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Please just tell me if you don't want to hire me.
February 9, 2010 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Should I follow up with a company I'm dying to work for?

In early January, I sent in an application for a nonprofit job I'm incredibly interested. It's in my field and the organization (Organization A) is a great fit for me. About a week and a half later, I received an email from the executive director, telling me that I was a finalist for the position and asking for a some more information. I emailed back and forth about my grad program for a couple of days, and then got the "We'll be in touch." I haven't heard a word since then - it's been three weeks.

In the intervening three weeks, I've heard back for and have begun the training process for a part-time gig at Organization B that I feel pretty lukewarm about. I don't want to commit to this job when the training is finished at the end of next week if the full-time job I would love is still an option.

Can I contact Organization A and ask where they are in the hiring process? I've always been told never, ever, ever to do that, but it seems like it might be okay in this situation.
posted by amandarose to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Where'd you hear that from? In my experience, contacting a potential employer a few weeks after your last positive contact with them is pretty routine. I've certainly done it in the past and it hasn't had a negative impact on my record of getting hired.

Unless the potential employer has a well-established and well-known hiring process, e.g. law firms recruiting law students or the federal government hiring anybody, the hiring process can frequently be kind of ad hoc. Most people don't do it very often and don't like doing it when they have to. Bringing your name to mind by a polite question about the status of things is entirely appropriate in most cases.
posted by valkyryn at 7:31 AM on February 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, as far as I have heard, following up on your own is usually a good idea, not a bad one. I'm surprised to hear somebody's been telling you the opposite. Definitely follow up.
posted by penduluum at 7:37 AM on February 9, 2010


Following up is a good idea. Repeatedly following up if you don't hear back from them is bad. There's a difference between advocating for yourself and harassing the other party.

On the other hand, stories abound about people getting hired into organizations because they won't take no for an answer. But these types of stories often involve company cultures that prize that kind of assertiveness and persistence.
posted by dfriedman at 7:45 AM on February 9, 2010


3rding follow up. Tell them you are very interested in the position, but other opportunities are presenting themselves and you need to know whether or not you should be pursuing them. Very standard, especially after three weeks. Non-profits can often move at a glacial pace when hiring people so they're used to inquiries like this.
posted by Kimberly at 7:47 AM on February 9, 2010


They might even take your long silence as a sign you're no longer interested. I know they said "we'll be in touch," but that's one of the shitty things about applying for jobs: the weird mind games you play with yourself, and the weird 'rules' that everyone has different ideas about (similar to dating, really). I say get in touch, like the others have mentioned - three weeks is a long time and it's good to proactively stay on their radar.
posted by ORthey at 9:11 AM on February 9, 2010


Yeah, I remember reading "don't follow up" in a "job hunting do's and don't" list a long time ago too, but one time I had interviewed for a job I really wanted, and nearly a month went by without so much as a peep from the company.

I really could not wait any longer, and sent a gentle "just checking in to see how the process is going" email... as it turned out the decision maker had been out of town, there was a temporary hiring freeze, etc... they were very apologetic for not keeping me in the loop, and brought me in for a second interview a few days later. Although I didn't get the job, it definitely wasn't because I asked for an update... It was because I lived much further away from the site than the other contenders.
posted by usonian at 9:36 AM on February 9, 2010


There's any number of reasons why the hiring process with Org A is taking a long time. Calling to check in is a great way to show that you're eager, proactive, and interested in the job.
posted by ged at 11:23 AM on February 9, 2010


Call them already! "Hey, just checking in on how your hiring process is going. I have another opportunity that I'm a shoe-in for but I really liked what I was hearing the last time we talked and I'd hate to miss out on a chance with you."
posted by amanda at 11:32 AM on February 9, 2010


Yeah, following up is fine as long as it doesn't cross the line into being obsessive/irritating. An inquiry after three weeks is definitely not a problem.

Taking it a step further, you should definitely consider bringing up to Organization A that you have to make a decision on Organization B by the end of next week. If they're interested in you, that might result in them speeding up the process in a way that works out for everyone.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 12:27 PM on February 9, 2010


As a person who does some hiring, I really appreciate when potential candidates follow up. In the past, when there has been open positions in the company, it means everyone else in the office has to pick up some extra work until someone is hired. At times, things will get really busy and the critical day-to-day tasks tend to get in the way of proactively interviewing and employee hunting.

Following up just shows your enthusiasm. I'd say a polite inquiry would be a good idea and might even be expected.

Good luck!
posted by Olive Oil at 2:19 PM on February 9, 2010


I think I see the reason you might have heard not to follow up - you haven't had any actual interview yet. There's still no reason you can't drop someone a note after three weeks, particularly if someone told you in writing that you're a finalist.

A simple note asking where they were in the process and your enthusiasm to talk to them more about the organization and where you could fit into it is perfectly appropriate.
posted by phearlez at 7:12 PM on February 9, 2010


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