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Here we are, the Tuesday after a long holiday weekend, and our to-do lists are likely full the brim with “time to get down to business” type items. And while summer isn’t officially over, many of us consider the days following the Labor Day weekend THE time to start kicking our job searches into gear.

Here’s the thing though: like everyone else, HR reps and recruiters are also just getting back to work today, and sorting through what’s likely a plethora of emails, job applications, resume submissions, and recruiting ads to be written, posted and reviewed. Even though we are in the midst of hiring’s biggest busy season, it is still about strategic timing, and understanding what’s going on on the other end.

Here are a few ideas that will help you get the most out of your efforts:

Don’t Rush Out of the Gate

It’s tempting to rush and apply to a new job posting the second it’s posted, but job searching is not a “first come, first served” type of game. It’s still about quality, and as such, it’s worth taking a few extra days to prepare a really solid resume and application before sending it off. Proofread – twice. Have a friend or colleague read over your application. Comb through the company’s website, press mentions and social media feeds to see if there is any other relevant information that you can tie into your sales pitch around why you’re a great fit for the company.

Aim to apply within the first 1-2 weeks, when hiring managers are still sorting through the first few rounds of resume submissions, and putting together their top prospect list of candidates whom they plan to move into the next round.

Be Respectful in Your Follow Up

Following up is a critical step in the process, but in my opinion, it’s more effective in the later stages, after the interview when you’ve developed a rapport with the hiring manager. While it’s not wrong to follow up on your resume submission, keep in mind that recruiters (internal and external) are often fielding hundreds of requests and submissions, and simply don’t have the capacity to respond to general inquiries. If they are interested, they will reach out to you. But if you do follow up on a submission, opt for email versus phone calls. There is a reason many job posts cite “No phone calls please.”

Keep Your Pipeline Full

A typical hiring process can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks, and that’s without any internal kinks that are subject to occur, such as financial and administrative approvals. I hear all the time from candidates who moved through the final stages of the process and were practically waiting on an offer letter, only to hear crickets afterward. A number of things can happen that have nothing to do with you directly, such as a loss of funding or re-prioritizing hiring needs to fill a more critical opening.

Don’t discontinue your search and your marketing efforts whilst in the latter stages of interviewing with a prospect. If they fall through, you want to make sure you have a shortlist of other viable leads and applications in the works to fall back on, and that you’re not starting from zero.

Be Patient

“I had a phone interview 2 days ago; the recruiter said they’d follow up with me immediately, and I still haven’t heard back!” This is not uncommon, and it’s definitely no reason to start panicking. We may live in an age of instant information and gratification, but that’s not how the hiring world works – be patient, and be strategic. Re-examine the situation in three parts before you decide to reach out on a nervous impulse:

  1. What was the call to action they left you with – did they say they would follow up with you?
  2. What was the implied next steps – would they be setting up another phone interview, or bringing you in directly?
  3. What was the implied timeline – “immediately”, “within the next few days”, “once I’ve spoken with the department manager”, i.e., indefinite? Then decide on an appropriate course of action.

If you were promised an immediate follow up, or the timeline has clearly passed in excess of say, 3 or 4 days, then it’s acceptable to follow up and inquire professionally and succinctly if there has been any further movement on the situation.

Timing is everything. While now marks an excellent time to be working your leads, building your pipeline and marketing yourself to key prospects and job openings, pacing yourself and being strategic about your outreach can benefit you more than being the first email to hit the inbox.


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