Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join us as we talk about…

In this week’s episode…

  • You’ll learn how to handle not hearing back from a potential employer
  • Next you’ll learn 5 tips that will help during the period of silence
  • Finally, you’ll learn how to use this as a learning opportunity and how to refine your job search strategies moving forward.

When you’re in the middle of a job search as a PhD, few things are as disheartening as the sudden radio silence from a potential employer.

You were talking on LinkedIn or by email, or maybe they reached out to you for a conversation, or perhaps you even went through multiple rounds of interviews and sent your thank-you emails—only to be met with an unexpected and unsettling quiet.

If you find yourself staring at your inbox with growing anxiety, here’s how you can navigate this challenging scenario with professionalism and poise. The follow-up is your first course of action.

Wait for a period of at least one to two weeks after your last point of contact or the timeframe they mentioned for a decision. Then, send a polite email to your point of contact. Keep it concise: reiterate your interest in the position, say that you’re looking for an update, and ask if there’s any additional information they need from you. It’s important to remain courteous and professional, even if you’re feeling ignored—your message could be the nudge that gets you a response.

Next, reflect on the process. While waiting for a response, take a moment to reflect on your past conversations. Review your interactions with the employer for any potential missteps or areas for improvement. This isn’t about assigning blame but about understanding the situation from a broader perspective. Consider whether the organization’s communication style during the interview process was consistent and professional. Sometimes, a lack of response can be a red flag about the company culture.

Third, network and inquire. If you have connections within the company, now might be a good time to use them. Reach out to your contact in a casual, non-invasive way. They might be able to provide you with some insight or even advocate on your behalf. However, make sure your inquiry is discreet and professional—you don’t want to come across as pressuring or overbearing.

Fourth, keep the momentum going. Don’t put your job search on hold while waiting for one employer. Continue to apply for other positions, network, and expand your skills. Not only does this enhance your employability, but it also ensures that you’re not placing all your hopes on one opportunity. This will also psychologically help you to feel less dependent on the response from any one particular employer.

Fifth and finally, decide on a date by which you’ll move on if you haven’t received a response. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll decline the position if they reach out later, but it does mean you’ll mentally release yourself from the expectation of hearing back. Mark this date in your calendar and commit to focusing your energies elsewhere after this time. Importantly, make sure you don’t spaz out during this time. Avoid bombarding the employer with messages or showing frustration. This can harm your professional reputation. Additionally, resist the temptation to air your grievances on social media, as this is likely to backfire and could damage future job prospects.

In the end, an employer’s lack of response is a piece of information in itself. It can be an indicator of their workplace culture, how fast the company moves and how structured their processes are, for better or worse. Whether or not you receive the response you’re hoping for, use this experience as a learning opportunity to refine your job search strategies and to grow in resilience and professionalism. Remember, the right opportunity with an employer who respects your time and talents is out there waiting for you.

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