On the Job

Too Soon to Follow Up With a Recruiter?

By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, June 15, 2007; 8:00 AM

Sometimes the job search process can seem to take forever.

When you are waiting for an initial callback or to set up an interview, things rarely seem to happen fast enough.

If you can't stand the wait any longer, when should you follow up?

That's what this job seeker, who's ready to give up on her dream job because she hasn't heard back from a recruiter, wonders:

I've been working with two placement agencies. The first one contacted me about a position that is perfect for me, but I've yet to go on an interview. A short time later, I saw the same job on another agency's site and submitted my resume again. That agency's recruiter contacted me too, but once again I have yet to interview.

It's been about three weeks since I first learned of this opportunity. Should I cut my losses and move on, or am I being impatient?

It is important to follow up with a hiring agent quickly, says Karen Usher, chairman of Falls Church, Va.-based human resources firm TPO Inc. They can become overwhelmed with eager applicants, making it easy to lose track of individuals. Three weeks is more than enough time to wait for word, she continues, and this applicant should definitely check to see where her bid stands.

This is a common problem for job seekers, adds Usher, who offers a few reminders for candidates attempting to determine the right time to contact a hiring manager:

If an applicant mails a resume on Wednesday, it's unlikely to see a recruiter's desk before the following Monday. The person reviewing applications may not begin to look at resumes until a certain amount are collected. And even then, the initial reviewer might ask a second person to weed out the good and bad candidates before scheduling phone screenings. This can add days to the process.

Given this scenario, it could take up to two weeks before contact is made -- and that is a reasonable waiting period, says Usher.

If do you talk with a recruiter, says Usher, keep the conversation open-ended. Asking about an interview right away can be off-putting: Instead, say something like "I'm interested in following up on my application and wanted to make sure you got it. Can you give me a sense of its status?"

If the news is bad, and the company is not interested after all, at least you'll know for sure.

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com. To submit a question, e-mail onthejob@washingtonpost.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.

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