Following up with a potential employer can be one of the greatest challenges in a job search. Most jobseekers anguish over the timing and the frequency of checking in with recruiters, human resource professionals, and managers. Many jobseekers prepare and leave numerous phone messages and send emails—trying to show diligence and hoping that they are not a nuisance. If someone actually picks up when they call, it is unexpected and can be unsettling.

As you ponder your situation, the questions may seem unending: Should you reach out? Phone call or email? What should you say or write? How much is enough? What is too much? Should you remind your audience about your intense desire for the particular job in question…or maybe tout your unique qualifications? Will it make you look good, or work against you?

It can be exhausting.


Here are some guidelines and tips to help you respond appropriately and with less mental traffic!

Tips when a potential employer calls you:

If you receive a call from a recruiter or hiring entity, it can be unnerving. Most often, these calls are unexpected. As soon as the caller identifies him or herself as a hiring professional, your emotions may spike as you wonder if you will receive good news or devastation. It’s an overwhelming situation.


  • Remember: Although recruiters may call to deliver a rejection, it is rare to get a rejection call from a corporate HR person. Most rejections come by email. So a phone call generally indicates that the hiring process is moving forward or it could signal a possible offer.
  • Have paper and pen ready to take notes. While on your jobsearch these tools should have a permanent place by the phone. If you have listed your cell phone, then consider having materials ready in specific places where you might receive a call. This includes your car.
  • If you happen to be in the grocery store, or other pubic venue, consider letting the call go to voicemail. It is simply not the place to receive a call and contend with background noise, and increase the likelihood of a misunderstanding or missing a critical piece of information.
  • Before accepting the call, intentionally put your emotions on hold.
  • Listen carefully and take notes.
  • Make note of the phone number and confirm it with your caller.
  • Reiterate the message to ensure accurate information.
  • Be especially clear on any action items and the timeframe.

Rules and Tips when YOU contact them:

When you applied to a position and received an email response with a name:

  • Unless requested otherwise, immediately respond with a short note that acknowledges the email.
  • Connect with that person on LinkedIn if possible.
  • After one week or 10 days, simply call or email and ask if an update is available. The email should have not more than two lines.

When you have a phone or face-to-face conversation with a hiring professional:

  • EVERY time it is a critical success measure to ask about appropriate follow up. Exceptions to this rule are rare. When you connect, simply ask something like, “As I’ve learned more about this position, I’m even more interested in it. What are the next steps?”
  • You need the following information:
    • When is it helpful for them for you to follow up?
    • What is their preferred means? Email? Voicemail?
  • Your message should be easy, light and positive.
  • ALWAYS wait two extra days before making contact with them.

Follow up after an interview:

11 summary points for following up:

  • Reaching out is a good thing – as long as your demeanor and tone communicates a spirit of helpfulness and simple honest inquiry. I remind my clients all the time, “Keep it light, easy, and short.”
  • Avoid being an annoyance.
  • Avoid exuberant, demonstrative pleas.
  • Maintain a warm, conservative, professional demeanor.
  • Keep all inquires easy and non-confrontational.
  • Manage your emotions.
  • Avoid any indication that they “owe” you some kind of update.
  • Avoid ANY expressions of negative emotions: frustration, anger, etc.
  • Call or email approximately once a week, or every two weeks – use good judgment.
  • Refrain from calling your contact at the company to ask for updates on the position unless they requested that you do so or the timeline for the next step in the process has lapsed by two business days.
  • I routinely encourage my clients NOT to make ANY assumptions and to remain optimistic and allow an additional week from the projected timeline if they haven’t been contacted. (Yes, an additional week!)


When NOT to follow up:

Especially when a hiring professional promises to get back to you and they don’t, it can be extremely frustrating. It’s also tempting to call them and remind them that promised to get back to you. This can quickly get you eliminated from consideration.

When a hiring professional makes a promise to respond within a certain timeframe, they are giving the candidate their best guess and sincere hope for the timetable for the process. I always tell my clients to wait another week.

Reasons for the delay might include:

  • The remaining candidate interviews were delayed.
  • A key approver became ill or was called to manage a business predicament.
  • A critical skill set has been identified that was left off the job posting.
  • After considering the candidate pool and reconsidering their situation, the company has decided to go in a different direction.
  • An unexpected hiring freeze halted the process—temporarily or indefinitely.
  • A merger or acquisition opportunity is being considered.

Critical points:

  • Somehow, email and phone messages capture our frame of mind and emotional tone. Therefore, if you are feeling frustrated, impatient or are in a negative frame of mind—do not reach out! This is NOT the time to connect.
  • Avoid any verbiage that accuses your contact, such as, “You told me your would get back to me and I haven’t heard from you. That was Tuesday and now it’s Thursday.” Even with the most upbeat tone of voice, this kind of message may get your candidacy dismissed.

This blog is a companion to a previous article: Are you waiting to hear back from an interview?

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