do I look uninterested if I don’t follow up with companies where I’ve applied for a job?

A reader writes:

I was hoping you could settle an argument I’ve been having with a friend. I’m trying very hard to mentally move on from all jobs that I apply to, so I never contact a company unless it’s in response to them contacting me first. (So I never ask if they received my application, I don’t follow up after interviews if I haven’t heard back from them by when they say I should hear from them, etc.) I figure that if a company is interested in me, they’ll contact me regardless of if I contact them or not. I don’t see any benefit to following up.

My friend says that by not contacting companies, especially after I haven’t heard from them after an interview, I’m making myself seem uninterested, bad at communicating or disorganized, and even if they had been interested in me and perhaps got too busy to contact me when they said they would, my apparent disinterest (or bad communication or disorganization) would make them change their mind.

Your friend is wrong, wrong, wrong.

The vast, vast majority of employers do not want to receive follow-up phone calls and emails from applicants. If they’re interested in interviewing you, they will contact you. After an interview, if they’re interested in hiring you, they will contact you. If you insist on following up and asking for their attention, you will annoy them.

Now, yes, there are some employers who are so disorganized that calling them can be enough to get them to look at your application when they otherwise would not have. But these employers are the minority, and they are also the very ones who you do not want to work for. Employes who are so disorganized and chaotic that they make hiring decisions based on who nudges them are not good places to work.

As for the notion that employers will assume that you’re not interested if you don’t follow up, or that you’re disorganized or bad at communicating … no. If you apply, they know you’re interested. And they aren’t assuming that you’re disorganized if you don’t follow up because they don’t want you to follow up. Why would they?

The only exceptions to this are after an interview, if a few weeks or more have gone by*. The onus really is on the employer to get in touch with you at that point, but if other priorities get in the way and the hiring timeline gets dragged out, there’s nothing wrong with checking in (by email, once) and letting them know that you’re still interested. That’s a situation where some hiring managers really do start to wonder if you’re still interested after so much time has gone by, and it can be helpful to let them know that you are.

But that’s it.

Tell your friend he loses this argument.

* And of course, post-interview thank-you notes, which yes, you should be sending.

{ 117 comments… read them below }

  1. Yes I AM a librarian*

    I would agree with you as a hiring manager…


    I interviewed for my first library job. I waited two weeks, called hr just to see what the hiring time-line was (pre-email) was put on hold for twenty minutes. Person came back and said yes, we want you can you start Monday (large urban system) I gave my notice and worked nights at my old job and days at the new one for two weeks.

    Present position. on line application. nothing. no response. Four months later followed up with an email that just said- I understand if my application was late in the process or that my qualifications didn’t meet your needs but I did notice that there has not been an announcement that you filled this position. (big deal job in my field) Got an email reply the next day inviting me for an interview.

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      I got a part-time job this way as well – it was some weird test to see which candidates “wanted it the most.” However, that job ended up being the worst job I’ve ever had, so I think Alison’s right: it was a sign that they were disorganized and a bad company to work for.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, but they presumably would have called you to offer you the job anyway if they’d already decided they wanted to hire you. If you’re saying that they made that decision on the spot because you called, that’s terrible hiring and usually indicative that there will be other dysfunction there.

      1. Austin Product Manager*

        Yes, I entirely agree with AAM. Is it possible that you’ll get an interview / job on the spot when calling or writing to inquire about an application? Yes. Is it likely that’s going to be for a dysfunctional organization? Very, because good companies don’t make hiring decisions based on who nudges them.

        1. Yes I AM a librarian*

          no, having worked there for five years. The HR department WAS disorganized. They had just gotten funding for over 60 jobs. They were calling people back from lay offs and they thought they had called me and assumed I wasn’t interested because I didn’t call them back.

          Job two- I don’t know if they would have called me if I hadn’t contacted them (I am not brave enough to ask my director) My CV may have been kicked off the pile because I didn’t have the prerequisite job requirements. (looking from the inside now that seems likely)

          1. Yes I AM a librarian*

            okay… I am not brave enough to ask my director but I will ask the chair of the hiring committee. He has become a spectacular mentor to me.

          2. A Bug!*

            The problem with this sort of “worked for me” anecdote is that it doesn’t really translate into “best practice.” It’s not advice that can be used to consistently produce good results at such an early stage in the process, and there’s no way to identify those circumstances where it will.

            Further, if everyone starts doing it, then most of the suggested advantage (of standing out and showing initiative) disappears entirely, and offices waste hours upon hours of time dealing with unnecessary phone calls.

    3. aebhel*

      I had a similar situation at my job (also a librarian :P), although not quite that abrupt. I wonder if it’s just something about civil service jobs–or even library jobs in particular. It’s a wonderful place to work, but their hiring process is all kinds of whacked.

  2. NK*

    What about an email thank you note after an interview? I always follow up with one within 24 hours of an interview (but otherwise follow all the advice you’ve given here).

    1. Sharm*

      I would imagine a thank you note after a full-on interview is still totally okay and appreciated.

      From my perspective, I interviewed a few candidates for a position recently, and didn’t get a single thank you from any of them. I interviewed them in tandem with my boss, who didn’t seem to care, but I personally found it odd.

      At my last job, lack of thank you notes were ALWAYS remarked upon. I don’t think not sending one prevented anyone from getting a job, but I will say the ones we hired had sent thank you notes.

    2. Adam*

      I also send thank you notes. They’ve always been mailed but I think I’ll just be using email if at all possible the next time around. My notion on thank you’s of any kind during the job search process is that they’re rare from what I hear. So if you send a professional thank you note you are going to stand out if for no other reason than most people don’t do it.

      Now a thank you note is never going to make up for a lack of necessary skills/experience, a botched interview, and all the things required to get you a job in the first place, but when it comes down to you and another equally qualified candidate, a simple thank you may prove one more valuable point in your favor.

      1. CAA*

        Yes, use email not snail mail. I once got a paper thank you note months after a position had been filled. Looking at the postmark, I could see the candidate had sent it on time, so I have no idea where it was for all that time. I can’t say that my getting it sooner would not have made me choose a different person to hire, but my getting it so late definitely didn’t help the applicant.

        1. Meredith*

          Right, so many interviewers say they like to see handwritten thank- you notes post interview, but I always worry that they’ll just get lost in the mail. Some recommend even writing the thank- you note while in your car immediately after the interview, and then drop them off into the company mailbox yourself. But I want to actually take the rest of the day to think about the conversation so I can really think about it. I always stick to email thank- you notes and it tends to work out for me.

    3. Stephanie*

      Nah, that’s different. You’re following up after having initial contact. I believe the letter writer is referring to following up on some application that went into some HR ATS void.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I just added a footnote to the post; I hadn’t realized it wouldn’t be clear that I was putting thank-yous in a different category.

  3. MR*

    So can we finally drop the notion of sending a thank you note after the interview?

    It can be impossible to send one anyways, especially if the interview is never done in person.

    1. CTO*

      Why would we drop that notion? A thank-you note right after an interview is completely different from following up to check in on a job you never even interviewed for.

      And I have yet to interview for a job where I didn’t have at least one main person’s e-mail address or phone number (or could figure it out easily).

    2. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I don’t really get the point of them. I do see it can reiterate interest, but they always feel forced and salesy if you don’t really have anything new to add from the interview.

      I send them anyway, just in case I’m interviewing with someone really old school. But a lot of the time it does feel like I’m repeating the exact same things I just spent an hour or so saying in the interview.

      1. Dang*

        I have to agree here. I send them, but I actually dread them more than the interview itself.

        1. Stephanie*

          OMG, yes. I dread them, too. I had an interview where I had seven different interviews with everyone on the team. Sending out seven of those was horrible.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            Then you send ONE thank you (by email) to the hiring manager/team lead and ask that person to convey your appreciation to the rest of those you interviewed with. That’s an easy email forward.

            1. Stephanie*

              Reason I ended up sending out that many was because I had seven back-to-back interviews where we talked about different things in each. There also wasn’t really a specific team lead (each functional area had a different manager) and I’d be working under different people, so I’m guessing this was the reason for the multiple interviews.

          2. Anonna Miss*

            I am with you on dreading thank you notes. It seems like half the time, I meet half a dozen or so people, and only two remembered to bring business cards. For the rest, I heard their name, but have to guess at the spelling and/or how they fit in with the company’s email convention.

            It’s no fun guessing the email for Robert James “Call Me Jim” Williams, III where the convention is or Jane Smith where it’s I should probably follow College Career Counselor’s advice, and ask that my thanks be forwarded, but I’ve always worried that asking that kind of favor was a bit presumptuous and made me look lazy/unorganized, even when the issue is that I didn’t get business cards from everyone I met.

            As an interviewer, but not the final hiring manager or decision maker, I feel awkward receiving thank-you notes. Often, the meeting to discuss your candidacy started two minutes after you left, and your emailed thank-you note arrived after a decision was made, and you wasted your time.

            I don’t want to encourage a candidate that is about to be rejected, and I don’t want to tip off candidates that are likely to get an offer, but approvals are needed and they are supposed to hear it from someone else. So I’m one of those that doesn’t reply to thank-you notes.

            1. Stephanie*

              Yeah, in college, I heard the advice to send physical thank-you notes to “stand out.” I got an email like two months after the fact from a manager like “Oh, thanks for the note. Our mail is really slow, so that’s not always the best way to contact us. You have really nice handwriting, by the way!”

              Ha, I feel the opposite with finding out emails, like I’m being stalkerish almost that I dug through LinkedIn or professional association websites to get your email.

              Yeah…I find thank-you emails just kind of go into this void. At best, I get a brief “Thanks!” reply.

                1. Stephanie*

                  Ok, true! I’m not even sure if a manager could respond too much at length without possibly leading the applicant on.

            2. Zillah*

              Personally, I don’t think it’s a waste of time to thank someone for taking the time to interview you, whether or not they’re giving you anything else… IMO, it’s just good manners.

              1. Harriet*

                Thank you notes after interviews aren’t really done where I live, and I have to say that I’m struggling to see how it is good manners. In an interview, each party is trying to get something from the other – the interviewers are trying to find out if this is the right person for their vacancy, the interviewee is trying to find out whether this is the right vacancy for their person. Nobody’s doing a favour, so why would either party thank the other?

                1. Zak*

                  I think it’s unnecessary. It was only a meeting. The applicant takes time and pays travel to get there.The company interviews candidates during paid working hours. That means they are just doing their job! A thank you note straight after particularly when you don’t know what their opinion is of you can lower your value. Remember even if you are offered a job you still have salary and benefits to negotiate so no eager beaver behaviour yet. It makes you seem nice, wimpy and as if you are sucking up to them. It is their job to woo you if they want you. Not yours to beg to be picked.

            3. Stevie Wonders*

              Due to the lack of business cards, when I do serial interviews, I ask each interviewer to provide their email address, so I can send a note later. No one has refused me yet. But for panel interviews, sometimes the hiring manager was default option, since asking for separate emails there seemed awkward.

      2. Sadsack*

        Think of it as thanking the interviewer for her time, and telling her that your discussion reinforced your interest in the position (as long as it is true!). Maybe briefly explain that you now have a better understanding of something that you discussed. There has to be something of interest that was discussed, or else why are you interested in the job? If you cannot reflect on the time you sent with the employer and find something worth commenting on, why should she hire you?

        When I applied for the job I currently have, there were 7 other candidates, all of us with the same experience in this particular field. I was told after I was hired that mine was the only thank you note (email) that my interviewers received. It wasn’t the main reason I was hired, but it certainly made me stand out in a good way.

    3. John*

      I had a candidate (to whom we did not make an offer) send me such a great, personalized note that she will forever be on my radar screen.

      It can be a powerful opportunity. Don’t waste it. But that also means not wasting it with generic pablum.

      1. Ruffingit*

        It would be cool if you could share the note, though I understand if you don’t wish to do so. I’d love to see a good example of a thank you note.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yes, please. Mine always feel like I’m trying to hard sell them Cutco knives or something, so I’d love to see one that exemplifies showing interest and “selling yourself” without being sycophantic.

          1. Joey*

            If you do what most people do (just say you’re really interested) it isn’t that compelling. But showing interest in something very specific that benefits the company usually is. To me though its not only about sharing your interest, it’s about communicating that you understand the job(warts and all), that your specific skills and track record lend themselves well to succeeding, and that you have a better picture of the team/corporate culture and embrace or live their values. To me it always helps if they are written in plain speak. Using buzz words or formality detracts from the genuineness of the message.

    4. Just a Reader*

      The thank yous for my current position opened a great dialogue that included heavy hints about hiring me and next steps. They didn’t go into a black hole at all and I think they helped my candidacy.

  4. belle*

    I got my best job ever by following up. When you have candidates that are all equally qualified. the candidate who shows interest for the position pulls ahead slightly. The manager had given me his card, so I called him to get an update. I realize this is risky, but it worked for me.

    My friend also got a job by following up.

    1. Zillah*

      But it seems to me that you can’t know that you or your friend got the job because you followed up. You followed up, and you got the job, but there might not be the causal relationship you seem to think there is. Maybe they just hadn’t called you yet, or would have called you regardless.

      1. Zak*

        @ Zillah I agree. They normally give out a business card when they like you. Why else would they give you their contact details? Same as when they say call me if you have any questions in the meantime – somebody from HR should be in touch soon etc. You seem not very job clued up!!

  5. Domi*

    My impression has always been that follow up with the company directly (or asking when the manager is in to drop of a resume personally) is more mainstream or accepted in entry-level positions or in the service industry (restaurants, grocery stores, retail stores, etc). While I think this should still be annoying and inefficient from a management perspecitive, it does seem to increase the applicant’s chances…

  6. E.H.*

    OP: Job hunting is like dating. You don’t forget to call/text someone after an amazing first date. An employer isn’t going forget to call a person with an amazing resume/cover letter. My only exception is retail. Even with inside references (friend works there), I still had to hound down people at local big box store to get an interview. When I do apply for retail jobs, I find I only get an interview if I’m on their toes constantly, but that’s just my experience.

    Now I have a question for the rest of the readers, since I’m in a similar boat. Do you have an suggestions on how to explain this to parents who mean well, but give you overly aggressive/out-dated advice and expect you to follow it 100%? I’m half tempted to print this out and show this to them, but I’m trying root out any passive aggressive behavior I have.

    On the off occasion I give in for the sake of household peace and follow up, I get the typical “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” That is something I fully expect. I have a feeling that they think I’m not aggressive enough in my job search because I’m not following up every ten seconds (an exaggeration, I know, but that’s what it feels like people constantly ask about your search), but I’m also concerned that my mom might be using the same tactics she expects me to use, which I imagine is hurting her too.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think it would be passive-aggressive to say, “I appreciate your input on this, but I’ve done a lot of research into this, and what I’m finding is that this convention has changed. If you’re skeptical, here are some articles that confirm that what you’re suggesting will actually turn off employers.”

      1. E.H.*

        You’re right, it would be about how I said it. It just when my mom approaches the subject, she gets very anxious (anxiety runs in the family) and comes off as very combative. This, in turn, puts me on the defensive, where it makes it very hard to remain calm. It often ends up as a non-productive, bordering on toxic conversation. There are times where I feel like blurting out, “What exactly do you think I’m doing clacking away on the computer all day?” (Hint: it’s writing cover letters). The way you phrased it is perfect, Alison. I just have to learn how to keep my composure and not let someone else’s anxiety trigger mine.

        At your suggestions, however, I’ve found a volunteer position that uses some of my professional skills. I’ll be writing descriptions for pet adopts for a pet rescue. I’m sure that’ll calm the waters for a little bit, and help me keep my sanity. I’m also part of a group that’s starting a book club, but I don’t think that would be something to mention to a potential employer, would it?

        1. Ruffingit*

          There’s also just not engaging at all as in “Mom, I’ve heard what you have to say on this topic. I do not agree and do not wish to discuss it further.” And stick with that. If she does the “yes, but…” thing you can just repeat “I do not wish to discuss it further.”

          I totally get your frustration, my father is exactly like that. He’s concerned about things and gets a critical tone like I’m just a total idiot if I don’t do what he thinks I should do. I’ve finally stopped giving details about certain things and if he starts in with his Instructions on How to Do Everything Right (trademark), I just say “I’m not going to discuss this with you.” I’ve had to repeat it often, but it does work if you just refuse to engage.

          It’s totally OK if your mother doesn’t get to tell you for the hundredth time what you should be/need to be doing. She’ll survive if you don’t engage and life will get much easier for you.

          Again, you totally have my sympathy. High strung clueless parents are a huge frustration. We love them, but man they are tough to handle sometimes.

    2. E.H.*

      I just realized I said OP and not LW. This shows how much time I spend on Imgur/Reddit, which is apparently too much. I wish there was an edit button!

      1. Meg*

        Fellow redditor here. OP spans more than just redditsphere. I would use OP and LW interchangeably without a second thought.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      When talking to parents, I would explain that things have changed and Hiring Managers have stronger boundaries. What was once “showing interest” is now being immature and desperate. (I’m talking about parents that want you to call every day or drop off a resume every week.) Immature that you don’t understand how the hiring process works, and desperate that you are demanding answers instead of waiting for them.
      If you were applying for a sales position, you may get away with aggressive sales tactics, but that is a skill to the job.
      It’s better to not risk gimmicks or being aggressive. You don’t know anything about the Hiring Manager, and the “annoying applicant” will definitely be remembered.
      It is best for parents to be supportive, and let their job seekers judge each situation as it comes.

    4. Stephanie*

      Another way I think job hunting’s like dating is that past a certain point, things are up to serendipity. I think a lot of the terrible advice in both instances stems from people wanting to take control of situations that can be largely up to chance.

      And, ugh, I’m in the same situation with my folks. The advice others have suggested is good. I’d be sure to thank them for the advice first. It’s easy to dismiss suggestions (especially if they’re not great) and forget that the advice-giver is well-meaning and/or may just not be as knowledgeable as you.

      1. E.H.*

        I know they’re frustrated, because it’s my frustration too. I grew up in the 90’s and I remember being told, “College (unless you want to be in the military) is your only option, because it’s your best option.” I remember thinking as a kid I’d be on my own by my age, in my own place, with a million cats. I know I’m in a very big boat surrounded by people in similar situations, but it’s hard some days not to feel guilt.

        I know they feel like they might be giving me ideas I might not have already thought of, but my dad hasn’t had to look for work since the early 2000’s and my mom is just very old school. She doesn’t get that when the market changes, so too does her strategy have to change.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’m in the same boat, so I understand. Ditto with my folks–my dad got into his current role via an internal transfer (and was headhunted into his previous role back in the late 90s) and my mom snagged her last job about nine years ago.

          1. E.H.*

            Small world, right?

            My dad has been working for corporate for a big home store. He’s stable enough to the point where he’s considering getting a master’s degree for his position, and if they move there’s a decent chance they would consider letting him work remotely.

            My mom is an x-ray technician. She started out with general x-ray, but eventually went into mammography. She’s had to navigate through the “new” job market as I call it, through varying degrees of success. The medical industry around here seems to be going through some growing pains. Going back to general x-ray would open up new opportunities for her, but she says she doesn’t want to go back to general x-ray. She’s close to 60, so the way she thinks/does things is very much tied to how she grew up.

            This is back when you had to show you had interest for a job at a particular company, because an employer knew you had options. Back then, calling to follow up would’ve been seen as ambitious, not annoying. Telling her that now people would see her as immature and impatient for following up would short circuit her brain, methinks.

  7. Alex*

    I wonder if this is a case of how things should be vs. how things actually are. As others have said, following up has worked for mein iinstances where I don’t believe I’d have been as successful had I not followed up. Ymmv?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depends on what type of manager you want to work for. I’ve literally never been swayed by a follow-up (other than to be annoyed or turned off, depending on how it was done). On the other hand, disorganized managers who reward aggressive flash over merit might be swayed. You don’t want to work for them, though, not unless you want aggressive flash to be valued more than merit once you’re on the job.

  8. Joey*

    Well I agree mostly but I really think thank yous shortly after an interview are underrated. If they’re well written I think they really can help reassure the hiring manager that you really are interested and have a clear picture of the role and what it takes to succeed.

  9. Kai*

    THANK YOU. My coworker and I had a disagreement about this last week (both of us are looking for new jobs). He told me that I need to be following up very soon after applying and ask about timelines for interviews, so that I can get a sense of whether or not to move on from that potential job. But I mentally move on from every job I apply to. Nice to be reassured!

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yeah, you are smart to move on from every job because at some point, the following up would take more time than the job hunting (that is, crafting cover letter/resume). Even if you’re applying for two jobs a week, which would be a low number if you’re really doing a hard search, that would be 8 jobs a month you’d be trying to follow up just to ask about interview timelines? No, that just seems like a huge waste of time to me. And who knows who to even contact half the time? Most jobs I’ve seen/applied for recently are online applications with no known contact anyway. It’s only after you get an interview that you even have a clue who you might contact that could actually be helpful anyway.

  10. anon for now*

    Oh. My mother keeps pushing me to follow up, always, like a couple days after each step. I’ve backed off from that partially out of laziness, and it didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. I wonder how many job opportunities I’ve shot down from being too persistent. I’ve never called multiple times but I did think you were supposed to “check in” a few times to show interest and get updates. At least this time my laziness might be helping me?

    1. another job seeker*

      I was also pushed to follow-up regularly after job interviews by a coworker — she said to check in once a week. I regret following her advice; it was a great company and I think the HR rep will pass on my resume for future jobs because I was too persistent.

      It amuses me how this post-interview dance between interviewee and interviewer/HR is similar to dating. So much conflicting advice due to different personal experiences. Trying to gauge what the other party wants while remaining genuine.

    2. Mcfly*

      I think you’re fine here, laziness is definitely working in your favour! The only time I think “checking in” is appropriate is if its been a surprisingly long time or they promised to get back to you by a certain date and that date has past.

  11. athek*

    I think there is also a lot to how people follow up. I wouldn’t care if you sent me an e-mail reinforcing your fit and skills for the position. But I get people that want to come by and talk or call and then they have nothing to say other than “I’m here/calling to follow up.” I don’t want to be put on the spot and I don’t have anything to say to you. To me, that’s just a sign of taking bad advice and not even doing it well.

  12. Dang*

    With the exception of one time, I send a thank you know if I have the interviewer’s information, and that’s it.

    There was a job I really wanted that I interviewed for back in October. They said I wouldn’t hear for a few weeks, but in January I contacted them again. The response was that they hadn’t resumed the search yet. I still haven’t heard, and to my knowledge, the position still is still Open. That has been my only experience with following up after the fact, and I don’t think I would do it again.

    1. Rachel - HR*

      You shouldn’t give up on following up. Sometimes things hold up the hiring process after the first level interview. By following up, you’re showing you’re still interested. I’d much rather have someone follow up after the interview if I haven’t contacted them in the time frame I said I would (which is rare).

  13. Fiona*

    I was just having this same argument the other night with the hubs regarding a recent application – it’s been almost a month since I applied and a couple weeks since they closed the posting to new applicants. I was bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t heard anything yet, and DH was all “why haven’t you followed up yet?” My response was that in addition to it being bad advice (per AAM), it also seems beyond enthusiastic and into stalkerish territory to track down (or make a wild guess at ) the hiring manager’s email when the applications go through an ATS. Not to mention that I’ve checked out his LinkedIn profile more than once and follow him on Twitter. If he pays any attention at all, he knows I’m interested!

    Semi-OT: this ATS is sneaky and evil – they’ll tell you how many other people applied and whether your app has been viewed, but only if you pay out the wazoo for it.

    1. James M*

      One of my mini-hobbies/interests is web app monetization schemes and it sounds like that ATS is “”Free”” for the company because it tries to pull money out of the applicants instead.

      Unless you think the ATS is an outright scam, just try to ignore the touted “value added services” because they’re exactly not.

  14. Legal jobs*

    I only follow up twice: (a) the thank you note and (b) final note about timeline questions if the timeline is vague. I agree they will contact me if they want,

    I think anyone truly interested in me will not see this as a problem and I would consider it to be a red flag if polite, brief and time appropriate follow up were seen as rude.

  15. Jubilance*

    I think this is one of those pieces of advice where it’s going to depend on your level, the industry you’re applying to, etc. There’s just so many factors. There’s a big difference between dropping off an application at Express & then following up with the manager, and submitting your resume to a Taleo-based system for an open position where you have zero contact information for the hiring manager.

    I can see where following up may benefit you – service type roles that still us paper applications & getting hired is about getting in front of a manager/owner; when you have the hiring manager’s contact information and maybe you’ve been encouraged to apply; etc. The majority of my job applications have been in Taleo systems so I don’t think I would have even had a way to follow up, unless I’d already been interviewed and then wanted to get a feel on when they would make a decision.

  16. Andrew*

    I agree with your friend, but only in cases where you’ve actually had an interview, and they haven’t followed up when they said they would.

  17. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’m reluctant to follow-up after applying or interviewing. Exceptions include (1) interview thank-you notes, (2) if I get another offer, and rarely (3) if the interviewer has missed their own deadline. For #3, I mean cases in which the interviewer promises to call me on a certain day but they don’t.

  18. AnonAthon*

    I almost feel that you can answer this by putting yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes: would you want a barrage of phone calls and emails from job applicants? Would you make choices based on who left multiple messages to ask whether you received the application? Really? Or would you want applicants to respect the process that you set up, especially considering that you have plenty of other duties that are not hiring? (Thank-you emails after an interview are different because, to me at least, they serve a clear purpose. The interview goes both ways, and I want to make sure the candidate is still feeling interested!)

    1. Rachel - HR*

      Exactly! I got an angry email today from a candidate asking why we’ve never called and getting indignant about it. I just responded that she should read the FAQ on our website that states we do not respond to individual inquires, blah, blah, blah. Well, that person wasn’t on my radar before but now I have note about her attitude in my ATS.

  19. Anonymous*

    …anybody else notice the friend was a “he”, couldn’t help but laugh, especially since just read the link to the article on why everyone is a female from the other comments section

  20. Sunflower*

    Following up before and after an interview are 2 totally different things in my book.

    Don’t even try to follow up if you didn’t get an interview. What exactly do people think this is going to accomplish? ‘Oh they emailed me. Even though their skills aren’t what we are looking for, they seem interested so lets call them!’- No that won’t happen.

    Emailing after an interview is different. Obviously they think you are qualified for the job if they interviewed you. If I was a hiring manager and the timeline I gave the applicants passed, I’m not going to email everyone with an update about how things are moving slower than usual.

    Also notice that EMAIL is stressed. Don’t call. Everyone in this day and age knows email is perfect for questions about things that aren’t time sensitive. The hiring manager has 100 other things on her plate and putting her on the spot by calling her and asking about timelines seems inconsiderate.

    1. A. Nonymous*

      Email is my inclination, too, but I’ve seen advice that suggests the phone is better since emails can get ignored. I worked with a career coach for a bit and we always disagreed on that.

      To me, that seems a bit hard salesy for something non time sensitive. I know I found unexpected phone calls distracting since (a) it’d interrupt my train of thought and (b) I worked in a really quiet office previously and it was hard to have an extended conversation at my desk.

  21. Positivity Boy*

    I often see retail/service jobs being the caveat to this policy. As someone who had to field these calls frequently in retail (I supervised our hiring coordinator, who only worked about 10 hours a week and therefore they often got transferred to me when he was out) they are just as annoying there. You don’t need to call and confirm we got your application – it’s all done online, it’s not like your owl may have been intercepted by a Death Eater. We will really, really call you for an interview if we need someone to fill a position and you’re a good fit for it. Really. I promise. We aren’t just leaving half the store unstaffed because we forgot to look at the hiring site and pull candidates for interviews.

    I always saw this as a negative because it shows the person doesn’t respect processes, especially the ones that would call back multiple times even after they were told we would contact them when interested. Shockingly, we DO have other things to do other than speaking to you, and you trying to monopolize my time and adjust my priorities for me does not endear you to me. It makes you think you will be a huge pain in the ass to work with.

    1. De Minimis*

      When I worked retail I always used to hate when people came by to “follow up” on applications. We were instructed not to call the supervisor or managers. When people hadn’t applied yet it was easier because we were able to just tell them to apply online, but after they applied and would want “status updates” it was tough to come up with ways to get them to leave.

  22. Meg Murry*

    I think the only other appropriate follow-up besides thank you notes would be if a current employee recommended you apply to an open position at their company. In that case, sending them an email or phone call saying “Hey, I applied for that job you told me about” would be a good idea, especially if the other person gets a referral bonus for recommending you. Chances are the current employee would say something to the hiring manager about your application, and I’ve found personal recommendations like this the best way to get a real person to look at your application for more than 2 seconds.

  23. ND*

    Wow, good question and interesting answer. I used to always follow up if I didn’t get a confirmation of receipt to a job application, and all it did was give me a bit of peace of mind that I reiterated my interest.

    Allison answered my question a while back about how many interviews are too many for one place — I ended up having four, and I sent thank-you notes each time. But then they never responded to me and I never followed up.

    A couple months ago, I was asked to do a three hour writing assessment as a first round for a job application. I worked hard on it and submitted it on time; they never responded and I never followed up either. Wonder if I should have in that situation.

  24. EB*

    One thing is that if you are going to follow up on a resume submission, (as opposed to a thank you after an interview) make sure that you read the ad. We specifically put in our job ads “no phone calls, please” and when people call after that it comes across as a lack of attention to detail or an unwillingness to follow instructions.

    1. Joey*

      I hate when I see that. To me it comes across like you don’t want to be bothered with even a legitimate inquiry.

      1. De Minimis*

        For me it would depend on how much information was in the ad.
        If a key piece of info is missing [like salary range] I think it’s unreasonable to not be willing to answer questions–although I can understand a smaller office in a tight job market not wanting to encourage phone calls from applicants.

        1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

          For me, I don’t mind if someone calls and asks a question about one of our positions… but because I am usually on the phone all day and tend to miss a lot of calls, I do prefer e-mail so in my adds I always ask to be e-mailed with any questions… of course, I still get a lot of phone calls, but at least with my e-mails I can answer questions after hours or between appointments. So that’s just my opinion… I would suggest a quick e-mail rather than a phone call. Especially if your question is just that you want to know if your resume went through.

      2. EB*

        The problem is that I’ve never gotten a phone call with a legitimate inquiry. The only ones I’ve gotten have been people calling to “follow up” on their application without a specific question. Our application process is pretty straight forward– no crazy online forms, just e-mail us a cover letter and resume. The people who have had questions have e-mailed and gotten a response.

  25. Anon*

    How about this:

    Applied twice (yeah, twice) to a small local nonprofit. Got an email about 10 days after second app for a phone interview. It must have gone well – I got another email requesting an in-person interview about a week later. Had to submit a writing sample and references prior to interview, and the interview itself was a 2.5 hour “working interview” during which I also had to give a presentation based on some information they provided. They told me they hoped to be making a decision within two weeks.

    ***Note: This job has been open for months. I asked about that, and they said they’ve been unable to find a “good match.” This job, although a bit of a stretch for my experience and skill set, is basically perfect for me.

    About a week after the interview, I hear from 2 of my 4 references. They were sent questionnaires via email. A few days after that, a third ref was contacted, and they wanted hers returned within 48 hours. (My one ref told me it was a pretty standard set of questions but lengthy, took her about 45 minutes to complete.) I’m thinking, a decision is imminent! And signs are positive!

    Also-I know all my references were positive – and 2 of the 3 even mentioned how I seemed to be a “perfect fit” !

    And now, another week later, and approaching 3 weeks post interview….silence. I followed up via a BRIEF email yesterday, and no reply. It’s making me CRAZY. I mean, why contact my references like that? Why leave me hanging? It’s cruel. And to have little if any recourse….sad face.

    1. Zak*

      You will learn job hunting is like dating. Date 1, 2,3 ,4, 5 + so on everything is great. Then silence. Date disappears. Why? Crap happens. Stop setting yourself up for this. Clearly the fact you only have this one job shows you are not applying to enough or the right places. Just because you do everything an employer tells you does not mean they will give you the job. It just tells them they could have you if they want. However if you make them want you but have other options believe you me you will end up with more than one offer and you won’t be anywhere near as desperate as you are. At present you care way too much. You’re giving this one employer so much power and fantasizing about this role which they don’t sound like they’re in any hurry to fill. Bad sign.

  26. Yes I AM a librarian*

    okay. here’s the skinny. For the job I have now the followup was meaningless. The hiring committee plucked my revised cv from the pile with no input from anyone.

  27. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    I don’t mind if applicants call me with questions, but I do get annoyed with too many follow ups from the same person. One follow up e-mail is plenty. I think that recruiters and hiring managers should let a candidate know either way if they have come in for an interview, but sadly (from reading this blog) I realize that this isn’t always the case. I once had this candidate who was interested in a position which we didn’t have available at the time. For about 3 months he e-mailed me asking for an update on a weekly basis. When I politely told him that he didn’t really need to do that and that periodically checking our job board for open positions was what I recommended, he got really mad at me and said that if I was any good at my job that I would be providing him with weekly updates…um this was a position that wasn’t even available and was not going to be available in the foreseeable future. what was my follow up supposed to say “hey Bob, here is your weekly update, the job you want is still not available, have a great day”. He was obviously an extreme case, but my point is that you don’t want to overdo the follow up. One nice e-mail is usually sufficient and actually can look really professional to a hiring manager who has just interviewed you. It probably isn’t going to be the deciding factor on who is hired, but I think a follow up thank you note after an interview is a nice touch.

  28. K*

    I think following up after applying doesn’t even work all that well for retail/food service. When I was younger my parents told me to keep calling some places after I applied, and not knowing any better, I did just that. Those places never called me in for an interview.

    Once I applied to a diner, gave them a follow-up call about a week later, and they asked me to come in right away for an interview. I had to spruce myself up fast and run out of the house to catch a bus, speed walk another mile because the bus didn’t go all the way there, and I still didn’t get that job.

  29. EE*

    Yesterday I applied to 2 recruiters and had really been thinking about following up tomorrow. One person was listed as the contact and I e-mailed her directly because we had met a year ago. No reply. For the other recruiter, I telephoned because there truly was missing info on the ad. She told me to apply through the system if I was interested, I thanked her and went and did so. Also nothing.

  30. FRanomynous*

    My sister recently had an interview where she was told “we like proactive candidates so we would like you to call us back in a few weeks if you’re still interested”, implying that it was a “bonus point” for candidates. While there is no certainty that THEY ARE interested in her!
    It stroke me as odd and a lack of respect for the candidates: while I understand they want motivated candidates, the company ultimately makes the decision, and basically they are keeping hopes up for pushy candidates that may not be suitable for the job, and may lose perfectly good candidates who are not comfortable with follow up calls (I am not).
    This is for an engineer job, not sales or anything were you need to assert yourself on the phone…
    On the other end I am perfectly fine with contacting the employer after an interview to withdraw an application, when you know for sure that you won’t be a good fit for the job, or that you won’t take the job if offered for whatever reason (it happened to me a couple times).

  31. Betty*

    I have to disagree with the last piece of advice. I work for a university that uses an online resume screening tool. I called the hiring manager to let her know that I had applied. She had to manually push my application through to the next round because apparently I didn’t use enough keywords on my application to automatically get through. I ended up getting the job. My brother applied to the same university a few years later and a similar thing happened to him. He now has a job at the university.

    You could argue that our applications would have eventually made their way to the next round but why chance it?


    Was turned down for same job in which I was hired three months later by following up. I was told they were waiting for someone with the exact, skill for skill, that they needed. I politely inquired as to why they have not found one yet as it has been 3 months into the hiring process (mind you I have had about 4 phone interviews and visited the office 3 times as this point). The hiring manager said that one lady was qualified but never showed for the interview, Manager said, “so they are out there.” Well still out there apparently! Anyway, I had same experience but different industry and that was their hang up. I inquired one month later to find out of they were successful and I was asked if I was still interested and then got the job with that very same phone call!

  33. Tara T.*

    A person should send a thank you card or e-mail soon after the interview – within a few days, because the interviewer took time out of a busy day to conduct the interviews. No further follow up is needed, because anything further would be being a pest.

  34. Audiophile*

    I’m curious what people think about following up when you know people at the company you applied to. For instance, I’ve applied a few tomes a t companies where I’ve known some of the staff personally. Sometimes it’s following up with them in person and asking them to check on the status, the two times I did it, I wound up with general phone interviews. I make it clear that I’m not expecting anyone to ‘get’ me a job, I just want to make sure my resume was received because I didn’t always get an email.

  35. Pennalynn Lott*

    I would say the rules about following up might be different for sales positions, especially lower-level and/or consumer-facing sales positions. Managers at that level tend to think that salespeople need to be proactive and assertive, and assume that how they handle the interview process is how they’ll handle their interactions with potential customers. I think this is wrong, but I’ve seen past managers pass on hiring someone because they weren’t assertive in their follow up.

    Btw, I have rarely seen this in high-level B2B sales positions (where the base salary is at least six figures), but more in the $20-$50K range. Managers of folks in that range seem to still have a “used car salesman” mentality.

  36. MissD*

    Ugh! I hate when well-meaning people insist you have to make a complete pest of yourself to get a job.

    I follow the once and done advice. If I don’t hear back after a phone or in-person interview, I wait one or two weeks and then email asking about their hiring timeline and let them know I’m still interested. That’s it. Period. It’s good to close the loop, but you need to move on.

  37. HRDirector*

    As an HR Director who does all the hiring at our organization. I feel that an email thank you after an interview or a thank you card is a nice touch.
    It won’t guarantee you the position but it doesn’t hurt.
    Sending it within 3 days of the interview is preferable.
    Also it demonstrates the interviewee’s writing skills to us.

  38. rkgau*

    I would be more likely to trust your advice if your article did not have typos (typo’s?). I do have to agree, as constant phone calls from potential candidates tend to eat into everyday work responsibilities, but checking in, in a respectable manner, is something I would advise. If you want it you have to work for it, and submitting a resume and cover letter is not the end of the road, provided that any further contact is sensibly conducted.

  39. JH*

    i’m having this weird thing happen where

    ill apply to a job
    theyll email me back saying they’ll call me to schedule an interview
    both times they never called!

    can you follow up after that???

    1. Huggy Bear*

      You can absolutely follow up after that! They might have been testing you. Actually, I always see that as a good thing because they left it open. They gave you an “in” and now you have an excuse to initiate a follow up call. You can explain to them you received an email saying they’d call to schedule an interview but no one ever did and you’re calling to check the status of that.

      They’ll most likely schedule an interview with you on the spot unless there was some other reason they decided not to call you (i.e. funding for the position was cut or they decided the position was no longer needed or they already filled the position etc.)

  40. Sandra Dee*

    Many employers won’t send you a rejection notice depending on how their system is setup and how their hiring process works. The thing is if you tell everyone in your applicant pool they weren’t hired and things don’t work out with the person that you did hire now you can’t just move down the list to the second best qualified applicant since you already told them they weren’t hired. Telling them they weren’t hired then calling them in for an interview confuses the applicant and comes across as being disorganized. You’ll have to build your applicant pool again.

  41. Bobby Jones*

    It can be a good thing to wait for an employer to reach out to you. In fact, that’s MY test for them. It’s a confirmation that THEY really want YOU. It’s a good feeling to know that someone actually wants you. That they were impressed by your experience or whatever. That something about you stood out to them or was so desirable to them that they decided to pursue you. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and gives you confirmation that they want you to be part of the team and you weren’t just the pity hire brought on out of desperation or because they pity your lack of experience or something.

  42. Al*

    I have honestly been fretting over the idea whether to follow up or not today.
    I had a phone interview with my dream company’s recruiter that went really well. She emailed me a basic skills test and stated “you don’t have to get this done right away, I know we have a holiday this weekend, so sometime next week is alright” I heeded this advice and waited til the day after the holiday to do the assessment thinking that it would probably be a better timeline for her as well. BUT since it had been around a week since we last spoke, I debated about sending a quick follow up. I chose to, but made it very short and concise, and just stated that I completed the test and in a short sentence expressed my continued interest. I hope I made the right, non annoying choice!

    I tried to keep the tone of the email more informative and communicative as opposed to a plea for “CALL ME BACK PLEASEEEEEEEEEE” Lol

  43. Stevie Wonders*

    Over the last several decades I’ve read conflicting advice about this, one camp saying it shows interest, another saying it makes you look desperate. Sure enough, the few times I tried following up (many years ago), the hiring managers seemed annoyed at my display of “enthusiasm”. I’m sure that would be more so today.

  44. merce*

    Honesty in my line of work, they do not care about the Thank you note, Is just more paper work, everybody is very busy. But I wonder if an email thank you note has the same effect as a handwritten note. Recently I went to interview, the person said we let you know in 3-5 days, they have not, I think also in their part is bad. I no longer am interested in the job, I have the impression they not getting much business after all.

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