Do I have to check email over the weekend?

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A:  Yes, yes and yes.  We expect eager and interested candidates to reply over weekends, long weekends and even vacations (sometimes).  If we hear from a candidate that they are “off the grid” and attending a wedding, funeral or other important life event, we don’t expect them to check in during one of these important life moments.  However (and this is a big however), we do expect candidates to check email and voicemail over the weekend, a long weekend or even a vacation.  Although I agree that smart phones are both a blessing and a curse, they can be helpful in reaching candidates at odd or unusual times.  Sometimes offers are discussed, finalized and extended over the weekend.

If you are an interested candidate, you should be checking email and voicemail over the weekend.  If you are truly unreachable, you should explain that to your recruitment contact.  “Chris, I have a family wedding this weekend.  I won’t be available most of Saturday, but I could check my email on Sunday evening.  Is that ok?”  When you demonstrate interest and open up your schedule to communicate about an opportunity, that signals strong interest.  Strong interest often triggers momentum.  This all can move an offer forward, from a verbal offer to a written offer.  Ideally all involved want a written offer in front of a strong candidate, and then ultimately an acceptance of the written offer.

If a candidate does not reply over a weekend, a recruiter or hiring manager can sometimes get anxious and “read” into this, and perhaps assume that the candidate is not interested.  Although this may be inaccurate, this is not a situation where you want “mixed signals” to be part of the communication efforts at this stage of the process.

I will share my biggest pet peeve, from a candidate perspective.  I have asked candidates to “stay close to email over the next few days” hundreds of times.  When a candidate does not respond for a day or so, that sends a signal to me that the candidate is not seriously interested in this role.  It is a yellow flag for sure.  Don’t send a yellow flag when you should be waving a green flag!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.