Job hunting can be tedious, and waiting to hear back after submitting an application is perhaps the toughest part.
The hiring process takes time and you may not hear back right away, but there are ways to follow up to check the status of your application and make good use of your time while you wait.
On average, how long does it take to hear back after a job application?
Per a 2018 report by Jobvite, job seekers (im)patiently wait for an average of 38 days to hear back after submitting an application.
But that’s not a hard and fast rule—the average time between submitting and application and hearing back varies by industry, company size, number of applicants, whether they have a recruiter helping out in the search, how quickly they need to fill the role, and a myriad factors that don’t necessarily have to do with your qualifications for the role.
When and how should you follow up on a job application?
One week after submitting your application is generally an appropriate amount of time to wait before contacting the hiring manager or recruiter. In terms of how often you can follow up after that, read the room. Pinging the hiring manager daily or even every few days won’t help your case. Give them time to work through the hiring process.
“If you’re submitting to a person via email, I would suggest emailing a week later to confirm that they received your application—unless they already responded with a timeline for their search process or with instructions to not follow up until contacted for an interview,” career coach Cynthia Pong tells InHerSight.
“Emailing to reiterate your interest in the position or organization after another two weeks would be fine. Beyond that, use your judgment and your sense/read of the situation to determine whether it’s worth following up further.”
How not to follow up on an application
Don’t indiscriminately reach out to any contacts you can find. Your follow-ups should be directed at a specific person who can answer your question.
“If you’re applying through a portal, it will likely be difficult to identify who to follow up with,” Pong says. “So unless you have a connection to someone at the organization (via LinkedIn or through your friends or network), then you might not be able to follow up.”
If you get the feeling that you’re pressing too hard, listen to that. “In general, if you’re getting the sense that you are annoying the person and that following up will decrease your chances of getting an interview, then don’t!”
A few tips for following up after applying
If you’re applying for a lot of positions, it can help to keep a spreadsheet that tracks all of your applications with the company, job description, date you submitted the application, and notes about follow-up instructions (or a request to not follow up).
Keep your follow-up short and sweet: I’m writing to follow up on my application for the market researcher position. I’m very interested in the position and would love the opportunity to discuss.
Don’t go trolling LinkedIn for a contact that’s not listed in the job description. Going over a recruiter directly to the hiring manager can come off as irritating—and you might not get the right contact.
How to make the most of your time while you wait
While you wait: Keep applying. Keep cultivating your network.
“Keep yourself busy with other applications and leveraging your network. Time will feel like it’s moving faster that way,” Pong says. “Much of job searching is a numbers game, and it’s increasingly important to see if you have any connections to an organization so that people can put in a word for you.”
Pong emphasizes the importance of using your network to land a new job. “The sad truth is that most people are still more likely to trust and hire someone who’s been recommended by someone they know, which means greater barriers of access for women, women of color, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks. That being said, if we don’t leverage our networks, then we stand to lose out to white men, who definitely will.”
About our source
Cynthia Pong, JD, is a feminist career strategist, speaker, and author of Don't Stay in Your Lane: The Career Change Guide for Women of Color (forthcoming Summer 2020). A LinkedIn Top Voice for Job Search and Career, she is frequently sought out to provide highly relevant, super applicable, easy-to-understand career advice specifically for women of color.