As a recruiter, one of the most frustrating aspects of my job is dealing with slow response time from hiring managers and HR departments. This is definitely not a new issue but has become more challenging in the last year or two. Candidates often get annoyed with me when I tell them I have not received feedback regarding their resumes. Even worse is when I actually send someone for an interview then do not get the results for several days or weeks.
To job seekers, my advice is to consider yourself an active candidate until you actually hear otherwise. I have seen companies respond in a positive fashion as much as six months after the submittal date. Sometimes, there is an internal delay caused by temporary hiring freezes, a hiring manager who suddenly was sent to deal with an emergency at another site, a change in projects plans, etc. The hard part is nobody usually tells the agency recruiter or candidate what is going on.
To hiring managers, my suggestion is that if you see a candidate you really like, do not delay as the best people are still getting jobs in a timely fashion. Living by the current opinion that their are tons of unemployed people out there will quite likely keep you from hiring the top prospects for your job. If you are having internal delays beyond your control, simply contact the candidates and make them aware of the situation.
While all of this might seem to be a byproduct of the economy, I have experienced sluggish responses from employers throughout the past 25-plus years in the staffing industry. The most extreme case was when someone called me about 18 years ago from a very large telecommunications company. He wanted to set up an immediate interview with an engineer whose resume he had just received. I did not know the name so searched through the files and discovered this candidate had been submitted by a former member of our firm almost two years ago! Of course, the candidate was now gainfully employed and had no interest in the job. Upon calling the client back, I learned his HR department had just sent him the resume that week and indicated it has recently arrived at their office! Some things will never change. Hang in there!