The job search process can be confusing.
It can feel like you need to consult a psychic, or at the very least, every single friend who’ll listen to you. You want to know if what you’re experiencing is normal or if you’re on your way to getting burned.
One common, hard-to-understand scenario is feeling like you’re responsible for moving the process forward.
Whenever you reach out to the hiring manager, she schedules you for the next step, but you’re the person initiating contact—every time. You feel good that you’re “still alive” and the email exchanges and interviews themselves seem to go well, but you can’t help but feel like there’s mixed messages. If you hadn’t been in touch, would the opportunity have faded away with the hiring manager?
Case in Point
A friend of mine was recently a finalist for a job, and her experience went like this:
A mutual contact referred her, and she met up with her prospective boss for an informational interview. She thought they built an instant rapport. He invited her to a formal interview, saying he’d call her the next day to set it up. After three days had passed, she reached out to him. He responded that he’d like to interview her that Friday and would send on an itinerary shortly.
Thursday night came, and with no sign of an itinerary, she contacted him again. He sent the information right on—and asked to bump the interview to Monday.
She was still very enthusiastic about the company, and according to her, the interview went great. She had friendly conversations with the team she’d be working with, nailed the answers to common questions, and could picture herself working there. In fact, she was told to expect to hear something with a day or two.
Guess what happened next?
After a month of being told: “I’ll follow up in a few days,” she got ghosted.
I understand why my friend felt blindsided—and let down. After all, the interviewer always sounded positive, always replied, and kept moving her through the process.
But here’s the part of her story that fall into the not normal category: It’s literally a hiring manager’s job to be in touch with the best candidates. And while everyone’s sent an email later than promised, it’s not normal for you to do the legwork—every step of the way.
What This Means for You
Don’t let this dissuade you from following up (and here’s an email template to help you do that). But, do pay attention to whether you’re sending actual “follow up” messages (e.g., sending on additional information and thank you’s) or if you’re the one running your own hiring process.
The latter’s often a sign that what you’re being told about your candidacy doesn’t match up with your actual chances—and there’s a good chance you’re out of the running.
On the bright side—yes, there really is one!—being honest with yourself can keep you from being blindsided. So, instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket, you’ll keep applying to other companies as well, and land somewhere that’s truly interested in hiring you.
This piece was originally published by The Muse.