Why Job Hunters Must Respond Right Away

July 29, 2010 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

It may seem obvious that job seekers should make responding to a potential employer a priority, yet recruiters say this is one of their  biggest frustrations: Job candidates often don’t get back to them right away. And if they don’t, the recruiter often moves on to the next candidate on the list.

Now, you may say that recruiters and hiring managers have it coming to them — they can take FOREVER to respond to your initial inquiry and many more moons to get back to you between interviews, while many (sadly, wrongly) don’t even bother to let you know that you didn’t get the job. That may all be true. But whoever said job hunting was fair and equitable?

The rule for job hunters is to respond — with lightning-fast speed — to any inquiry, call, email or other form of communication from a hiring manager at an organization where you have any desire to work now or in the future. In a competitive market, the job hunter who fails to get back to a company even by a day (or certainly two or three) likely has lost out on the opportunity — once a hiring manager decides to get moving, they want to move now! Further, not only does the job hunter who gets back in touch score the interview and sometimes the offer, but this sets up a future relationship with the company. If you respond right away to hiring managers, you’re demonstrating that you’re attentive, quick, and plugged-in — a reputation that can only aid you if you join the organization.

Here are some tips on how to become that responsive job hunter:

*Provide prospective employers with several ways to reach you. Be clear about this on your resume and cover letter. First, list a mobile phone number (or more than one) that you regularly check for messages — at least several times a day — as well as an email address. If you’re looking for another job while employed, make sure the email address is reserved for job hunting and is not an email account at your current company. If you are active on social-networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn (especially LinkedIn, as it is designed for this) you can note this as well and provide information about your Web site or blog as another way for employers to be in touch with you. It’s better to provide hiring managers with more ways to reach you and to check you out. But you must then regularly check all of these accounts. So consequently, don’t list phone numbers or accounts that you’re not likely to check as if you miss a message there, you may miss out on an interview.

*Be available all the time — okay, maybe not in the middle of the night, but all the rest of the time. Prospective employers expect you to respond to them at least within a few hours;  if it takes days for you to get back to them at each stage, they’re likely to lose interest. Develop a plan while job hunting so that you don’t go more than an hour or two without checking your designated email and Voicemail accounts for messages. (And please, please, please do not leave silly or juvenile outgoing messages — of the “you know what to do” variety — keep it professional. And make sure all of your devices are charged so that you don’t miss messages that way; the “I forgot to charge my mobile phone” excuse makes managers crazy.) If you’re in discussions with an organization and will be unreachable for a stretch — say that you’re taking a long plane flight or expect to be somewhere without good reception — let the hiring manager know in advance. And make sure that references you list also are routinely available. This is sometimes a problem during the summer with academic references — it’s best to provide hiring managers with alternate ways to communicate with such references.

*Get back to them at times that are good for them. Unless you’re seeking to hide from a hiring manager, it’s not a good idea to call them back when you know they are likely to be swamped. If they say they’re busy then, seek to set up times to talk on the phone or have a “live chat” electronically when they’re free. By being sensitive to their schedule and taking the initiative to set up good times to communicate, you may win points for your professionalism and organizational skills.

*Respond to all inquiries from an organization. Especially during a lengthy hiring process, a number of people may contact you — a recruiter, people from H.R., an executive assistant setting up appointments, the hiring manager or managers, and perhaps someone from the parent company or outside search firm brought in to help with this hire. Get back as quickly as you can to each of them and treat them each the same way you would treat your prospective boss — if one of them feels like you’re not respecting their part of the process, they will almost certainly let the decision-maker in this hire know about it, and that could hurt your chances. Remember that each step of the process is important and even if you feel you have given one person in the organization this information already, provide it again to the next person. Again, not only will you be moving your candidacy along but you will be developing a reputation that will benefit you in the future.

*A telling — and amusing — post at glassdoor.com (one of my favorite job-hunting sites) about all the dopey things companies do to drive away good job candidates:

Are Companies Beating Talent Away With A Stick?

*Check out today’s fresh job and internship leads in the D.C. area:

*The Army’s Office of the Chief of Staff in Alexandria has an opening for a speechwriter:

Writer-Editor (Speechwriter)
Army, Office of the Chief of Staff of Army – Alexandria, VA
information, the editor decides whether to seek… and nuances of writing and editing. Must possess a high level of expertise in writing, editing, research… $105,211 – $136,771 a year
From usajobs.gov

*Providence Hospital in D.C. is looking for a vice president of marketing and communications:

Vice President for Marketing & Communications
Providence Hospital – Washington, DC
our ministry as Vice President for Marketing & Communications. You will make your mark by helping us make… loyalty as well as associate and board communications.

*Raytheon has an opening in Arlington for a director of public relations and international communications:

Dir I Public Relations and International Communications
Raytheon – Arlington, VA
Vice President of Communications, and indirectly to… VP of Communications on all external communications matters. Director I, NCS International Communications…
From Monster

*Here are some fall internship openings. The first is for digital media interns at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring:

Digital Media Interns
Discovery Communications, Inc. – Silver Spring, MD
Communications is for you! We’re looking for quick learners and independent thinkers with strong writing… of learning through training and work experience…
From Discovery Communications, Inc.

*The Sunlight Foundation in D.C. has a (paid) internship available this fall:


*These next few leads are via mediabistro.com — WTOP in D.C. is looking for a Web producer/developer:

WTOP Radio is seeking a web developer.

*This could be a good opening for someone with an education background — Inside Higher Ed in D.C. is looking for a reporter to cover higher education:

Inside Higher Ed seeks a higher education reporter.

*And last but certainly not least today, NPR in D.C. has a temporary (nine-month) opening for a business reporter:


Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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