Job inquiry propriety question

Let’s say that I have applied for a job. The hiring process involves approval by a board or a council which isn’t directly involved with the agency/department I’d be working for; instead, it’s just got general budgeting and personnel yes/no authority. But it’s the one, at least nominally, making the hire. Like the way a government job might work, for instance.

If I’ve been in touch several times with the head of the actual agency itself, and that person – the one I’d be working for- keeps saying he’s just waiting on the approval by the council-entity, but has recommended me as the man for the position, and I’m getting antsy because I need to know where I’m going to be in my life in the near future, is there anything wrong with a letter or phone call to the council people directly to ask whether they’re going to make a hire for this agency, and maybe on what timetable? The fact that they aren’t my potential bosses and I’ve never been in any kind of contact with them, but they have the authority to instantly kill my chances, is kind of frightening me away from wanting to be too aggressive. Is that bad aggressive or good aggressive, do you think?

Assuming you think it’s the acceptable kind of pushiness, what do you think about an email to the head of the hiring body, at an email address from his private workplace, if I have reason to think that would be the most likely to get noticed and the “board” is kind of an ad-hoc part-time thing? Is that crossing the line? I’m generally pretty instinctively terrible at dealing with those in positions of great authority, so I’d prefer to give them wide berth, but this process is taking forever and I’m totally in the dark. If the bossperson is making empty promises I’d love to find that out as soon as possible.

Thanks for any insight.

Are there regularly scheduled meetings of this council? If not, who sets the meeting dates? Who sets the agenda? Seems to me you need to know when you’re on the agenda.

I might make a call or send an email asking about the scheduling, if I knew a little more about how the council worked - and who to send it to.
As for the second part, an email address is often supplied to aldermen and the like. But I’ve not gotten any guff for calling one at his workplace either.

Contacting the council directly would be a bit pushy in my opinion. If you need to move on with you life and make other decisions, then do so.

How long ago did your putative supervisor tell you that you’re his recommendation for the position?

An administrative employee of the council might be able to shed some light on the council’s expected timeline.

I personally would just send communication to whoever is your own point of contact, and it sounds like that’s the agency director. If you just want to know the committee’s timeline then your contact can ask them just as well as you can. In fact he can do it better, he actually works there. If this manager can’t even get back to you on their meeting schedule, then I would assume that he’s not actively trying to push this through right now. If you really need an answer then you can tell him that if they can’t make an offer by X date then you’ll have to move on. But beware he may tell you good luck and sorry it didn’t work out.

If someone from the committee has been in charge of organizing the interviews/overseeing paperwork, or has directly send you a courtesy email along the lines of “Thanks for interviewing, we look forward to reviewing your application.” then … maybe. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.


I got a job offer once that was contingent on approval of the project by the department of defense. This was supposed to only take a week or two. I kept calling my contact, who kept assuring me that approval was only a week or two away. I eventually got another job.

Years later, I used to joke that if I were to call them back now they would still tell me it was only a week or two away.

If you really want this job, it’s up to you how long you are willing to wait. Tell your potential employer that you can’t wait forever though and try to pin the down to a more specific date. Contacting the council though might come across as a bit pushy. You can probably ask them for a rough timetable without coming across as too pushy, but demanding to know when they would make a decision is way over the line IMHO. Definitely do not be aggressive. If no one can give you a date, be aware that this could take months, or may not even happen at all. Are you willing to wait 9 months for this job? If not, set a reasonable time limit and if they don’t give you an offer in time, walk away.

I have been FLOWN to other cities for jobs that never materialized. Once to Nashville, once to Columbus, OH and once to Seattle.

All three times, they liked me but the job never came about. It seems a bit pushy. When I hired people I hated pushy people. I mean if I wanted you, I would CALL you. It’s not like they are forgetting about it.

With budgets and such, it’s often preferable to combine jobs. But they will interview “just in case.”

Two weeks and change. He told them, the council, apparently, a few weeks before that. I appreciate everyone’s input thus far; it sounds like you’ve all got a pretty good handle on the dynamics here. I had (originally) really bit hard when I was first told that I was “all set” for a February hire. I reckon I should’ve known better.

To respond to some of the other comments: I do really want the job, but yeah, I can wait if I need to. It would actually be a pay cut (from ‘vanishingly small’ to ‘whoops, where’d it go?’, mind you) and that’s why I want to know when/if it’s coming; mostly I think it was stressing me out because I believed it when I heard they were ready to hire. But it sounds like I’m being silly to expect anything imminent just because the boss wants something imminent.

They do have a weekly agenda; looking at this week’s and not seeing anything that seems likely to be me prompted the thread, since that would officially foreclose a February hire.

That’s not silly at all, if the director of the agency said you were “all set” to start in February then you had every reason to believe him. If this was dependent on the committee approving a budget or whatever they he could have added a disclaimer along the lines of “I don’t want to make any promises.”/“It looks very good but we have to wait for approval”/etc.

If you haven’t been in touch with him in the last two weeks, IMHO, it would not be out of line to send an email to say you are still very interested and ask what the status is. You don’t necessarily need to know what’s going on behind the scenes (ie, what the committee is up to) but it’s entirely appropriate to ask if you should still be looking out for that offer letter.