I have this issue that’s been nagging at me for a little while. I applied to my dream job in my dream city back in late October, and heard back fairly quickly. The person who would be my superior (PWWBMS) emailed me directly and asked me to complete a (seemingly straightforward, but in reality quite intensive and complex) sample project to test my skills, which I completed and turned in. The PWWBMS wrote back confirming the receipt of the project and said they would be in touch in the next couple of weeks. Spoiler: They didn’t! It has now been over four months and now I am kicking myself for not following up earlier on – maybe a month after PWWBMS’s email. I figured that since they had already acknowledged receiving my work the ball was in their court, and then when one, two, three months went by, that they had already found someone else. But looking back, a part of me wants to follow up with PWWBMS even though it’s been so long because ok yes, I’m a little hurt that I spent a long time (8+ hours!) on the project and would like at least some closure. Is this a good idea? Should I have followed up earlier? Save me from myself, Billfold! — S.
Is four months a long time to wait to do a follow-up? Yes, that is a long time to wait. You should have asked for a timeline on the hiring process when you turned in the sample project so you knew when the hiring decision was going to be made (“Thank you so much for the opportunity—can you give me a timeline on the next steps in the hiring process?”).
That said, there would be no harm in following up now—you worked hard on a project they asked you to do, and the least they could have done was notify you that they went with another candidate (or who knows, maybe they never ended up hiring anyone).
Following up now could also lead to other opportunities. I once applied for an editor job at a print magazine, and as part of the application process, I was asked to put together an entire magazine section, which took me two full days of working non-stop on it. I later learned that I didn’t get the job, but the person in charge of hiring liked many of the ideas I had in the section I put together, and we talked about fleshing out some of them into features. So although I didn’t get the job, I did get some good freelance gigs out of it.
It’s not too late—the worst thing that could happen is that you confirm that you didn’t get the job, or receive no response. Just be brief and to the point in your followup: That you applied for a position four months ago, that the last thing you did was turn in a project, and that you were just interested in knowing the status of the position.