
[Chris] Yes they should. If you have a friend or connection you definitely should ask them for help. Sometimes referrals have influence, sometimes they don’t. You have to consider the referral’s position and their relationship to the hiring manager as well. But yes, use your connections to your advantage. You have to network to get work.
My thanks to Lars and Chris for sharing their experience and expertise. You can read more from Lars on his blog and follow him on Twitter. Chris writes for SmartRecruiters.com and PerformanceICreate.com. You can connect with him on Twitter at @new_resource.8