The hiring process today can feel like flying into a black hole; you aren’t sure what to expect, you can’t see what’s going on and you don’t have a lot of control over the outcome. The waiting part of a high stakes job search can be agonizing for candidates.
Fortunately, companies are increasingly embracing transparency. Some utilize tracking systems where candidates can check on the status of their applications, while others outline their whole hiring process in detail, so you know exactly what to expect. However, if you do encounter an application process that isn’t crystal clear, there are still ways to gather information.
While a lucky few employers can manage to complete the hiring process in a lightning fast two weeks, the timeline can stretch to two months or more in some industries. The time to hire -- from when a position is posted to the extension of an offer -- currently averages around 35 days. Still, this can feel never-ending to a job seeker. Understanding possible timeframes from the start will better enable you to manage expectations and reduce anxiety.
A typical hiring process today may include the following milestones, each requiring time to coordinate and complete:
The timeline for your application process may vary based on a variety of factors (including unexpected delays).
Here are some questions to consider if it's taking a while:
Keep in mind that while a job search may be a major priority in your life, many recruiters are managing multiple positions with hundreds of applicants simultaneously. It is appropriate to ask questions to set expectations about the process and to follow up if those expectations are not met; hiring is a two-way street. However, patience and flexibility will go a long way in preserving a positive professional relationship. When navigating communication, ask yourself if the information you seek is necessary at this point or just desired.
Generally, if applicants are respectful and polite, recruiters (both those employed by a single company and those working for external hiring agencies) will be happy to answer questions and provide details (when available), but it’s important to ‘read the room’ based on their response (or lack thereof).
Recruiters often receive a large volume of candidate questions daily; they simply may not have the capacity to respond to each applicant individually. If the posting or follow up message clearly states that only applicants moving forward will receive additional communication, do not follow up unless you are selected to move forward. When follow up is appropriate, sending an email, LinkedIn message or a voicemail with a detailed question allows the recruiter time to review your question, follow up with others, and then respond, reducing cumbersome back and forth.
Some general Do’s and Don’ts to consider:
While you may not have as much control over the hiring process as you’d like, here’s what you can do in the meantime:
Editor's Note: This article has been updated since its original publication in October 2020.