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How to Follow Up on a Job Application

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Should you follow up after submitting a job application? Sure! But there’s a fine line between professional due diligence and pushiness. Sometimes the difference is very subjective, which can be confusing.

Here are some standard rules:

  1. Reread all instructions and confirmation emails. The worst thing you can do is to demonstrate you can’t be bothered with details. Review the job listing and any communication you received for clues on how and when to follow up. For instance, the hiring manager likely won’t follow up until after the application window closes, so look for that deadline if there is one. Or they may even list precisely who to contact and how to contact them with questions in their “thank you for applying” email (although a contact name or info is rare).
  2. Wait one to two weeks. Never assume a hiring manager will be able to get back to you sooner. A week is the least amount of time you should wait. If you’re antsy, check LinkedIn for connections who might work at or know someone at the organization. Contact them and ask if they would consider giving the hiring manager a heads-up that you applied. Explain to them why you think you’re a great fit so they can relay the message in their own way.
  3. Be respectful. This includes being brief and professional when you do reach out. Keep it simple, with something like, “I recently applied for your X position and am very interested in both the role and in your organization. Could you tell me when candidates might expect to hear back about the next steps in the process?” Asking a question when you follow up gives the hiring manager more motivation/reason to get back to you as well.
  4. Know when to move on. It can be frustrating to receive a rejection letter without further feedback. But don’t consider that form letter a lack of courtesy or a sign of laziness. There are legitimate legal reasons employers don’t give job candidates detailed feedback on why they weren’t considered. Being completely ghosted by an employer is one thing, but be careful about pressing for more information if you do get an unsatisfactory answer.
  5. Go through the recruiter. If you applied through a reputable recruiter, you’re in luck. That person is rooting for both you and the employer and will be happy to follow up on your behalf as appropriate and to get any answers they can for you. This can be especially useful if you’re applying to multiple jobs and need to push for answers when other job offers roll in.

Waiting and wondering can be frustrating but take that time to do your homework on who to contact, who at the organization might be able to help get your application noticed, and what you’ll say when you reach out. Practicing patience in this area can really pay off.


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