5 things you should never do while waiting to hear back about a job

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Your job interview went great, and the employer said you'd hear something soon. But it's been a week, your phone hasn't rung, and you're getting antsy to hear from them. When you're waiting to hear back about a job, time often seems like it's passing incredibly slowly, and each day of silence can be agony.

But as anxious as you are to hear something, make sure that anxiety doesn't drive you to actions that will actually harm your chances. Here are five things you might be tempted to do while waiting to hear something – but which you should never, ever do.

1. Check in aggressively.
It can be nerve-wracking to wait to hear back from an employer after an interview. But if you give into those nerves by contacting before you should or too many times, you risk undermining the good impression you hopefully made when you met with the employer. That means you shouldn't check in before their timeline for making a decision has elapsed; email and then email again when you don't get a response to your first message after a day or two; or call repeatedly and hang up when you get voicemail (which looks pretty stalker-ish on caller ID).

The reality is that hiring often takes much, much longer than either side expects it to. But if an employer wants to hire you, they're not going to forget about you. If you're the strongest candidate, you don't need to do anything to keep yourself in the forefront of the hiring manager's mind; you're already there. Following up once – after the timeline they give you for hearing something has passed – is fine. But, beyond that, all you can do is be patient and wait.

2. Bluff by saying you have another job offer when you really don't.
If you have another offer that you need to respond to, it makes sense to contact any other employers you're waiting to hear from and let them know of the offer and any associated time constraints.

But sometimes a job candidate, eager to move the process along and get a decision, will make up an offer, hoping that it'll push the employer to move faster. This is a dangerous move, because there's a good chance that the employer will tell you: "We can't expedite things on our end and don't want to prevent you from taking another offer, so we'll remove you from consideration on our end."

3. Stop applying and interviewing for other jobs.
No matter how well your interview went, no matter how perfectly suited for the job you are and no matter how enthusiastic your interviewers appeared to be about your candidacy, never assume that you have the job in the bag. Even if positive signs seem to be raining down upon you, a better candidate could emerge, the CEO's nephew might need a job, they might freeze hiring altogether – and all sorts of other things could prevent you from getting an offer.

Until you actually have an offer, don't count on getting any particular job. Keep job searching just as actively as you would have if you knew you weren't getting this job – because if you don't get it, you don't want to have wasted weeks waiting for it when you could have been talking with other employers.

4. Go on vacation and become inaccessible without giving the employer a heads up.
You don't need to put your life on hold while you're waiting to hear about a job – in fact, you shouldn't. But if you're going to be inaccessible for more than a couple of days, and you're at the finalist stage of interviewing, you should let the employer know. Otherwise, you risk them contacting you with an offer or for another conversation, not hearing back, assuming you're no longer interested and moving forward with other candidates instead.

So if you're going away and won't have phone or email access, just send the employer a quick email to let her know that's the case and when you'll return.

5. Agonize and obsess. Why haven't they called yet? Should you have heard something by now? Does the lack of contact indicate they're not interested? If you can't find the job ad anymore, does it mean they hired someone else? If the hiring manager looks at your LinkedIn profile, does that mean they're getting ready to make you an offer?

Trying to read into every detail like this is a recipe for a miserable few weeks (or even months). You're far better off putting the job out of your head and mentally moving on after you interview. Obsessing won't do anything to increase your chances, but it will make you miserable. Instead, mark your calendar to check in with them once at an appropriate point in the future if you haven't heard back. Otherwise, put the job out of your mind, and let it be a pleasant surprise if you receive an offer.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search and management issues. She's the author of "How to Get a Job: Secrets of a Hiring Manager," co-author of "Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results" and the former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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5 things you should never do while waiting to hear back about a job

1. Email signature.

Your email signature is possibly one of the most important branding tools you're not taking advantage of. It’s your chance to let everyone know what your expertise is, how to contact you and where to learn more about you online. Employees are often required to add the company logo, tag line and contact information to email signatures. As job seekers, an email signature is a subtle way to remind people what you do.

Quick tips: The most important information to include is your name, phone number, email address, desired occupation and link to your LinkedIn profile. An easy solution is to use an app like WiseStamp to create and insert your signature.

(Photo: Getty)

2. Active and robust LinkedIn presence. 

LinkedIn has become a go-to source for companies of all sizes to seek out talent. While your profile will be similar to your résumé, it is not exactly the same. LinkedIn is a social network where people share information. Besides having a profile rich in content and media, you should also share newsworthy articles to help build your online reputation and stay connected with your network.

Quick tips: You must have a headshot, a headline that describes what you do and a summary where you tell your story. But don’t stop there. Embed a presentation that summarizes your experience or includes testimonials. Have you downloaded the SlideShare app for LinkedIn? What about the LinkedIn Connected or Pulse apps? ​These tools give you a better mobile LinkedIn experience.

(Photo: Getty)

3. An easily accessible, on-the-go résumé

There will be occasions when someone wants you to send your résumé ASAP or when you arrive at an interview and your résumé is MIA. Save your résumés so you can easily access them and share them from your mobile device.

Quick tip: Being able to access important documents from anywhere is critical not only in your job search, but at work, too. Learn how to save and share documents using Dropbox or Google Drive, which provide free storage and are easily accessible from any device.

(Photo: Getty)

4. Business cards. 

This may seem old-fashioned, but business cards make life easier. When you meet someone new or reconnect with an old friend, just hand him or her your card at the end of the conversation.

Quick tip: Your business card need only include the information you want to share: your name, occupation (or desired occupation), phone number, email address and links to any social media profiles, like your LinkedIn URL. If you want to use something more high-tech, try one of the apps that allows you to share your card from your phone, like CardDrop. Or pick up a business card with FullContact’s Card Reader.

(Photo: Getty)

5. Your perfected pitch.

You only have one chance to make a great first impression. Don’t blow it. You’ll need it when you meet people and they ask what you do. You’ll also need one customized for every interview you take. Your pitch conveys what problem you can solve for an employer. Use words and language to ensure your unique style and personality come through. And avoid résumé-speak or jargon that isn’t universally understood.

Quick tip: Keep your pitch under a minute, and practice so it sounds natural. If you need some guidance, check out the myPitch app created by Karalyn Brown of InterviewIQ.

(Photo: Getty)

6. Target list of potential employers.

Rather than searching job boards all day, looking for the perfect job and getting lost in the black hole of applications, why not approach people inside companies you would like to work for? This route is more work up front, but it will help you stand out and rise to the top of the referral pile if you make the cut.

Quick tip: There are tons of apps for finding posted jobs, but what you really need is additional help networking. Don’t miss Alison Doyle’s new app called Career Tool Belt. It's loaded with job hunting tips, including the 30 Days to your Dream Job series to guide you day by day.

(Photo: Getty)

7. A dose of motivation.

Job searching tends to lead to frustration. Rejection is an unfortunate part of the process. Invest time doing things that rejuvenate your energy and keep you feeling hopeful, such as exercising, volunteering or learning a new skill. Keep moving forward and create to-do lists and follow-up actions every day.

Quick tip: Whether you use a calendar system or an organizational app like Any.do, mapping out your weekly activities helps maintain momentum and puts you in the driver’s seat.

(Photo: Getty)

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