To Call or Not to Call...contacting a hiring official after reaching "referred status" to snag the interview

Home Forums Careers To Call or Not to Call...contacting a hiring official after reaching "referred status" to snag the interview

This topic contains 11 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Shane Stryzinski 3 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #175420

    Colleen Corballis

    Hello all,

    I am a current temporary NPS employee searching for that elusive permanent position (ok, maybe even just the next step steps, I know! 🙂 ). I've recently been advanced to the "referred to hiring official" status for several positions through which I applied on USAjobs. I've been here many times before, and don't always make it to the interview stage. I was given advice from a hiring manager that calling to touch base at this point in the process is more of an annoyance than a good strategy. I'm trying to avoid falling into the definition of insanity--- I would like to figure out how to snag the interview! I'm especially concerned that I don't make the cut due to common misconceptions about my master's degree (landscape architecture) and it's relevance to these positions.

    Does anyone have any experience either as an applicant or hiring official?


  • #175440

    Mark Hammer

    The nuisance/insanity aspect is partly a function of time. Federal hiring decisions tend to take longer than many folks coming from outside the PS think they will. Soimetimes they ARE fast, but often much slower than one expects...especially if you're not applying from a position of strength (i.e., not in a permanent job already). Keep in mind that most federal hiring is done from within (keep in mind the tens of thousands of promotions each year), rather than via external recruitment, so the typical hiring manager is more accustomed to dealing with candidates who don't mind waiting a little longer because they already have a guaranteed paycheck.

    So, if the contact is made (what might be perceived as) "early" in the process, that can fall into the nuisance/nuts bin, where if the contact is made after some reasonable period of time, that falls more under the to-be-expected heading. I am in absolutely no position to counsel on where that magic dividing line is in your case.

    I will say that, from the survey comments I get to read, the topic of being left in the dark about where things are at comes up pretty often. Indeed, I imagine that the perennial gripe from applicants to federal jobs about how long it takes is partly a complaint about how long they had to wait until they got any sort of feedback whatsoever. Waiting 4 working days for feedback in a process that ends up taking 9 working days to make a hiring decision is not painful. Waiting 4 weeks to hear anything back in a process that takes 9 weeks is painful and exasperating for many. They may not mind waiting the 9 weeks quite so much if they had some sense along the way of what stage things were at and what everyone was still waiting for. Somebody in a selection board may be off having surgery or on vacation, or the T&E qualfiications may have been defined too narrowly (something that happens easily when the relevant training programs can go by many different names in different schools) and need some tweaking, or somebody involved in going through the files has a top-priority task suddenly dumped in their lap, but nobody tells you that. All you know is that nobody has gotten back to you to tell you anything. We all need to work on that part.

  • #175438

    I've spoken with a government careers expert and she suggested that it was okay for applicants to call if they haven't heard from an agency after 2-3 weeks. Email is passive and likely won't elicit a response, so a phone call is likely the way to go. I wouldn't leave a message, but try back at different times until you get a real person.

  • #175436

    Eric Melton

    I've had success sending a concise email to a hiring official/commander/C-level Chief.

    -something along the lines of, "Sir/Ma'am, I'm on the referral list for X, I've recently been leading X project / had X success, I'm very interested in the mission of your/X unit/agency, and would enjoy being a part of it/could contribute by X. Please give me serious consideration, and/or pass to the correct hiring offical".

    I only had one "negative" response, where someone actually said my email was "inappropriate"... but then they contacted me for interview too. 🙂

    I've been a selecting official, having to narrow down the field of applicants, and it's not easy. So if someone were to contact me and express serious interest, I'd give them a serious look.

  • #175434


    Hello. I find your question relevant when it comes to my world, since I too have applied to USAjobs and often wondered if I should call the manager. Funny thing, actually, about 10 minutes ago I called the hiring manager at USAjobs for an update on a application I sent in roughly 60 days ago. The woman was very nice and said she will look up my application and get back to me. So, unfortunately I can not give you any great advice-- I too would like to hear what feedback you get on your question. Good Luck!

  • #175432

    Dave Bell

    This is tricky. Sometimes you cannot determine who the hiring official is but if you can, I see nothing wrong with a short email ( I like Eric Melton's idea ). It does seem odd that your name went to the hiring official and you heard nothing else. I've been there too and that should never happen. Speaking from someone who has hired a fair number of employees, I would never treat applicants with such disrespect. I know - I've been on the receiving end.

    I believe that every person who was referred as a best-qualified applicant deserves an email or phone call - even if they were not interviewed. People need to know why I didn’t select them and what they could work on to be a more viable candidate. Simply telling people “thanks but no thanks” (i.e. not selected) helps no one and is a disservice to all stakeholders.

  • #175430

    Gabe Gabrielsen

    Call ... by all means call.

    Show initiative - tenacity and spunk.

    Your time is valuable - you have a career to plan.

    Don't be a wall flower - waiting for someone to ask you to a dance.

    If the answer is negative - move on. If they are still making a decsision wait.

    Don't waste time with emails - if they are still deciding it may come to light that you did call - you're a go getter.

    If they are mad cause you called - you didn't want to work for them anyway.

    That's my thoughts.


  • #175428

    Steve Ressler

    That's great to hear

  • #175426

    Colleen Corballis

    Wow, great feedback from everyone..thanks! Based on the diversity of responses, my conclusion is that each hiring official is unique in his/her preference, but odds are, it can't hurt and it might actually make all the difference. In an ideal world, we would be kept in the loop, or at least notified if the position is filled, but in my now 3 years of job app experience, that just isn't the case in either the public or private sector. Just too many applicants to handle individual responses. When I do receive a personal note though, I do go out of my way to thank them for the update and let them know how much it's appreciated and a rarity. The automated Fed job system just doesn't really allow for that kind of connection. Sadly, I just checked my applied jobs list in USAjobs, and I still have jobs from years ago with "reviewing applications" as the status...sometimes even the automated system isn't up to date!

    Well, I have reached the referred stage on a number of positions---sounds like the perfect set-up for a little experiment! Some emails, some calls, and some controls. I will let you all know the results!

  • #175424

    Margi Kenny

    A tactic I have been told that works is at the very least writing and sending a thank you card. During my months of job searching, 22 with the state of WA and following this practice a bit, I am unsure if it helps or not. I've only had one interview via my applications. I am not the greatest example, but this topic certainly interests me. Thanks for bringing it up.

  • #175422

    Mark Hammer

    Once upon a time, if you were truly interested in a particular position, you'd go to the trouble and expense of preparing all the necessary documents (which might include a lot of typing or paying for photocopies), filling out all the appropriate forms, and either paying for postage, or for the gas and time of dropping the package off. Clearly, if anyone went to that trouble, they were interested.

    Of course, the brave new world of e-recruitment, point-and-click application, and services that will send your CV out on your behalf to a bunch of potential employers that you may not even be aware of, means that receiving an application is not a 100% dyed in the wool indicator of serious interest in the position. It could just as easily be something you do to show your welfare officer that you are looking for work.

    It is also the case that people can apply for a lot of things that they aren't particularly well-suited for - sometimes because of a poorly written job ad, and sometimes because they figure "Ah, what the hell..." - and treat applying for work like buying a stack of scratch-n-win lottery tickets. That is, it's not THAT job they want, but ANY job that meets certain minimum criteria.

    I suspect that some form of followup demonstration of sincere interest is an increasingly relevant behaviour as it becomes easier and easier for people to apply for a great many positions without doing much more than pressing a mouse button a couple of times. Not just because it conveys what handing in a big brown envelope of documents used to signify, but also because electronic applications also results in much larger applicants pools and something needs to differentiate the seriously interested candidate from the mildly interested one.

    As someone with a research perspective, I wish to heck we had thought about this earlier in time, because it would have been interesting to have collected longitudinal data on hiring managers' attitudes towards such follow-up contacts pre-web/e-recruitment versus post.

  • #235216

    Shane Stryzinski

    I whave recently been referred to a hiring official but would like to take this post a step further. I met with the Deputy Director of the office I applied to (as chance would have it, the day prior to the announcement being published). I was notified by the Deputy Director that the anouncement was on USAJOBS and once I was referred to the hiring official (approximately two weeks later), I responded with this information and my interest in the office and position, but have not received a response.

    It is now going on week three since my application has been referred and I have not heard anything from the office nor has my status changed. Is it advisable to reach out to the Division Chief of the office? Should I not connect with the individual I met with for the informaitonal interview (to avoid being seen as a "nuisance")? What steps would you take in this predicament?

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