The job hunt is full of starts and stops.
First, you have to find an open position. Next, all your time and energy go into crafting a compelling cover letter and revamping your resume. Once you click “submit” on the application, you shift to prepping for an interview. After meeting with the hiring team, you start to feel like you have a good chance of landing the job.
But now, you have to wait.
Refreshing your inbox for news about your application can become a stressful spiral, and job search depression is a very real phenomenon. Not only do you want to know whether you’ve gotten the job, but you want to continue to express your interest should the deliberation process be stalled.
In the days after sending a resume or having an interview, it’s common to wonder if and when to follow up on a job application — and what to say should you decide to. After all, it’s a delicate balance: you want to seem eager, but not pushy. And you certainly don’t want to diminish your chances by failing to grant the hiring team space and time to think.
The good news? You can learn how to follow up on a job application in a way that expresses your enthusiasm but retains your professionalism. Let’s dive in.
Should you follow up on a job application?
One of the primary reasons to follow up in the application process is to express gratitude. Saying “Thank you” for the time the hiring manager takes to review your resume and get to know you shows a strong, professional character.
And following up, even if just to express gratitude, provides you the perfect opportunity to briefly restate your interest in the position, highlight your enthusiasm, and stick out to the hiring panel. A quick check-in also lets you inquire about the hiring timeframe and when you can expect to hear back.
When should you follow up on a job application?
When contacting hiring managers, timing is everything. A “Thank you” after an interview should go out immediately — and it doesn’t need to be a long, involved message.
But how long should you wait after an online job application? Research suggests that a job seeker’s best bet is to follow up on their resume after one week and before two. If you follow up too quickly, the hiring manager may not have an update; if you wait too long, you may miss the opportunity to express your continued interest before the company chooses another applicant.
Once you reach out, you may feel tempted to check in again if you don’t hear anything after another week or two. Here, you must use your discretion. You can contact the hiring team around the decision date if you’re seeking confirmation and know the hiring timeline — just avoid being too persistent.
You may want to back down if the team hasn’t answered you after a second message. Some companies don’t contact those not receiving an acceptance offer. If you’ve done your due diligence without getting a response, it’s likely time to move on. Besides, if the company doesn’t respect your time enough to let you know one way or the other, it could be a sign that it isn’t somewhere you want to work anyway.
How to ask for an update on a job application
A week has passed since you sent your resume for a role, and you’re ready to ask for an update. This moment opens the door to further communication with the hiring team, and you want to put your best foot forward.
Start by contacting the hiring manager via email or LinkedIn. Keep your message brief and to the point. Express your appreciation and ask about the hiring timeline and what successful applicants should expect for next steps. Research any potential employer before sending your follow-up email, and address the hiring manager by name.
What to say when following up on a job application
Following up with a hiring team is generally an excellent idea — but you must craft the message carefully. Here’s what to say (and what to leave out) when you send that message:
- Use a clear subject line: Hiring managers get a ton of emails. Help your follow-up message stand out in a crowded inbox with strong email etiquette and by writing a clear subject line, like “Thank you for the interview.”
- Say thank you: Start with gratitude. If a hiring manager reaches out with an update on your application, you can thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration in reviewing it. If you’ve already had your interview, let them know how thankful you are they took the time to meet with you.
- Briefly mention why you’re writing: Follow-up notes should be short, no matter the application. So, quickly mention why you’re writing — and don’t wax poetic. For example, say that you’re following up because you’re very interested in the role, believe you’re a good fit, and would like more information on the hiring process.
- Sign off politely: Thank the hiring manager again for their time and sign off with an offer to send more information should they need it. Ending your email politely leaves a positive impression.
- Avoid applying pressure: You can damage your chances by pressuring a hiring manager to respond before they’re ready. Avoid tactics like telling the manager you’re eager to get started, have to give notice at your current job, or need to decide on another job offer. While applying for multiple roles simultaneously is wise, you don’t have to inform hiring managers of your process unless they ask.
3 examples of application follow-up messages
Here are three email templates for a mock graphic designer role to get you started:
Dear [hiring manager’s name],
I am writing to follow up on an application I submitted on June 20th for the graphic designer role at [company name]. Thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing my resume and cover letter.
I wanted to take a moment to express my continued interest in this role. As a freelance designer with over 10 years of experience creating brand guidelines, graphics, and social media materials, I believe I have an ideal skillset for this position. I also admire your design team’s impressive aesthetic work and the inclusive, collaborative company culture. I am attaching my portfolio so that you can get a better idea of my past projects, and I am happy to send more information along should you need it.
I’d also be very grateful if you could give me an idea of the hiring timeline so I can be attentive to the process. Thank you again.
Job interview follow-up
Dear [hiring manager’s name],
I wanted to send a quick note to thank you for your time earlier today. I enjoyed discussing the graphic designer position and sharing my credentials with you. I left the meeting feeling like this role is a great fit and that I continue to be a strong candidate.
I look forward to hearing from you when the hiring team has made its decision. In the meantime, I am happy to provide additional information or answer any questions you may have — please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Dear [hiring manager’s name],
I am following up on the graphic designer position I applied for two weeks ago. I believe your team will make your decision this week, and I wanted to confirm my continued interest.
Please let me know if you need any last-minute materials from me. I look forward to hearing back.
Wondering what to say when calling after applying for a job? First and foremost, it’s usually only appropriate to call if the hiring manager has already spoken with you over the phone and there’s a direct reason for the call. If you have a call on the books and want to tack on a quick follow-up about your interview, you can use any of the above messages as a base — but since this type of contact implies a conversation, prepare to go with the flow.
Whatever the reason for the call, start out with a clear message as to why you’re calling (much like if you were writing) and give the hiring manager time to respond. Unless they ask questions, “sign off” the call politely, thanking them for their time and offering to provide more information on an as-needed basis.
Look to the future
When you apply to a new job posting, you may be about to embark on the next adventure in your career. But should that turn out not to be the case, a job search is still a great opportunity to dust off your interview skills, get your resume in good shape, and practice excellent communication by appropriately following up on your application.
Even the job applications that don’t lead to a new role have something to teach you. Don’t take it too personally if you don’t score a position you’d hoped for — there’s a reason it wasn’t a good fit, and you’re on your way to finding a better one. Accept rejection gracefully, take interview feedback, and keep your head up.