So, you’ve done it.
You’ve buffed up on 10 Powerful Ways to Stand Out as a Job Seeker. You’ve had the date on your calendar for weeks. You dry-cleaned your suit, pressed your shirt and polished your shoes (which you haven’t done since the age of 10, if ever).
You’ve sat in a waiting room, possibly with several other applicants, and willed the day to be over. You’ve talked about your strengths, your weaknesses, how much you’ve always had a passion for (insert job type here) and attempted a joke about the interviewer’s lack of sleep. (There’s a photo of a baby on her desk.)
The Job Interview Is Over. Now What?
If you think the hardest part is over, think again, my friend. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE’s) 2012 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey, employers hiring new college graduates take an average of 24 business days after an interview to extend an offer. This, says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director, is “a relatively narrow time frame.”
We beg to differ. Taking this long to offer a job certainly is not one of our 6 Key Characteristics of a Kick-A** Recruiter.
What this “narrow time frame” actually equates to is anything up to five weeks—because those are business days—and perhaps longer (remember, 24 is the average) to discover whether or not you got the job. Bearing in mind that in these challenging economic times, the perfect job is hard to come by, having to wait several weeks to receive an offer may seem like adding insult to injury.
So Why Does Interview-to-Offer Take So Long?
Let’s look at this from the employer’s perspective. While it may seem they have a far easier task, they’re under pressure, too. If anything, the harder the economic downturn bites, the more they are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking out the crème de la crème of graduate talent.
The decision may involve multiple parties (at least one of whom is guaranteed to be on vacation), they may want to chase references and they probably don’t want to leave any stone unturned in the recruitment process. Add to that the admin tasks, the loss of work hours spent interviewing and the need to please a swathe of fellow employees, and suddenly 24 days doesn’t seem so long after all.
The interview-to-offer cycle also differs significantly across industries. If you’re applying to a computer and electronics manufacturer, for example, you’re looking at around 16 days for an offer to come your way. Accounting job offers come in marginally later, with an average of 17 days, and other business services positions take 18. At the other end of the spectrum, the recreation and hospitality industries can really make you wait, taking a lengthy 39.5 days to get in touch, while government agencies just squeeze in under that with a 38-day average. Engineering services and construction have similar time frames, both at about 30 days.
How to Make the Waiting Work for You
But wait! Don’t despair! Let’s say you’ve applied for a handful of jobs, all of which will take at least three weeks to extend an offer to you. This is actually valuable reflection time for you to see how right you really are for the position. This is where you can take some time to think back to your experience of the interview (and the application process as a whole) and decide whether this one really has your name on it.
How did you feel when you entered the venue? Were you nervous because of your own nerves, or did your interviewer(s) perhaps contribute to your sense of unease? What kind of people did you meet when you were there? Can you see yourself working there and enjoying the experience?
Because when the offer is extended to you—and one will be extended to you; just keep plugging away—you can take your time to respond! While you can’t be quite as leisurely with your answer as, say, a government official or an events executive, once you’ve received an offer, NACE tells us that employers then give the candidate an average of about 14 business days to make a decision. That’s two whole weeks to decide whether they’re for you!
Just remember the Guinness ad line: good things come to those who wait. If the job’s right for you, the wait will be more than worth it, and if your name’s not on this one, it’s because there’s something better on the horizon. Just keep going. No experience is a wasted experience.
Amy Noble is a freelance writer, copy editor, proofreader and general grammar-obsessive living in London, England.