There’s a phrase I find relevant to the waiting process after submitting an application for a position:  “a watched pot never boils”.

You’ve spent time scouring the online search engine postings and come across one that excites you enough to respond. You review the description, complete the application online, answer questions, update your résumé and prepare a cover letter.  You do your due diligence and research the company.  You may have even submitted references, perhaps even as far as a preliminary phone or video pre-recorded interview.  Perfect!  Then, you anxiously sit back and wait for your efforts to elicit a response…and wait…and wait…and wait.  Now what?

A number of distracting questions creep their way into the crevices of your concerns.  Why aren’t they calling?  Should I call them?  Should I resend my information?  Did they receive my information?  How long should I wait?  What’s going on?

Keep in mind there is different activity taking place behind the scenes during numerous phases of the interview process.  Hundreds of applicants apply to any given posting and there may be only one person sifting through them while juggling other workloads.  Some postings are just “bait” posted by agencies to see what candidates are out there, and sadly enough, some are sorted by machine algorithms before they even reach a human connection.  Behind the scenes it’s a tedious process and I will cover them in a different article.

For this article’s Seasoned Advice: patience is a virtue!  While it’s difficult to focus on moving ahead when you’re waiting for opportunity to knock, it’s good to practice what I consider, Active Waiting.  Here are some ideas to keep your mind and body occupied that are positive and productive:

Volunteer:  if you are able to dedicate some altruistic time to support your local community, it’s a great way to stay busy and do something close to your heart.  Volunteering allows the ability to maintain a network of colleagues and connections.  Don’t take the attitude of only working at jobs that pay.  That’s poor form. You never know who you’re going to meet and what skills you can acquire.  Plus, a lot of perks may be offered in lieu of payment.  For example, I volunteer for film festivals and some of the perks are free/discounted tickets, complimentary screenings, t-shirts, free popcorn – fun stuff.   If you volunteer for an organization you support, consider it a privilege.  However, don’t do them any “favors”.  If the cause isn’t personal for you enough to be motivating, you won’t indulge or derive intrinsic value from the experience.  Volunteering should be a labor of love.

Internships:  (see “Volunteer”).  The same principles apply with internships.  If you are in-between jobs, or have an opportunity to do an internship while job hunting, it’s wise to consider it another great potential to network, participate in an event, and be active at a company that motivates you.  Most internships aren’t paid and some pay a minor stipend if you’re lucky.  Keep in mind though, you will be more involved in the inner workings of a firm with an internship vs. volunteer work, and that sometimes an internship is the best (and only) way to get a foot in the door or gain exposure to specific skill experience you may be desiring to acquire.  Some internships may even lead to a role in the company once one opens up.  There may also be a required amount of hours vs. volunteering, but that may work for your schedule at given times.  It it does, it’s an option worth considering.

Don’t Stop:  Literally hundreds of candidates apply for any given posting.  It takes time for them to go through everyone’s information.  Rule of thumb:  if a company is interested in your profile, they tend to call within a week or less.  Waiting longer?  Move on.  There are plenty of new postings that come online each day, particularly on Sundays and Mondays.  Keep checking the search engines, LinkedIn, your inner network and target companies that you’re interested in.  Stay in motion!  Don’t dwell on past submissions.  If you do, you may miss out on a different role better suited for you.

Learn New Tricks:  The waiting periods are occasions to take up a hobby, learn new software, take a class (continuing education courses are always fun), or brush-up on a program you’re rusty on.  Anything you may want to do to improve on for yourself that could inevitably increase your marketability is never a wasted effort.

Smell the Flowers:  One of the hardest endeavors of all is taking the time to just “be” and appreciate what you do have.  When you’re always on the go, you forget how to “stand still”.  It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially if you are unemployed and job hunting when emotions and stress levels run high.  Weekend time is suddenly not just for weekends.  Go to the park, enjoy a bike ride, set yourself up a picnic, visit a friend or relative, walk the beach, tackle an at-home project, join a meetup group, sit in on a yoga class, read a book – all during daytime, weekday hours.

My Seasoned Advice:  Volunteering and Internships are both ideal additions to your résumé and profile information.  Employers like seeing these extra interests an individual takes time to pursue outside of the work arena.  They demonstrate qualities as being well-rounded and active in your community, and sometimes they do lead to a paid role and spark interest.  Active Waiting is the best thing to do. Stay moving, keep sharp on your skills, continue applying even if you’ve run low on patience and are frustrated. Most of all, enjoy life.  Be Positive, Be Proactive and Stay Appreciative.

Need more help with your job search endeavors? Have questions? Send me an email and let’s talk.