I've had the luxury of a steady stream of interviews in the past month, with more scheduled for this week and into the following. Just last night, I had a conversation with someone who's far more qualified in their field than I am in mine, and he hasn't been able to get a single interview in three months time. Not the kind of thing that makes me optimistic for the future, but at the same time, makes me glad that whatever it is I'm doing is working to at least get my foot in the door.
Something that people tend to forget when looking for work is that the hiring process takes time. It's not like a klaxon siren goes off and a team of recruiters start routing your resume the moment you click "submit" or "apply" to a listing on CareerBuilder or Indeed.com or USAJOBS.com. No, in fact, it's far more likely that some place far away a new email has arrived in the inbox of a recruiter or human resources drone who's much more interested in the game of Bejeweled Blitz they're currently playing or the scandalous status posts of their Facebook friends. They may or may not be sipping on a cup of coffee or eating a liverwurst sandwich. Once they're done with that, they've got a list of things to procrastinate about, and if you're on it, you're way at the bottom. Regardless, they've got other things to deal with that have nothing to do with your job application.
For those of us looking for work, we've got nothing but the passage of time to occupy our minds. The rest of the world has things to do, places to be, people to meet. For us, fifteen minutes is an eternity during which our dreams rise, shine brightly, burn to cinder, and collapse back to earth in a tiny pile of ash. For them, fifteen minutes is a bathroom break and a trip to the Mr. Coffee.
The interviews scheduled this week are simply a reminder of this gap in perspective. Two of the three are positions I applied to three weeks ago or more and since wrote off. But all of my job hunting experience in the past and present shows that this is about average response time. The last time I changed jobs, I didn't receive a response to my application until one month after I submitted to it. Then, the interview process took an almost inconceivable five weeks. Which should've been a red flag for me, but of course I had my blinders on. Hell, I just took a part time job at Unnamed Homogenous Big Box Retailer, and that took four and half weeks from application to hire.
Point being, though the sense of urgency to gain employment is ever-present to the job seeker, the employer has the luxury of taking their sweet time. They're probably hiring for more than one position, on top of responding to a massive pile of unemployment claims and learning new txtspk and staying fresh on the list of Facebook smiley codes to impress their friends in chat.
Try this approach, one that's been incredibly helpful to my state of mind:
- Fill out the application
- Click "send"
- Forget you ever did it
- Move on to the next application
I'm certainly not saying you should completely forego follow up. By all means, follow up confidently with those applications you're most interested in. But don't get distracted by the ones that haven't called back. It's a quagmire that will only destroy your confidence. I've asked every interviewer I've met with, "What is your timetable for filling the position?" The answer is always the same: "As soon as possible, but not until we've found the right candidate." They're simply not going to move as fast as you'd like, they've got a deep pool of applicants to wade through. And if your focus every week is on the jobs you applied to last week, you'll lose hope and start to lose your mind.