When Should You Reach out to a Hiring Manager After Applying?

December 12, 2022

You’ve just clicked submit and your job application is on its way. It’s one of those roles that feels like it was tailor made for you, and you’re confident you’re the right fit for the position. And how could you not be? You have experience and talent, your resume is in tip-top shape and your cover letter engages the reader from the first word, setting you apart from the competition.

So a day passes, then a few days pass without any follow up from the company. When a week or more passes, you start to think that:

  1. Your resume fell into a black hole.
  2. Your application was tossed into the ‘pass’ pile.
  3. The hiring manager has a lot going on.
  4. You’ve been ghosted for some unknown reason. Or
  5. All of the above.

Regardless of the reason, inquiring, eager applicants want to know their status after applying for a job. But what’s the etiquette behind getting some kind of update? Is it proper form to reach out to a hiring manager? What kind of an impression does it give? How should you pursue it, and what duration should you wait?

Read on to get your questions answered about how to follow up on a job application.

First, when should you not follow up?

If the job advertisement you applied to expressly says “No phone calls” or follow up emails to check on the status of your application, sending follow up correspondence could disqualify your candidacy since it gives the impression of disrespectfulness. When a prospective employer states no follow up contact, honor their request.

How long should you wait to follow up?

There are different schools of thought on the proper job application follow up wait time. A survey of more than 300 human resource managers by Accountemps found that 36 percent said job applicants should reach out one to two weeks after sending off their resume. Less than a week was the opinion of 29 percent. Twenty-five percent believed two to three weeks was sufficient time. And a remaining 10 percent said giving three weeks or more is a more appropriate time frame. 

Use your discretion, but giving a follow up at least one week — and no more than three — is ample time.

Whom do you reach out to?

If the job ad directed you to email your cover letter and resume directly to someone in the organization, follow up with this person. LinkedIn sometimes indicates who the hiring manager/in-house recruiter is alongside the ad. 

(If you applied through other means, we recommend searching LinkedIn for the same job ad to see if there’s a hiring manager listed.) 

It’s a rarity today for job applications to provide contact information, funneling and screening applications directly to the company. Here, take the time to do some detective work and peruse the company’s online staff directory for the appropriate point of contact, or email the organization to see if they can put you in touch with the right person. Contact information should be in site sections like “Contact Us” or at the bottom of their homepage.

Follow Up Email? Phone Call?

It’s recommended that you call a company you’ve applied to only to ask who the hiring manager is and to ensure asking for their email address is appropriate (in which case, you do) — and make this the extent of your phone contact. We live in a digital and email world today, and unsolicited phone calls out of the blue to a hiring manager could be perceived as distracting or pestering. 

However, if carried out the right way, a phone call can be acceptable in some circumstances. (More on that below.)

Emailing a hiring manager is your best bet for following up, since you can continue to express your interest in the role, and it conveys respect, enabling them to read your email without pressure. 

(And never, ever, show up unannounced or uninvited in person to a company’s offices — a move that’s considered invasive and aggressive.)

What To Say When Following Up on a Job Application

A follow up email to a hiring manager is simply meant to check in on your application status as well as express your continued interest in the position and how your qualifications align you as the best candidate.

  1. Wait 1–3 weeks after applying to send your email.
  2. Keep it short and sweet. The hiring manager already has your application in their hands and may have already reviewed it, so a succinct email is simply meant as a reminder that you’re a stellar candidate for the gig. Limit the email to three paragraphs maximum.
  3. Begin your email by confirming your interest. Lead off with the most important sentiment, which is to clarify this point, above all else.
  4. Briefly repeat/summarize your best qualifications and experiences in the email to further reinforce your strengths as a candidate.
  5. Thank them for their time, and leave the door open to contact you at their convenience. 

If a phone call is a must for you, time your call right. Ring the hiring manager in the afternoon instead of morning, since the latter half of the workday is often slower — a phone call in the p.m. stands a better chance of garnering their attention, plus it keeps your follow up professional, yet casual. 

Remember to always maintain a positive attitude and friendly tone in any correspondence you send to a hiring manager. Making a good impression on a potential future employer is the best way to follow up on a job application.

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