For the 10.3 million unemployed people in the United States who are looking for a job, one of the most frustrating aspects of a job hunt is waiting for the phone to ring. Especially after an interview. And especially after an employer says "We'll call you soon."
I know. I've been doing it for six months, and have reluctantly been keeping the national unemployment rate at 6.7%, according to the latest figures from November from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And although I don't have a full-time job yet, I do have some ideas on how to get that callback and can explain some of the frustration job seekers are experiencing.
The first thing to remember is that looking for a job, and awaiting word on whether you're successful or not, is like dating. Beyond waiting for the phone to ring, the interview, or date, plays in your head over and over again as you over-analyze it and try to come up with better ways to present yourself if you get a second chance.
To combat this problem, deal with it early, at the first interview. End the interview by trying to assess how you did, what the competition is, if there are any red flags that prevent them from hiring you, and when you can expect to be called back for a second interview. At the least, I always ask what the employer's timeline is for hiring and when they expect to make a decision, and even better, when I should expect them to contact me.
A difficult part of this is that everyone has their own timetable, and no matter what they tell you, things will change or they could decide not to call you after telling you they will. I recently had a job interview and was told I would be called back within a week, and more than two weeks later I'm still waiting. My hope is that they got especially busy during the holiday break, and not that they went with someone else.
I'm not averse to calling the employer and seeing what's going on, but I don't want to seem like a pest. I usually give it a week or so until I call. But too often employers won't return the call, leaving me to believe they have hired someone else. The optimist in me wants to think they're busy. But like the date's excuse that she has to wash her hair on Saturday night, it's easy to miss the signs that you're not wanted.
A rule of thumb on calling employers back that I think sounds fair, and which was suggested to me on my blog about my job search, is to wait a week to 10 days for corporate jobs, five to seven days for a small business, and who knows how long for state and federal jobs. I've quickly learned that government job applications can take months.
Another tip is to call someone inside the company who you know to see if they could approach the hiring manager to see how you fare. If you don't know anyone inside the company, then just call the person you interviewed with, or their secretary, who are often sympathetic and will try to help. I've reached hiring managers who have basically told me not to call them again, that they'd call when and if they're interested, to others who have had kind words of encouragement while telling me that someone more qualified will be hired.
Making that call back, instead of waiting for them to call you, is one of the most difficult things to do in a job search. Try to think of it from the employer's standpoint, that they'd like to see the initiative in someone they're hiring, and make the call. In this economy, being bold and standing out from the crowd can be the deciding factor.
Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com