"ASK HR" is our advice column where we answer readers' questions about pressing work dilemmas, job search queries, resumes, and navigating Hollywood. If you have a career-related question, email us, and the answer could appear in a future newsletter! All submissions will remain anonymous.
Dear Hollywood Resumes,
I had a job interview back in March, two days before the industry shut down and the quarantine went into effect. Now that it's almost four months later, with no real end in sight to the "new normal," should I check back in with the company? Or is it too late? If I do follow up, should I be generic and ask about how they've been faring in the pandemic, or should I be direct and ask if they are hiring again soon?
-- Waiting and Wondering
Dear Waiting and Wondering,
It's not too late! It's possible (but unlikely) that they already filled the role, and it's certainly possible that they decided against filling it altogether or are otherwise in a hiring freeze. But since there's the distinct third possibility that they're starting to adapt their business practices to the new normal for the long haul, they may still be looking to fill the role. You won't know unless you ask! If they are revisiting the hiring process, following up now will let them know you're still interested and available. If the role is filled or non-existent, you'll be opening lines of communication for the future and reiterating your interest in the company. That's no small thing; many job applicants move on to the next available opportunity and apply anywhere that's hiring, but the best way to get the job you really want is to target a few specific companies and let them know you're eager to work for them. And persistence often pays off!
When you follow up, make sure to use the initial email chain you used to set the interview and send your thank you email. That'll help them contextualize who you are and when you last spoke. Be direct and thoughtful. Try something like, "I hope you and your family are staying safe during this uncertain time. I'm checking in to see if you have an updates on the hiring process for X role, as I am still very interested in the opportunity. I understand the process has likely been affected by the pandemic, but I would love to know if the position is still open or if you have any additional insight."
As with all follow-ups, there's a difference between showing interest and being a pest. If they respond that they aren't sure when they will be hiring again, it's okay to check back in in a month or so (depending on how drastically the pandemic surges or abates; if a new safer-at-home order is in place, you can probably assume they still aren't hiring). If the position is filled, a simple "Thank you for letting me know. I'm still excited about the prospect of working for your company and would love to be considered for future roles" will do for now, and you can follow up if another posting goes up or at a natural check-in time, like the holidays. If they don't respond at all, you can ping them again in two weeks, but that's it; avoid following up often if they aren't responding or have indicated that they're not hiring any time soon. Though more regular follow-ups might have been good practice before the pandemic, they may be perceived as annoying now, when most people have a lot on their plates. Take any continued radio silence as an indication that the role is not a priority and wait until a new job posting opens up to check in again. The key is to make sure you come off as interested, respectful, and non-oblivious.
-- Angela & Cindy