Job applications: Follow up or give up?

This is the million-dollar question international students ask themselves about job applications: Should I follow up or give up?

Both students who have undergone an interview and those who have not even heard back from the application may feel conflicted about following up. It can be rude to chase up a potential employer.

So, after weeks of endless waiting, you sit in front of your computer, continuously refreshing your inbox page. Then you think to yourself, I thought everything went well so why haven’t they replied?

Response Time: How long is too long?

The time in-between sending your application and hearing back has been known to be the most challenging – especially when the employers aren’t getting back to you. How long is too long to wait for a response?

Well, according to a student we interviewed from the University of Melbourne who wished to stay anonymous, waiting between two to four weeks is almost the standard time before an employer responds to you. Even so, the response time for an application does vary from job to job, although it’s safe to say that it’s completely normal for the employer’s response to not be as quick as you expect. Hence why being patient is the key while waiting to hear back from the employer.

Sometimes even a short waiting period can seem like months. Wesley, a Monash University student currently working part-time at a local Chinese restaurant resonates with this. After several days of sending in his application, he was contacted by his employer, after which led to a scheduled interview. Though he had not waited for even a week, he “still felt pressured” as he was in dire need of work.

However, the speed with which employers respond depends on job vacancies and hiring periods. As stated by Julie Tsamis from the Trinity College human resources department, before accepting or even considering an applicant the employer must extensively check out the applicant to see if they tick all the boxes and have the right qualifications.

In the current digital age, vetting social media profiles are also a regular practice to ensure that your potential employee can represent the company appropriately. Such processes take time which contributes to the waiting period.

Taking control of your application

Admittedly, it’s beyond frustrating waiting at your laptop, anxiously refreshing your inbox in hopes of receiving a response for your candidacy. Whilst there is nothing you can do to control your interviewer’s course of action, it may bring you comfort to know that there are some steps you can take into your own hands to set up a more desirable situation for yourself.

Most interviewers end the session off with the dreaded line of “we will get in touch with you soon”, leaving a window of ambiguity for the interviewee, who’s left wondering how soon “soon” really is. To combat this, ask the interviewer at the end of the interview when you should be anticipating his or her response. Not only will the interviewer be required to give an answer, clearing your doubts also paints you as an individual who takes initiative, as well as demonstrates your earnestness towards the job. Go a step further to reinforce your interest in the job and stand out amongst other candidates by sending the interviewer a follow-up email expressing thanks within a day of the interview.

Although you may desperately want to get your hands on a particular job, it’s a good idea to keep your options open and send in applications for other companies as well. If the company decides that you’re not the right fit for them, at least you have other options to consider as well. Never leave all your eggs in one basket!

Maximising applications

To maximise your chance of a callback, there are several things a student can do to enhance their applications. Here are some tips to take job hunting to the next level.

Don’t stick to one application

Investing your time in just one application can leave you demoralised if you get rejected. Instead, focus on self-development. Sometimes, the perfect job is not the right job for you. By applying to a variety of positions, you are able to find a good fit for your skillset.

Develop your resume well

Your CVs should contain your information and skills that match the job. Different companies have different needs to make sure your resume and cover letter contains only the most relevant information.

Never give up

You will only fail if you stop trying. Don’t stop applying to other jobs to increase your chances of landing one. If you aren’t hearing back at all, remember that companies receive hundreds if not thousands of applications and may not have the time to email each applicant back.

Knowing how to follow up

After submitting the applications, don’t just let it lead to radio silence. Knowing how and when to follow up is vital in increasing your chances of landing a job. Now, here are some tips on when to follow up on your application.

Email a week after

It is perfectly acceptable to email a week or two after you submit an application or go through an interview. Remember to be tactful and not come across too aggressive or obsessive. Tell them you appreciated the opportunity to apply/come in for the interview and look forward to hearing back.

Calling your potential employer

Calling is efficient but should be exercised with caution. Never become that person that calls every week because this may impact negatively on your application. That being said, calling once or twice can be a good way to find out what stage the application process is at and their decision. Don’t be afraid because following up can make you stand out in the mind of some employers.

Ask for feedback

If you receive a rejection after the interview process, don’t be disheartened and instead ask for feedback. Every failure is a lesson and with the feedback provided, you can improve your interview skills for future applications.


This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via meld@meldmagazine.com.au.

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