As college students prepare to enter the “real world,” we take on one more title before becoming full-fledged members of society: Job applicant. After countless hours spent scavenging the internet for job postings, we pour our hearts out into an application that presents us as unique, professional and personable.
All of the labor that goes into finding and applying for a job can be justified by the hope that we will be granted an interview and hopefully offered a position. While the converse of that — having a potential employer tell you that you didn’t get the position – can be harsh, it’s even more frustrating to not hear back at all. Silence from a potential employer after submitting a job application or after completing an interview is the most excruciating first part of entering the job market.
Employers should be more upfront with job applicants about what to expect in the hiring process. One way for employers to combat this would be to send an automatic email response to all applicants, informing them that they will only hear back from the company if they move forward in the hiring process. This eliminates any confusion about whether to follow-up with a company after hearing nothing in response after submitting application.
It can be tempting to want to email potential employers to check-in on the status of an application, but it’s hard to decipher the appropriate time to take action. Amine Qourzal, senior director of operations and finance for Baylor career and professional development, said students can follow a general timeline when determining whether or not to follow-up on an application.
Qourzal said students should keep in mind the difference between the application stage and the interview stage. In the application stage, employers could get thousands of applications and can’t be expected to have the resources to reply to each candidate. An automatic email response would help clarify things for applicants in this case.
Qourzal said it’s normal for a month or two to go by before receiving any feedback in the application stage. After two months, it is safe to assume another candidate has been selected.
However, the rules change a bit if an applicant has made it to the interview stage, Qourzal said. Since that interview indicates increased interest, students should always follow-up after the first interview with a handwritten thank you note to reiterate interest and thank them for their time.
If applicants don’t hear back in two weeks, Qourzal said it is okay to send a follow-up email to reaffirm interest in the position. Sometimes job seekers don’t hear back from employers because of internal issues like HR hiring freezes and other administrative aspects applicants may not be aware of. Ending the email by asking employers if there is anything further the applicant can provide such as more recommendation letters, puts the ball in their court and may give the company an impetus to clue you in on the reason for their silence.
If another two weeks go by without a response, Qourzal said that’s a safe indication that you have not progressed in the hiring process.
“Follow ups are not bad. They demonstrate your tenacity,” Qourzal said. “They demonstrate your willingness to follow through and follow up.”
Job seekers have the power to follow up on their application, but they also should be allotted more transparency. It is common courtesy for companies to contact individuals who have gone through the interview process, even if they didn’t get the position. This allows candidates to move on to other job opportunities knowing they have closure with other possible positions. Furthermore, if interviewers cannot guarantee when the interviewee will hear back about the position, they should not give a timeline they can’t stick to. This would allow candidates to refer to Qourzal’s timeline and give them a better indication of when to follow up and when to assume they didn’t get the position.
Transparency in the hiring process is crucial for job applicants, especially college students who may be applying to many positions at once upon graduation. Employers should work to ensure clarity in the applicant’s progress in the hiring process. At the same time, students turned job applicants should feel confident enough to follow-up on positions they feel passionate about.