Following up with prospective employers can be a tricky proposition. On the one hand, you want to assure the company that you are truly interested in the position and are excited to work for the company. On the other hand, you don’t want to appear to be an overanxious, desperate stalker that calls every day for updates and annoys staff and the very people you are trying to impress.

First, it is important to realise that employers are biding their time in today’s market in an attempt to assure the best match between company and candidate. As frustrating as it is to you, the candidate, companies have this luxury these days. The time between posting an open position to actually making a hiring decision can be months.

The first place to start with your follow-up is actually at the interview itself. Ask when they expect to make a hiring decision and find out how you will be notified of that decision, whether or not you get the job. Companies realise that their hiring practices have become long and drawn out; so, they will understand your position.

Next, always follow up an interview – even a telephone interview – with a thank-you card addressed to the person who interviewed you. I do not say this tongue in cheek – I’ve actually seen candidates simply address these to the ‘HR Manager’ or some other job title. Taking good notes at the interview is essential for follow-up. Do not lose track of the names and job titles of those people with whom you have contact at each company. Not even the secretaries. It is important that these notes go out immediately following the interview.

Your first follow-up phone call should occur 7-10 days after the interview, unless you are informed the hiring decision will be made sooner. Do not be discouraged if you get a secretary or assistant. An assistant can be a job hunter’s best friend – if you make a good impression on the assistant, he or she may be willing to give you inside information on hiring status.

The next question becomes, how often do I make contact? That is a more difficult question to answer. Making daily contact is simply out of the question, even if the employer tells you the decision will be made quickly. However, waiting a month for contact is too long. A reasonable follow-up schedule is once per week until you receive notice of the results.

With the lengthy hiring process we are seeing, a pertinent question becomes, When do I give up? The answer is simple: Follow-up ends when you get a job, or when you find out that someone else has been hired for the position.