Actions to Take When HR Doesn't Call

Published: Oct 31, 2013

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October 31, 2013

What do we do when HR doesn't call us back? Follow up or let it go?

By Angela Rose for

Whether you’re searching for your very first “real” job or have twenty years of corporate experience and six months of unemployment under your belt, there’s nothing like the excitement of discovering the “perfect” job opening. It’s tempting to immediately begin imagining how great your life (and your bank balance) will be once you’ve landed the position. Realistically, there are dozens (sometimes hundreds) of applicants for every job posted. Hiring managers and HR professionals, overwhelmed and understaffed, may fail to acknowledge your resume or even follow up after an interview. This leaves the burden of (or opportunity for) follow up on you. When and how you should follow up depends on your stage in the hiring game.

Whether or not you should follow up after resume submission depends on how it was submitted. When you’re submitting an application or a resume through a job board or the company’s website, you will likely receive an email notification to confirm that your resume has been received. Given the sheer volume of applicants for most positions, the company may view this email confirmation as “good enough” on their end.

While it may be possible to track down a phone number for the hiring manger or human resources department by calling the company’s main number, experts advise that you have a very good reason for doing so first. Don’t call and state that you’re “just checking to make sure my resume was received.” That may be viewed as a waste of their time. However, if you’re certain that you are thoroughly qualified for the job, it doesn’t hurt to call or email and say so. If you have any doubts as to your qualifications, or if the website specifically states “no phone calls,” then don’t.

If you’re at the interview stage of the hiring game, follow up is not only wise, but also polite. At the end of your interview, exchange business cards with the representative. Ask about the next step in the process. Should you expect a second (or third) interview or will the company be making a decision based on this one? Ask the representative if she or he knows how soon the company will be making a decision. As you thank him for his time, state that you’ll follow up in a week.

After every interview, send a thank you email as soon as possible. As the representative may be interviewing dozens of candidates, make sure you mention your name, the interview date and position you were interviewing for. Express your excitement about the opportunity again. Briefly reiterate your qualifications or another notable topic from the interview. Remind the representative that you will be following up. It doesn’t hurt to take things a step further and send a brief, professional thank you note in the mail as well, particularly if you’re applying for a job where business etiquette may be highly prized.

If you do not hear from the hiring manager, human resources professional or company representative before the week is up, give them a call. Try not to take it personally if they are unable to speak with you directly. Leave a message and follow up with an email. If you do not receive a return call or email within a few more days, consider moving on. While making one more call is not unheard of, you don’t want to appear desperate by calling repeatedly. Companies should follow up with all candidates who were interviewed, but some do not. This is unfortunate, but maybe you don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t value your time. For whatever reason, you may not have been the best candidate for the position. This can mean there’s a better job out there with your name on it, so move on and keep looking.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for

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