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The Job Search Waiting Game - What to Do When You Don't Hear Back

You spend hours crafting the perfect resume and cover letter. You submit your application and wait anxiously for a response. A week goes by, then two, and still - nothing.


You finally land an interview, thinking you aced it. But once again, you're left hanging with no employer follow-up.


The agony of waiting to hear back in today's job market is all too real for many job seekers. With online applications making applying easier than ever, companies are inundated with submissions. HR teams often can't follow up with every candidate.


As a career coach, I've seen smart, qualified professionals struggle with the uncertainty of not hearing back after job applications and interviews. It leaves you wondering:


  • Should I follow up or wait it out?

  • Is it a bad sign that they haven't contacted me?

  • Is the position already filled and they didn't update the listing?

  • Did I say something wrong during the interview?

  • Should I withdraw and focus my efforts elsewhere?


It's normal to feel disappointed and frustrated when a prospective employer goes radio silent after you’ve put time and effort into the application process. But don’t let it derail your search. Here are some tips for staying productive while playing the dreaded job search waiting game.

Why You Might Not Be Hearing Back

First, don’t immediately assume the worst if you don’t get a quick response. There are many reasons – often out of your control – why an employer may not have responded yet.


  • They’re still collecting and reviewing applicants before scheduling interviews. Don’t expect to hear back within days of applying.

  • The hiring manager you’re in contact with doesn’t have the autonomy to make a unilateral decision. They must discuss candidates with a team or supervisor before making a final hiring choice.

  • They made an offer to another candidate first and are waiting to hear back before proceeding.

  • A higher-priority project came up that put hiring on the back burner.

  • They filled the role internally or decided not to fill it.

  • Budget cuts are causing a hiring freeze.

  • The needs of the role have changed.


Any of these issues can cause delays and a lack of communication. Please don’t take it as a judgment on you or your qualifications. Patience and persistence are key.

Following Up Gracefully

Following up if you’ve heard nothing after two or three weeks since applying or one week since interviewing is fine. Just make sure to do it strategically.


If you applied through an online system, see if you can find the hiring manager’s name and contact information through LinkedIn or a company directory. A quick email checking on the status of your application is usually fine. Write something like:


Dear [Name],


I recently applied for the [position] role at [company] and wanted to check if you had any updates on the hiring timeline. I’m very interested in the opportunity and would be a great fit. I look forward to hearing from you.


Thank you,

[Your name]


After interviews, always send a thank you note acknowledging your appreciation for their time. If you still don’t hear anything after a week, a short follow-up is appropriate:


Dear [Name],


I wanted to thank you again for taking the time to speak with me about the [position] role last week. It was great learning more about [something positive you learned]. Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide, or if you have an update on the hiring timeline for the position. I look forward to hearing from you.


Thank you,

[Your name]


The key is to be gracious and professional, not pushy or entitled. Avoid flooding their inbox or calling repeatedly. That will only hurt your chances.

What To Do in the Meantime

Waiting around and doing nothing while hoping to hear back will only drive you crazy with stress and uncertainty. Use the application and interview waiting periods productively to continue strengthening your candidacy.


  • Keep applying to other promising job openings. Don’t bank all your hopes on one application.

  • Prepare for future interviews by practicing responses and researching companies.

  • Expand your network by connecting with professionals at target companies.

  • Take a course to build relevant skills.

  • Refine your resume, cover letter templates, online profiles, and other application materials.

  • Revamp your LinkedIn profile to showcase your achievements.


Staying proactive keeps your confidence and motivation up while waiting to hear back. And who knows – you may get a better opportunity in the end. Don’t stall your job search waiting for one employer.

Waiting Is Part of the Job Search Process

The silence between applying and hearing from the employer is frustrating. But with the right perspective and strategic follow-up, you can endure the uncertainty. Don’t let the waiting game defeat you. Stay focused on putting your best foot forward and actively pursuing new opportunities. Perseverance will pay off with the right role.


Have you struggled with not hearing back after job applications or interviews? What strategies helped you stay encouraged? Share your experiences in the comments.


Want more free advice? Schedule a session with a VSN career coach.


As a Career Coach at Easterseals Veteran Staffing Network VSN), Michael Robinson guides veterans, military spouses, and transitioning service members toward fulfilling careers. Michael's experience spans diverse roles from hiring manager to career counselor, giving him unparalleled insight into both employment opportunities and candidate needs. Before joining the VSN, he served as a Department of Labor Transition Assistance Program (DOL TAP) Facilitator, guiding service members and their spouses through the nuances of the military-to-civilian transition.


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