Use Timing to To Get in the Employer’s Door

“Timing is everything” is one of those, well, timeless sayings that applies to your job search. To help make yours impeccable, here’s answers to some of the most frequently questions about it we’ve heard.

Does it matter when I apply?

Unless a job posting lists a specific closing date, you should apply within 24 to 48 hours after the opening is announced. Once they identify a suitable candidate, recruiters and managers may stop reviewing resumes, so the earlier they see yours, the better.

When should I follow up?

Follow these guidelines:

  • Within three days of submitting your resume or application, call to introduce yourself, then follow up weekly until your status is clear.
  • Send a thank you note within 24 hours after interviews or phone screens.
  • Unless you receive specific instructions to the contrary, follow up three business days after an interview.

Remember to offer new information or highlight a key attribute each time you contact prospective employers. And although you don’t want to be a pest, it’s better to over-communicate than to under-communicate, especially in a crowded marketplace.

When does an employment gap become problematic?

Although non-technical folks can be out of work for six months or a year without alarming employers, the time frame is shorter for IT professionals. Explain what you’ve been doing to keep your skills current once you’ve been unemployed for 90 days.

How far back do employment verifications go?

There’s no time limit, but most companies go back 10 years when checking criminal records and as far back as necessary to verify education. They prefer to have references from managers you’ve worked for in the past three years, since they’re both easier to find and able to confirm your recent responsibilities and technical experience.

How long do employers keep resumes and applications?

Generally speaking, they hold on to resumes and applications for two years. However, when they start a new search, recruiters may not check the their database for candidates, so be sure to reach out if you’re interested in another position.

How far back should I go when recounting my work history?

The general rule is 10 years on your resume, but again the rules are a little different in IT. Since technology positions are more complex, you’ll need to supply greater detail about the technical environments you’ve work in and your recent accomplishments. Focus on the roles you’ve had over the last three to five years and your experience with relevant technology. For older positions, list only the company name, your dates of employment, job title and a brief description of what you did.

Finally, never invite doubt. Eliminate employers’ concerns by highlighting your relevant skills and experience, and pay attention to timing.

2 Responses to “Use Timing to To Get in the Employer’s Door”

  1. Leslie, there are some things i’m not clear about:

    What happens when a job posting does list a secific closing date — should i apply even sooner than 24 hrs or much later than 48 hours?

    How do i follow up after submitting my resume when i don’t have a contact phone number or email, or if the posting says not to? It would be better if HR simply acknowledged receipt of the application. Some actually do this.

    Do HR people really want us to pester them with endless follow-ups and thank yous? I know that if i were seeking a worker, nothing would put me off more than an applicant who kept pestering me with follow-ups (unless there is new information, of course).

    Are HR people that shallow? Maybe we should just change the system so that whoever gives them the right bribe should get the job!

  2. Leslie Stevens-Huffman

    Dear Feumar,

    The sooner the better when applying to online job postings, especially if the job is easy to fill. You can still apply after the job has been posted for 48 hours but your chances diminish with each passing day. Use social media, Internet searches, networking and the telephone to ferret out the names of recruiters and hiring managers. Successful candidates aren’t deterred. They express interest in the position, offer solutions and set themselves apart by building relationships with influential people. Remember: Out of sight is out of mind in today’s competitive job market.

    Good luck.