It’s Apropos!

Why Won’t They Call You Back?

by Marc Cenedella (Founder and CEO of www.theladders.com)

Marc Cenedella

Why haven’t they called you back?

The interview went well — you’re pretty sure you nailed that question about how you could contribute to the team’s new mobile initiative — and you really hit it off with the HR person. You’ve got a background in exactly the area they’re looking for and you know you’re perfectly qualified for the role.

So why haven’t they called you back? After all, it’s already been two whole days! Don’t they realize that you’d be perfect and you’re just itching to go?

To paraphrase John Wayne, “Now hold on just a minute there, pilgrim.” (Or maybe that’s Robin Williams impersonating John Wayne, I’m getting my childhood TV mixed up…)

I know you are very, very excited and very eager to find your next role. After all, you deserve it!

But you need to be aware of the company’s timing as much as your own. Of course, because more than one person is involved in the decision, there will be a hiring process. Feedback needs to be collected, budgets need to be consulted, and meetings must be held.

All of which takes time.

So expecting that you’ll be getting feedback or another interview request the very next day after your visit is just a bit unrealistic. As a matter of fact, expecting and assuming that they’ll be following up at all is probably unrealistic these days. You’ll need to be proactive and do the following-up yourself after a reasonable amount of time has passed.

What’s a reasonable time frame? It’s long enough so that it doesn’t seem you’re breathing down their necks, and it’s soon enough so that they don’t think you’ve forgotten.

My advice is to wait a week between call-backs.

Just put it in your calendar — after you’ve had a call, an interview, an e-mail — just jot a note to yourself to follow up seven days later. And forget about it until then — fretting doesn’t make it better.

What should your follow-up calls (better) or e-mails (OK) read like?

“Hi, Mrs. Lee, I had such a wonderful time speaking with you last week and I think I could contribute a lot to Acme. So I’m just following up on our conversations and would love to hear back from you. You can reach me at this phone or that e-mail address.”

or

“Hello, Tom. When we met three weeks ago I mentioned how Ink, Inc. would be a great opportunity to apply my software development management skills in an industry I’m familiar with. So I would very much appreciate the chance to connect and hear what you’re thinking about my candidacy. You can reach me at this phone number.”

In each conversation, you’re trying to remind them of the three Es: you exist, you’re excited, and you’re expecting to hear back from them.

You exist. Now, of course, you haven’t forgotten this since you last spoke with Mrs. Lee or Tom Pruitt, but you know what?, they might have forgotten about you. And it’s not because you’re insignificant or not qualified or not wanted. It’s just with hiring on the upswing, and HR departments and recruiters still under-staffed from the recession, they don’t have time to follow up with all of the people they’ve spoken with. So a gentle reminder that “Hey, I’m here” can remind them of how much they liked you.

You’re excited. Sometimes the candidate with the consistent and persistent enthusiasm can get the nod just for showing sustained interest. Make sure you communicate why you’re interested in the role and why you’d be great.

You’re expecting. Don’t ask them to call back “only” if they’re interested or “only” if there’s an update. You burned up a good few minutes of your time doing the favor of reaching out to them, so ask them to give the favor back in return. Go ahead and politely suggest the return call — it will give you a chance to get them back on the phone, sell yourself some more, and find out what the scoop is on their side.

Also, it’s worth mentioning for good order that there are also three Es you want to avoid. You don’t want to tell them that you’re enraged that you haven’t got the job yet, over eager because you’ve got nothing else going on, or an egomaniac who thinks they should feel lucky that you’re considering them. Nobody wants to hire an angry, desperate jerk.

Keep calling back each week, politely and persistently.

If you’ve got the patience of Job and the stamina of Lou Gehrig, then keep at this for 8-10 weeks. But for most folks, I suggest limiting it to 5. If they haven’t called you back after five weeks, then you probably aren’t going to be hearing from them after 10, and your time is best spent elsewhere. (But don’t give up after three, which is what too many people do — I’ve seen too much luck created on those fourth and fifth calls for you to skip them!)

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