Great jobs come to those who wait...

Gold stairway with light office space at the bottom

You know the scenario: you’ve applied for a new position in a company and you’re waiting to hear back. You wait…and wait. Or perhaps you’ve already had an interview and you’re keen to find out whether you will be offered the role.

The days tick by with no sign of that call or letter. Our research shows that there’s a significant gap between job seekers’ expectations of communication around the recruitment process and the reality you are likely to experience.

So what, if anything, can you do to prepare for this?

After applying 

If you’ve spent time tailoring your CV or filling in an application form you will want to know whether or not you are likely to be offered an interview. When we surveyed job seekers, we found that almost one in four (23%) expected the organisation or recruitment consultancy to get back to them within two days with 57% expecting a response within four days.

How to prepare: Try to understand that a company may have dozens or even hundreds of applications for a particular job. If they are to do the process justice, they must take time to assess the qualities of the applicants.  Don’t assume that because you have heard nothing after a week the company isn’t interested in you. A polite follow up call or email may be acceptable, but frequent contact is not.

If you’re using a recruitment consultancy, you may feel less inhibited about contacting them for a response – if you’ve not already heard - but make sure you remain professional at all times.

Post interview 

Our research shows that the vast majority (88%) of job seekers expect to be contacted within four days of attending an interview (with 55% expecting a response within two days). When we meet with HR managers and recruiters at client organisations, we stress the importance of delivering feedback in a timely fashion. However, there are bound to be occasions when the response will be slower than you would like. It’s frustrating, but it’s not necessarily a reflection of the company or its assessment of you.

How to prepare: Find out about the timescales during your interview. Try and ensure it’s ‘business as usual’ once you’re done (i.e. don’t dwell on the interview but focus on your job or other activities).  If you haven’t heard within the time specified, call to ask for feedback. Give the company some time to respond and, if necessary, get in touch again after a few days.

If everything about the process has been disorganised or mismanaged, this delay may not be a good sign. However, it’s important to understand that the company may have other, more pressing priorities and something as straightforward as a key member of the recruitment process being off sick could cause delays.

The length of the recruitment process 

When we surveyed job seekers, we found that almost one in four (23%) expected the organisation or recruitment consultancy to get back to them within two days with 57% expecting a response within four days.

While 78% of professionals think the recruitment process (from application to job offer) should take four weeks or less, our research shows this only happened in 26% of cases. And while just 1% of job seekers believe that three months or more is an acceptable time frame, we found that recruitment took this long in over a fifth (22%) of cases.

We recommend that employers sign off budgets before the recruitment process begins, identify who needs to be involved in the recruitment process at the outset and schedule their time in advance. However, this isn’t something all organisations are able to implement.

How to prepare:  If you’re using a recruitment consultancy, you should get timely feedback about the progress of the hiring process.  It will help if you’re able to be flexible about your time for interview. Most organisations will call professionals for two interviews, but a quarter of the employees we spoke to said they normally carry out three.

It’s worth remembering - while you’re waiting for that email or call - that if you’re offered the role and it turns out to be the career move you’ve dreamed of, the delays you experienced will soon fade from your mind. 

Read our tips on how to tailor your CV and how to answer questions at interview


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