When to move on in your job search

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Your job search involves stages — getting from resume to phone interview, phone interview to a face-to-face interview, and from face-to-face interviews to job offer. All of these stages have something in common: they take time.

How much time should they take? No one knows because, for each potential employer, the answer is different. It depends on the company hiring process, the effectiveness of recruiters, the motivation of the hiring manager and the time needed to perform various levels of background checks.

Since each of these job search stages takes time, how long should you wait for an employer to respond before moving on to the next employer?

Many pundits will offer up varying amounts of time. Which is interesting advice since, for each potential employer, the amount of time it takes for the company to move through the hiring process is different.

When should you move on in your job search? My answer is: now. You don’t wait for an employer.


Consider the resume submission. With the number of applicants to a particular job opening still historically high, waiting for an employer to respond to your resume submission before submitting another is a very bad thing to do.

I submitted my resume to a local company for a project manager position for five different openings over the course of two months. I never heard from the company once. But, you know what? I was placed at that very same company as a consulting project manager…at much higher pay…and performed the work. I’d still be waiting for a response if I had to count on their HR department to recognize the brilliance of my work…

Phone interviews

Your resume is what gets you the phone interview. If you think the phone interview you get from that resume went really well, it’s easy to kick back and wait for that call for the face-to-face interview. But, you know what? You don’t wait. You continue to scan the job market, continue to submit your resume to qualified positions and work your job search plan.

I’ve have phone interviews where it was exceptionally clear to me that I could do the work of the position, had the great phone interview, and then heard crickets about any next move. Much less any resolution of what happened in the phone interview.

Companies freeze open positions. A hiring manager gets moved in a reorganization. Another, more critical position opens up and the concentration moves to that open position. So you wait for something that you really have no control over and spin in the wind.

Face-to-face interviews

By the time you get to face-to-face interviews, it is getting serious. Easy to take your foot off the job search because that offer will be coming any time.

But what you thought was a great interview could be a disaster for the hiring manager. Or the next person in after you was a better job candidate and they made an offer to that person. While you’re unknowingly stuck in the number two slot as a reserve player waiting for the company to sign — or not sign — the person that beat you out in the interview.

What can you control?

Do you recognize the other common theme besides time in each of these stages of your job search? When you wait for an employer to respond to your brilliance, you cede control over your job search from you to them.

Now instead of taking the initiative for your job search, you passively wait while an employer figures out what to do. Now you are the one with anxiety over whether or not you’ll move on to the next stage of the job search. You are the one dependent on that phone call announcing your fate with the company. Or not hearing anything at all.

Cubicle Warriors don’t take this position. They work what they can control in a job search. And what can you control? Continuing to search the market for positions. Continuing to submit resumes. Figuring out if their resume is not getting phone interviews and what can be done to improve their resume. Continuing to stay in touch with their business network to find the pulse of the market and of other open positions.

Cubicle Warriors care about the positions they are applying for, of course. Just not enough to sacrifice control over their career — and their family’s income.

Cubicle Warriors move on in their job search the minute the latest transaction with an employer is done. A job search, after all, is about maintaining employment security.

Not about waiting on the whims of a corporation.

  • Really interesting post! This is often an area where job seekers aren’t sure how to act, but I certainly agree it’s best to be active rather than passive in your search. A good rule of thumb is to follow up a week or two after submitting your resume to an employer. Many candidates become discouraged when they repeatedly hear nothing but silence from employers, and it often means they aren’t being persistant enough.

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