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You’ve got an updated CV, have the necessary technical skills and feel like you’re a good cultural fit…but you still haven’t heard back from that job application.

Before you start to panic, you should know that there’s plenty you can do to get the wheels moving on your application again. Our recruitment experts reveal how long you should wait before calling about a job application and what to say in a follow-up call after applying.

How long should you wait to hear back from a job application?

Toying with the idea of calling the company HR director to follow-up on the interview? It’s more common than you’d think! According to a Robert Half survey of over 200 HR managers, 92 per cent feel that it’s acceptable for prospective employees to reach out if they haven’t heard back from an interview.

To give an idea of timescales, one in four HR managers feel that a period of 11 working days is the optimum time to elapse before a candidate should get back in touch. Don’t forget—it’s highly likely that they’ve been swamped with applications, so try to be patient!

Consider the size of the company

Time to hire usually depends on the size of the company you’ve applied to. For example, large companies (circa 1,000 employees) can take an average of 11 – 14 days to respond to candidates, where medium and small companies take roughly a week. 

As a general rule of thumb, the more stakeholders involved in the application process, the longer it tends to be. 

What do you say when you call about a job you applied for?

If you’ve decided to take the leap and pick up the phone to follow-up on your application, there are a few preparatory measures before you dial that number:

Make sure you’re contacting the right person - check the contact on your job application to ensure you’re calling the right person. If you’ve heard about the role or applied to a recruitment agency, the recruitment consultant will be your first port of call. Not only will you gain far more information from the conversation, but you’re less likely to waste time.

Have the job description and your CV to hand - on the off-chance you get through to the right person, it’s helpful to have easy access to all the details you’ll need for the call. You may find yourself getting an impromptu phone interview, so quickly familiarise yourself with the role requirements and how your own experience matches up.

Find a quiet place to call from - the last thing you need is a lot of background noise or distractions while you’re trying to secure your dream job. Before you make the call, make sure you’ve found a quiet place where you’re unlikely to be disturbed for half an hour. 

Now that you’re ready to make the call, you should aim to cover off the following points:

  • A short introduction, including your name and the position you’ve recently applied for (including the reference number, if provided). You could explain that you’ve been waiting to hear back and are keen, so wanted to follow-up.
  • Should you be interviewed on the phone, remember to relate the specifications on the job description to your own experience, so your application is strengthened.
  • Is your contact too busy to talk? Try to rearrange the call for a time and day which suits them rather than leaving the dialogue at a dead end. 

Related: How to answer: 'Why do you want this job?' during an interview

Interview follow-up mistakes to avoid

Sending a WhatsApp or text message to your contact - abusing the contact details on the job advert crosses a boundary which could hurt your chances of securing the role. Try to only use it for calls within business hours.

Reaching out to your contact via a private social network - hunting down your job application contact and messaging them through a more private platform, like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, isn’t strictly professional. If you can’t find them on a work-related platform, like LinkedIn, wait until you’re able to place a formal phone call instead. 

Sending messages to the company social media account - messaging the company on Facebook or Twitter isn’t a particularly professional way to follow-up on your application. You may not even be communicating with the right person, so won’t be able to get any concrete answers as to the status of your application. You also risk revealing yourself to your current employer—not ideal!

Related: How to prepare for a job interview

Why not apply though a recruitment expert

Do the nerves of placing a follow-up call fill you with more dread than the application itself? Not to worry—you can always opt to apply for your next position through a recruitment company like Robert Half. They will handle the application and follow-up process for you via a direct company contact. Apply to our open jobs or upload your CV now.