Check email and voicemail frequently if you are looking for a job

Q:  I applied for a job 2 weeks ago and heard nothing for
about 2 weeks.  During that time, I checked my email and voicemail 1-2
times per week.  I was networking a lot and unable to access my
desktop.  When I returned to my desktop last Sunday, I found 3 emails
and 1 voicemail from a company.  I called back immediately and also
replied to one of the emails.  I received a terse email back from the
inside recruiter telling me that they filled the role already and tried
to reach me several times.  This seems wrong.  Can you comment?

A:  Many of us work with hiring managers who, once they receive the
approval to hire, move ahead like lightning.  Often times, the hiring
manager has had to present a business case on why the new hire is
needed.  When the role is finally approved, the need is now long overdue
and hence, very urgent.  Also, sometimes recruiters are evaluated based
on time to fill an opening.

There is a lesson learned here.  Job seekers should be checking email
and voicemail once per day (at least).  It is not unusual for
recruiters to work a few hours over the weekend, so that includes
Saturdays and Sundays as well.  Most recruiters expect candidates to
have cell phones, which would make checking a voicemail or email a
simple task.  Even if a cell phone is not available, a daily check if
your landline and email is a must.  I would even recommend checking
email and voicemail at least twice daily if you are searching for a job.

Responding in a timely manner also signals that you are seriously
interested in a role and a company.  When a candidate does not respond
immediately, it feels as if there is less interest in the role.  From my
desk, it is absolutely a positive sign when a candidate replies
quickly.  Although rare, sometimes a client will be so impressed by a
candidate presented early in the process, that the company will cancel
all interviews with additional candidates.  Again, although it is
unusual, it does happen.

If you don’t have a cell phone which provides access to your emails,
that might a be reasonable investment for your job search.  If you are
tied to your desktop, make sure that you are checking your email at
least once per day.  Ideally, I would suggest checking your email at
least 2-3 times per day, especially if you are actively searching for a
new job.  Most voicemail systems allow you to call in remotely and check
voicemail remotely.  I would suggest checking voicemail at least twice
per day too.

I think the expectation from a recruiter is that candidates would reply
to an email or return a phone call within 24 hours (maximum).  It sounds
like you were only checking emails and voicemails a few times per
week.  The recruiter was probably very interested in your background
(based on the number of attempted contacts) but may have ended up
feeling frustrated because he or she was unable to reach you.

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.