how long should you wait to move on when you haven’t heard back from an employer?

by Ask a Manager on July 27, 2012

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A reader writes:

I’ve read your thoughts on candidate time versus employer time, and have found it to be 100% accurate (and understandable — the massive priority that my application is to me is just a tiny part of the picture that the employer on the other end deals with). That being said, given how many employers don’t even acknowledge the receipt of an application, much less reply with a firm rejection, is there any reasonable barometer to interpret when the “employer time” is stretching long?

Certainly there will be some outliers who get back to you in less than a week, and others who might conceivably take months, but if you had to make a ballpark estimate, when would conclude that silence equals time to move on? Two weeks? Two months?

If I could control your brain (and the brain of every other job seeker), I would make you move on the minute after you send your application. There’s nothing to be gained by the agonizing and waiting and wondering — send the application and move on immediately. If they call, great. If they don’t, you’ve already moved on anyway.

But I know that most people won’t find that realistic. You send an application and then you wait for that contact, no matter what I say. So let me give you a alternate answer.

There’s no universal estimate of how long it takes employers to get back to candidates about their initial applications. Some employers take months to contact people. We’ve had stories here of people getting calls six months or more after applying for a job. However, in general, if it’s been 4 weeks — maybe 4-6 weeks — you’re probably not getting a call.

But I can’t stress enough that this varies wildly by employer. Employers who are on the ball will contact candidates within a few weeks (some within a few days). Others are not on the ball.

However, I maintain that the more relevant question is when you should move on because it’s better for your mental health to do so. And if you won’t take my initial piece of advice and move on as soon as you apply, then I’d say to assume that silence means “no” after three weeks or so. It might turn out not to mean that, but there’s no point in letting it take up space in your mind at that point — so move on and let yourself be pleasantly surprised if you get a call.

But really, if you want to treat yourself well, move on right after sending it. You have nothing to gain from waiting and wondering for even an hour, until there’s been an expression of mutual interest.

And obviously, regardless of when you do move on, don’t let up on your job search even a bit meanwhile. You will kick yourself later if you didn’t apply for other jobs while waiting to hear from a company that ends up never contacting you.

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric July 27, 2012 at 10:53 am

Engage several prospects in parallel. Of course, be careful not to get your companies confused as I did during one of my phone interviews.

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Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 11:19 am

Ok, I want this story, please.

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Liz in a Library July 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Oh no…I’m sympathy cringing for you.

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Eric July 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Not much to tell. I don’t think they even realized. I started bragging about my skills in PLC programming and they were like, “Oh, that’s not actually a skill that’s used much here.” I had my own panic attack, but I at least didn’t follow up with, “I must have been thinking of another company.”

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Shane July 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Could be worse. The interviewer could have asked you what you knew about the organization before you figured it out!

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Christopher Allen-Poole October 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Did the same thing once. Similar outcome.

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Sira July 27, 2012 at 10:57 am

I sent an application on May 27th and got an e-mail acknowledging that it had been received on July 6th. As yet, I haven’t heard anything about interviews, but they are clearly playing a long game. I had long moved on when I got their first e-mail and now I’ve moved on again, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear from them again in a month or so.

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Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I applied for a position last August with a company and I got an auto-response email in January (5 months to the day) saying they received my application, if it was a fit, they’d be in touch, etc.

That’s not being on the ball, at all. :)

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Liz July 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Wow!

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Student July 27, 2012 at 10:57 am

Keep applying to jobs until you get a job. Only apply for jobs that you’d actually take. If two (or more) get back to you within a similar time frame and actually express interest in you, then you might be able to get the slower one to speed up their decision timeline if you prompt them nicely.

I know a few people who have heard back about job applications months or years later. You can’t plausibly wait that long for a job, so don’t.

In my field, it takes between 1 to 2 months to actually hear back from someone. Then another month to schedule the interview, then another two or three weeks to make a decision. Then another month or more to deal with the paperwork before you can start the job. That’s about 4 to 5 months from start to finish. My field move exceptionally slowly, though.

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Blinx July 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I used to only apply to jobs that met all of my criteria… pay/skills/likeable work/ok commute. But now I’m in that cauldron of unemployment requirements, where I HAVE to apply to a minimum of 3 jobs a week. Some weeks there are very slim pickings, and I just apply to them anyway, even if I’m way over/under qualified.

After I get that auto-reply that my application has been accepted, I move on to the next one. If no one has contacted me for at least a phone interview, I usually write them off after 2 or 3 weeks. It would be pretty near impossible to wait for a rejection before applying to the next job.

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Student July 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Many people deal with that requirement by applying to jobs that they know they are completely unqualified for, so they don’t get stuck in a job that doesn’t meet their full criteria. I’m not saying that it’s a great idea, just that it’s a common strategy.

I’m at a university, and we regularly get applications for professor positions from people with a history of working as waiters or as security guards or similar. Apparently it satisfies the unemployment folks without noticeably inconveniencing the “applicants.”

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Blinx July 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

It’s a shame. On the one hand, it does encourage us to get out there and really start applying for jobs. But I’m sure it floods employers with applications that are just unsuitable, making it even more time consuming to weed out the bad ones (particularly if you’ve responded via email.) There was one job, in my town, that I was way overqualified for, but I applied anyway, and asked for a huge salary, since I really didn’t want it. I’m sure they’re laughing at my application, but what to do?

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Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

Further exacerbated by the ‘waiting for Jesus’ complex that employers seem to have these days. Let’s wait to get as many resumes as humanly possible, then we might start to think about picking one of them!

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Long Time Admin July 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm

My company cuts off applications after the first 20. Then they sift through looking for people with the qualifications required who filled out their applications the way HR wants them, and try to get a few to interview from that group. They really pressure the hiring manager to select one of those candidates.

If the perfect fit is #21, that person is out of luck. And so are we.

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Ask a Manager July 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Wow. The hiring managers in your company need to lay down the law with HR about this. That’s absurd.

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Blinx July 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Yikes! That’s every job applicant’s nightmare!!

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Charles July 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Sadly, I’m not sure Long Time Admin’s company is unusual in this regard.

I’ve been a few places where the standard procedure is to post a job on Monster (or whatever), go in the next day or just a couple of hours later; then randomly pull off about 15 or so resumes and see what you have – the others are not even looked at!

(I’m not trying to counter you AAM; but, this is sort of the reason why so many applicants don’t bother with cover letters -with this kind of nonsense it seems like the roulette table in the casino gives you better odds. But, still do that cover letter on the off chance someone actually does read it)

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Ask a Manager July 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I know there are places that do this, but they are in a very slim minority. Seriously.

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A-Gal November 14, 2013 at 1:36 am

Wow, what a weird practice. And I am sure one that hurts the employers themselves.

What industry would this be? I am really shocked.

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Generalista July 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

That’s AWFUL. I do a lot of recruiting, and in most cases it would be extremely difficult to find the right candidate in the first 20 resumes we receive.

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anon-2 July 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Wow – is that ever stupid and limiting.

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Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

This post inspired me to check on an application I submitted in May — I assume I didn’t get the position, but the job posting is still open for new applicants! The position title is “Writer” (and not specialized like a technical writer) and I don’t believe for a second that they haven’t been inundated with qualified candidates.

Jesus. [,waiting for]

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-X- July 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

“That Jesus guy we interviewed two months ago still seems to be the strongest candidate, but I’ve got concerns about his hair.”

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fposte July 27, 2012 at 11:47 am

And those open-toed shoes are a dress-code breach.

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Jamie July 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

Actually, in manufacturing they are! I would totally look the other way, because I am not signing a write up for Jesus.

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Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

If you want the universe manufactured in seven days (including time off), I’m afraid you’re going to have to live with the open-toed sandals.

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-X- July 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hmm, that makes me think maybe we should restructure it was a contract position (six days) with possibilities to become permanent if it works out. That could save on benefits for this FY.

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fposte July 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I think He’s waiving insurance anyway. He looks pretty fit; I doubt anything bad will happen to him.

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Kiribitz July 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Unless he decides to go undercover as a bum and go play skeeball in New Jersey.

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Jamie July 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Maybe we can make an exception in the handbook that they are allowed, but only if you have the power to heal thine own toes and thus avoid the work comp claim.

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Blinx July 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Do you think Jesus went “commando”, and if so, would that violate certain dress/hygiene codes?

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-X- July 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I have a related question. I’ve heard that a new hire can walk on water. I’m worried that I might be expected to do that too, but it’s not in my job description.

Is that legal?

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Sophie July 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

This whole thread is brilliant.

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Blinx July 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Said “walking on water” ability might encourage coworkers to compete and try this (yes Peter, I’m talking about you). Could lead to many on-site accidents/lawsuits, and must be firmly discouraged!

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KLH July 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I heard that the new hire turned water into wine and shared it. If true, must I write the whole division up for drinking on the job?

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Blinx July 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

ASM needs to add a “like” button to the comments!!

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-X- July 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I’m very much an introvert and don’t want to be expected to socialize over wine with my colleagues. Should I raise this with my manager? And with Him?

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Job Seeker July 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I don’t think this is very nice to refer to Jesus this way. For some of us he is our Savior and this sounds disrespectful to me.

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Ask a Manager July 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I like it. This is not a religious blog.

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Elizabeth West July 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm

If Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor, we’re all screwed.

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Pamela G July 28, 2012 at 1:27 am

I’m a Christian and I love it! We were created with a sense of humor for a reason! ;)

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Sob Jeeker November 5, 2013 at 9:22 pm

You are going to have a very hard life on the internet my friend.

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Emmy August 2, 2012 at 11:16 am

Hope you like loaves and fishes. They’re the main course at the next office potluck.

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Stells July 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I love all of you. Thank you for making my morning.

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Debbie Downer and the Negatrons July 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I don’t know, I heard he was caught working on the Sabbath, and this is in violation of our overtime policy.

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B July 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

Completely agree with Allison…after you apply move on.
I will also add that after you interview, write your thank you, and then follow up….move on. I have lost track how many times the follow up has been to string me along as the second choice, do not respond back to your follow up even after having a great interview in which they specifically say they will be calling you to come back for the second round, or when they finally do over a month later with a form letter. It seems, nowadays at least, that hr/hiring managers just do not care anymore so best for you not to. Otherwise you will be getting your hopes up and then dashed.

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Jennifer O July 27, 2012 at 11:49 am

Thank you so much for saying this. It’s what I’ve always done when looking for work and I thought I was odd to do so.

Here’s what it looked like for me in practice:

I kept electronic copies of everything associated with a particular application (e.g., the job posting/description; the cover letter and resume I submitted; research notes I may have made about the company while preparing the application). I had several folders under “Looking for work” that looked something like this:
– Applications to be submitted
– Applications submitted – waiting to hear
– Applications submitted – unsuccessful
– Applications submitted – successful

Once I submitted an application, I moved everything associated with it to the “Applications submitted – waiting to hear” folder, promptly forgot about it, and moved on to the next application.

The great thing about the system, though, was that as soon as I heard back from a prospective employer, I was easily able to find the application, the job description and any research I had done.

As Alison said, it’s a great thing for one’s mental health while job searching to not focus on something you have no control over (i.e., hearing back from the employer). Obviously, I would sometimes think about the jobs I really hoped to get. But by having this system in place, I was able to focus on my continued job search. (Ultimately landing a position that I absolutely love.)

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Jamie July 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

This is exactly how I did it, when I was looking – it makes it sooo much easier.

I also had a status spreadsheet going – so I could track everything I had out there which saved me a couple of times from reapplying to jobs for which I’d already sent in a resume.

I agree with Jennifer – it makes it so easy to retrieve the info when contacted.

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Jennifer O July 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I’m surprised I didn’t use a spreadsheet (because I usually use spreadsheets for everything). If I were to guess why I didn’t, it may have been that with a spreadsheet, I would continually be seeing all the companies I hadn’t heard back from (which I could have found demoralising). [btw - The spreadsheet-loving side of me is now trying to figure out how I would structure a job-searching spreadsheet. Even though I'm not looking for work right now. :) ]

What I did instead of a spreadsheet, though, was have a consistent naming style for my files*:
- Company – Position – job posting – due XXXXXXXX
- Company – Position – cover letter
- Company – Position – resume

Because each position would include multiple files (both the working Word and the submitted PDF files), I would create a folder for each position.

I realise it sounds pedantic and that a spreadsheet could have been easier. This really worked for me, though. And I could quickly check the folders to see if I had submitted something for that company / position.

* I’ll note that when I submitted my application to the employer, I didn’t send them the file with my obscure naming system. Rather, I changed the name of the file to simply “Position – My Name.”

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Ask a Manager July 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Jennifer, the nice thing about your system vs a spreadsheet, is that in your system the applied-for jobs are truly out of your mind — you don’t see them once they go into that folder, rather than staring at you every time you open your spreadsheet.

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Jennifer O July 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Exactly. (A succinct summary of what I was trying to say. :)

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Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Jennifer, the nice thing about your system vs a spreadsheet, is that in your system the applied-for jobs are truly out of your mind — you don’t see them once they go into that folder, rather than staring at you every time you open your spreadsheet

Column filters?

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starts & ends with A July 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Exactly.
Add a front sheet with a macro and a button if it’s really that much of a problem…

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Blinx July 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I do something like this as well — multiple folders on my computer and also in Outlook with all of my correspondence. I make a PDFs of emails, job postings, and confirmations, and add them to my folders. Then all of this data goes into a simple table in Word (I’m Excel-phobic).

For the past 6 months I’ve also been making PDFs of all postings I find interesting, wether I apply to them or not. Easy to spot hiring trends in companies that way.

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Laura L July 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I prefer folders as well for the reasons you and Alison have already mentioned.

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Elizabeth West July 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I do the spreadsheet too (way easier than the giant Word document I used last time). I color-coded it so I could highlight Nos, No Replys and Others–those are if the job was pulled, or I withdrew for some reason. I also made a cleaned-up version to take to my unemployment audit.

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V July 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm

This is my system too, and especially helpful when you’re customizing resumes for several fairly similar jobs and need to make sure you’re bringing the right copies to interviews.

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danr July 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I’m using a slightly different system. Each job that I see gets its own folder. That way the resumes and cover letters don’t get mixed up. I also have the complete history of where I found the advertisements and when in one place. I haven’t had any interviews yet, so there aren’t any updates past the applications.

And getting back to the original question… wait?? why?? I don’t have time to waste while looking. When I finally get a callback, I just have to pull up the right folder and everything will be together for a response.

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22dncr July 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I have an Excel spread sheet that lists all the Companies I’ve applied to since 1998. I have a really terrible memory so this is the only way to know that, yes, I did apply there 3 years ago (I actually had a Company call me after 3 YEARS!) I list Name of Co., position, year (for what file it’s in) and date of interview if applicable. I also then use this to track in my Word files (copy of ad, CL, résumé used, etc.) what is going on at that company – how often the position is open, what salary range, how have the duties changed, etc. Some very interesting data in there!

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Katers July 28, 2012 at 12:43 am

I would love to see a spread sheet. I’ve been wanting to do something like this but not sure where to start. (I’m more of a visual type, so..yeah)

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Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I screen resumes at my job to see who will be interviewed. One person applied for a job and I asked him to elaborate on his experience with something. No reply. Three weeks later, he applies for another position here. This system may have helped!

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Jess July 27, 2012 at 11:58 am

I’d agree that if you don’t hear anything in 4-6 you *probably* won’t hear anything, but of course, you never know.

It seems to vary wildly on how long you might have to wait to hear after an interview, too. I was just offered a job where I had applied in early March, was contacted about an interview in late March, didn’t actually have the interview until mid-May, was called in for a second interview in early July, and then finally got an offer in mid-July…3+ months after I got that first call. And in this process, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even the second choice (i.e., if I turned the job down it would have been even longer until the next guy was notified).

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Lee July 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

I have a similar system to Jennifer O. I also keep printouts of the job descriptions in a binder with the skills/tasks/important phrases highlighted. This helps me have everything on hand to spread out during phone interviews. My experience currently has been it is taking many companies about a month to begin the interview process, and then depending on the number of interviews there is an additional one to two months involved. I would much rather have the time to prepare for each stage and get to know the company well though then get hired quickly and it be a bad fit.

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Charles July 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

To add to the “move on the minute after you send your application” point-of-view.

Let’s say that you do move on and they call you. Now, you might have more than one interview going on or more than one job offer, emotionally this makes you better prepared to accept or decline an offer and to negotiate for a better pay rate, no?

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Jamie July 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I am in this camp, also. However, it can be hard when a job seems really perfect on paper and the money is good. Especially if you are out of work and really need the job, it can be hard not to idealize the “perfect” gig and if only they would just call…

I had a little mental gymnastic that helps keep the idealized thoughts at bay. I would force myself to assume that any company that wasn’t calling me back was filled with clones of my most reviled co-workers. Even thought it looked good on paper I was sure it was filled with horrible slackers with micromanaging tendencies who chewed loudly, had an irrational interest in my socks, and loved to sniff my hair every time they passed my desk because the scent of my shampoo “made them feel like they were in Hawaii.”

I’m sure the truth about all those companies without the foresight to call me was somewhere between the awesome ideal and the circle of hell I forced myself to imagine…but it helped and once they called me it’s super easy to put them back in the awesome category.

I’m very flexible with the mind-games I play with myself.

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fposte July 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

“and loved to sniff my hair every time they passed my desk because the scent of my shampoo ‘made them feel like they were in Hawaii.’”

I guess I’m hoping that’s based on a real co-worker, because if it’s not, your mind games are scaring me.

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Jamie July 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm

He was real. He was also the same guy who came by my desk every morning to see what kind of socks I was wearing and when they would be solid colored (most of the time) would pout and ask why I wasn’t wearing the striped socks he liked so much.

He used to also tell me how I should work without shoes on as I would so much more comfy in my stocking feet.

Come to think of it he is also the one who would make cat noises to me in front of customers – you know, MEOW/HISSSS with the accompanying claw swipe gesture. I had asked him multiple times to explain that and he never did. I never did learn how to respond to that with anything besides a blank horrified stare.

Compiling all his quirks like this shows he was even more creepy than I had remembered him. He also was a freaking genius at what he did and outranked me by several levels.

Oddly enough that job was so bad that his behavior didn’t even make the top 100 reasons of why I left.

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Ms Enthusiasm July 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Goodness!

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Liz July 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

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Jubilance July 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I do the “apply & move on” thing too. It’s so much easier for my sanity.

As for how long it should take, with every job I’ve had (from my first at McDonald’s to my current position) the timelines have all gone pretty quickly. For my current position & my position before this one, I was offered the job the very next day after interviewing. So now my own superstition tells me that if I don’t hear back about an interview quickly, I probably didn’t get it. That also helps me stay sane.

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Alisha July 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Agreed…same with me. The only exception has been three mega-corps, which took several months from the time I was headhunted or applied to the final interview rounds (and if applicable, background check and offer). I worked for one, passed on the second, and mutually agreed I wasn’t a fit with the third.

But since I tend to prefer working for companies of under 100, the process goes fast – weeks, not months – if they want me.

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Mary July 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Great point about moving on and continuing to apply. I recently decided to move to another city, and I found a job within the university system (i.e. still the same employer) that seemed great. Then I found another job that seemed ideally written for me. Rather than just waiting on those two, I searched in earnest for jobs. I tracked them all with a spreadsheet and ended up applying for 18 jobs. In the end, I accepted a position with an third company that wasn’t even on my radar until I started the massive job search. So far, I like the work and people, and I got promoted after 3.5 weeks, too!

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Liz July 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

You got hired in a new city after applying to 18 jobs?Congratulations!

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Yvonne July 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I had the first phone interview, which went really well. i was told I would be contacted after the 4th. Nothing. I waited an extra week and then contacted. Nothing. I have moved on, but I find it quite rude to say you will contact and then dont – especially after what I perceived was a great interview.

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Blinx July 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Although aggravating, not being contacted leaves me with just a sliver of hope that I still have a chance. Months ago I had a great interview, followed by an OK phone interview with an out of town manager. Bam! I heard the very next day that I didn’t’ get the job. Definitely moved on!!

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Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Eh, I just kept an Excel spreadsheet of the jobs I applied to that detailed the title, company, if it was full/part time, what site I found it on and how I applied. I then saved the job description in a Word document with the title, company name and date. It was pretty simple.

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Job Seeker July 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I really appreciate Allison’s advice on this post. Between reading this blog and her book I have gotten so much good information. I am starting to do a lot of things she has suggested. After I apply to a job I think I really would love, I am not letting up on searching. I really appreciate all the encouragement and advice everyone shares here. I especially like the idea of keeping a spreadsheet of jobs you have applied to. I am going to start doing this. Thanks.

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Anonymous July 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Alison, with your advice, I got a job offer on Thursday! I accepted it and I’m still waiting on the offer letter and have a start date. It got held up due to meetings and I should receive it on Monday. As you say, don’t think you have the job until you have the offer letter in hand. I’m taking that advice to heart!

One question I do have–should I cancel an interview I scheduled for Monday? I had scheduled it before I received the job offer. I should have a job offer letter by the EOD tomorrow, but until that letter’s in front of me, I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket. Would canceling that interview be wise?

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Anonymous July 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Btw, to contribute to the discussion, I found my wait time for responses was either less than 3 days or about 3-4 weeks.

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Ask a Manager July 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Congratulations! This is a question of risk management — if you are very confident that you’re going to receive that letter on Monday (especially if you’re the one who asked for a letter and it’s not a normal part of their process), and that you’re confident you’re going to accept, cancel the other interview.

But if there’s any doubt about either of those two, go on the other interview. Especially since it sounds like you haven’t accepted the offer yet. (If you had accepted and they somehow heard you were still interviewing, that would be bad — but if you haven’t accepted, that’s a non-issue.)

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Anonymous July 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I really have none. I emailed my new boss about it and she said the person who handles that was in meetings and I would have it Monday and to let her know if I don’t receive it. It appears to be a sure thing, bu you never know!

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Kat M July 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I once sent in a resume to a company I really wanted to work for, and then didn’t hear back for a month. They’re a really great company, and there was only one position open at the time. I figured they had filled it, and moved on. Two and a half months later I got an email from their recruiter, wondering if I still wanted to work for them. It turned out they were opening a new facility much closer to where I lived, and were about to have 40+ new positions to fill! :)

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Matt July 27, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I’ve kept printouts of each job posting, the resume and cover letter I submitted, and any email conversations I’ve had with the employer in a 3-ring binder. The physical copy let me give myself permission to “forget” about the ones I’ve applied to and move on, because I can refer back to it if needed. Out of sight, out of mind.

38 applications later (and those are just the ones I’ve kept after deciding to track them all), I got a job! In another city, where I’ve been hoping to move for a few years. I applied in May, and got called for a phone interview two months later. Everything moved pretty quickly after that.

Now I need to figure out what to do with this huge binder of job postings and such… It’s scary to look back and see how awful my resume and cover letters used to be.

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AK July 27, 2012 at 9:14 pm

The real question should be, “How long to wait until you move on after an interview?”

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Ask a Manager July 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm

I’ve addressed that one in an unsettling number of posts — check the “job search: following up” category in the archives.

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Vicki July 27, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Same answer :-)

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littlemoose July 28, 2012 at 12:38 am

I kept a spreadsheet of all the jobs to which I applied, with dates and responses. And I did have one job for which I applied in maybe January, and I got a phone call from them in about July asking about an interview. Thankfully by then I was employed full-time, but given that my under-employment lasted 18 months, I very well could have been hired on a 6+ month timeline.

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Karl July 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Alison’s “immediately, or three weeks” advice makes sense. A couple years ago, I focused too much on a company that seemed really interested, before they disappeared on me. I lost a month of active searching. I won’t make that mistake in future job searches.

As I advise people looking for jobs — The odds of at least one job working out are pretty good. But the odds that any one specific job will work out are pretty low. Don’t expect any one application to pan out.

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Tami M July 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Ok, how about this one, folks?

I applied for a position and was granted an interview. The employer is a State Govt. entity, if that helps. After the interview, I was told the final decision was made elsewhere, and that it could take 30 days or more for a response.

It has been 32 days, as of today. I did call them 11 days ago, (with their permission), and was told they weren’t allowed to say anything, and that it was a very long process, but that they would get back to me.

I’m really excited about this position, and would love to hold out for it, the main reason being that they rarely have openings, and if I pass it up, it could be a very long time before I got the opportunity again.

My concern is that I can’t afford to be unemployed. I’ve submitted several other applications elsewhere, but I’m half afraid to, because if I get offered a job, what do I do if the State calls with an offer? To me, it just isn’t right to tell an employer how loyal you are, and how excited I am about the job, only to quit 2-3 weeks later.

I’ve been told by someone who actually worked for them, that it ‘does’ take a long time, but if I haven’t had a denial by now, it could be a good sign. What should I do? What are the pros of waiting or cons of moving on?

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inkhat July 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I once heard back from an employer six months after I applied! I had already moved across the country for another job. They wanted an interview!

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anon-2 July 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm

A fellow IS/IT professional – who had been entrenched in the same position for a number of years — but is now “in the street” – asked me this question. After a few weeks, one major computing company called him back and said “they were interested”.

He asked me “how long should I wait?”. My reply was simply – “Don’t. Keep applying to other places and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. They may never hatch in that one basket.”

And — if you should get one offer from one company — oftentimes (you have to understand the psychology of hiring managers) it will spur another company to extend an offer. It sounds weird, but it happens.

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Chi August 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I am so glad I found this website and read this post because I dealt with this problem this past two weeks. I went on two great interviews where one of the interviewers said I am a great fit and I should hear something about moving forward before the 30th of July. I was very happy and excited that I at least got one of the jobs I interviewed for. Well, I guess something changed because I didn’t hear from them until today and I didn’t get the job. I did everything I was supposed to do after the interviews (Thank You letters, emailed & called after the 30th)

Indeed, I have learned my lesson that nothing is guaranteed even after a great interview and to move on after sending the application. My mental health in the past two week went downhill so quickly my Dad and sis thought I was depressed. At the end of the day, I asked myself, “what did I wait for – a rejection call?” I have wasted two weeks of my life waiting for call and I was not even hired. I am starting over again with this advice in mind – Thanks!

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Tami M August 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Chi,
I can feel your pain. If it helps any, I’m sorry you had to wait for so long, only to find out you weren’t hired. I too went through a similar situation, in that I waited over 30 days (I was told it could take that long), only to get a form letter rejection. (at least we got a responses, right?) Like you, I had a good feeling about it, and actually passed on some jobs because I REALLY wanted this one.
Next time, I’m going to apply, follow up in a week or so, and leave it to God. I feel so stupid for getting sucked in.
From here on out, I wish you all the best, and hope you remember that you’re time and experience are not worth putting in someone elses hands…in order to move forward. :)
Good Luck, Chi! :D

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Chi August 5, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Thank you for your kind words :) and I’m sorry that happened to you too. I found out that HR hired someone within the company but It’s all in the past now. From now on like you, I’m going to apply, if I get an interview then Thank you letters and leave the rest to God. Thanks again and good luck to ya!

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Waiting October 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Here is my situation:
Applied Online: Aug 4th
HR Called: 20th Aug
1st In person interview: Aug 28th
2nd Phone interview: Sep 16th
3rd in person interview: Oct 8th

Sent a follow up email on Oct 21st. No response received

I read the comment to move on, but kind of difficult to move on :)

I think I could be a no. 2 candidate on their list but I am sure the hiring team won’t tell me that. Or may be they are just slow in making a decision. Just can’t let it get off my mind. I feel if they don’t want to hire then they should let me know. Hope I get it…

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jobless February 12, 2014 at 4:36 pm

I interviewed for a job and got hired. My new company told me to put my two weeks in at my current job. Now its the end of my two weeks and I’ve called twice about orientation and now they’re waiting for a couple more things to happened before orientation date is set. I’m worried that they are just putting me off. Should I look for employment elsewhere? Is this even legal to tell someone to do and then not hire them after they quit their job?

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Paola April 22, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Wondering if anyone can assist me on this…
I’m on leave of absence at the moment but looking to reintragate into the company again.

Apply for a position, got an email from the hiring manager the same day stating she had received my resume, will review it and contact me back. It has now been two weeks (I know not a long time), but I’m debating on whether I should move on and contact my previous manager regarding a possible position available for me (may I mention is across town in which I was not happy with ) or contact the hiring manager and see how it pans out?

Any suggestions? I feel like time is running out!

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