The Forgotten Art of the Follow-up
The internet has fundamentally changed the world of job hunting. It’s never been easier to apply for jobs all over the world, at the click of a button. The result is hiring managers get their inboxes flooded with applications from unqualified candidates, and even good candidates can be lost in the shuffle.
Unfortunately, even if you create a well-crafted resume, getting it in front of the right eyes can be a challenge, and won’t always happen on the first go.
But fortune favors the persistent – with so many possible reasons why you didn’t hear back after your application or interview, the resilient job seeker takes action.
1. Follow-up after submitting your resume
The act of following up after submitting your application communicates a couple of key messages to hiring managers or employers:
- It brings you to the forefront of their minds
- It indicates you are interested in the position
- It communicates you are persistent in achieving your goals
Remember that for a potential employer, the whole hiring process is about getting the maximum amount of information about each candidate in a fixed period, for an important decision that will impact their business. The follow-up immediately separates you from those who didn’t follow up, and even if you weren’t picked for an interview right away, you may get the opportunity to talk your way into one.
As for timing, it’s harder to gauge this one than after an interview, as the hiring and interview timeline can vary dramatically from one company to another. You want to give hiring managers enough time after submitting your application to consider your candidacy for an interview, but not wait so long that you get discouraged.
If a general rule applies, you might say 5-7 days after you submit your application, aiming for the beginning of the week. If you decide to send the second follow-up (well done, persistent one,) another 3-5 days after the first follow-up is appropriate.
Job seekers are often worried about coming across as impatient or pushy, but the truth is hiring managers generally don’t give most people much attention if they aren’t already planning to interview them. Getting a rejection response is better than hearing nothing at all, so stop worrying about how you might come across and commit to following up on every application you send in.
With that said, here are three stages in the job hunt where you have opportunity to follow up, with tips on how to be successful.
2. Follow-up after an interview
This is one of the most important follow-ups you can do, and yet is surprisingly neglected by many job seekers.
In a nutshell, you should always thank someone for their time, particularly when you want them to hire you. Even if you think the interview went badly, send a thank-you. Make it a part of your job hunt that you never fail to remember – the integrity will serve you well.
At the end of an interview you do, always push for clarity on the next steps of their process. Get them to tell you what happens next and on what timeline. This will inform you on how to proceed with your follow-up.
Then, as soon as possible after the interview (and within 24 hours), send an email thanking your interviewer for their time, and reiterating any key information about the next steps. You might also add a personal touch by referencing something you discussed during the interview, such as a joke or specific conversation topic. The whole follow-up helps you build a connection, shows you were paying attention and gives you the chance to put your intent to continue the process in writing.
3. Follow-up after a rejection
If you get rejected for a job, your odds of getting a response to any follow-up are low – they’re now focusing on the people still in the pipeline. But, in the words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”, and you’ve got nothing to lose from sending off one more push.
If you get an email or a phone call informing you that you didn’t get the position, zip off one last message with the following:
- Thank them again for their time and for letting you know
- Indicate your continued interest in working for them in the future
- Ask them for 1 actionable step you could do to be a more attractive candidate for them in the future
The worst-case scenario is you won’t receive any response. But you might get an idea of how you could improve your candidacy, or even end up on a call-back list if things change. Consider it part of your new commitment to persistence in the job hunt, and see what happens.
Pro tip: Pick up the phone
In the age of apps and texting, picking up the phone to actually call someone has become an act of personal kindness and human connection. In the job search world, it’s become a pro tip.
Emails get lost very quickly in the daily flood, and hiring managers in particular get a lot of them. Try reaching out via the telephone and actually speaking to another human being, and see what your response rate is versus email.
That said, many people don’t like taking phone calls because they are time and attention consuming, and the more proactive of those people have purposefully made it tough to reach them by phone.
If you decide to call the hiring manager as a follow-up to an application, be prepared so you don’t waste anyone’s time. There are several ways the conversation can go:
- The hiring manager has not seen your resume and has no idea who you are
- The hiring manager has seen your resume, and has decided not to bring you in for an interview
- The hiring manager has seen your resume, and you are on the shortlist for an interview but haven’t been contacted yet
If you do get through, remember the rules of attempting the phone call: keep the small talk to a minimum, thank them for their time, and get the information you came for.
Conclusion: Become A Practitioner of the Art
If you’re serious about landing the job you’re applying for, start thinking about your follow-up strategy before you apply. Your follow-up is most likely to be successful if you have written a targeted resume and cover letter addressed to the correct person.
Each follow up attempt you put out there is one more possible conversation started, and you’ve got to initiate more conversations if you’re going to land that next job you want. And when you get complimented on your persistence in your next interview, come back and leave a comment on this post!
This post was written by Lauren McAdams. Lauren is a hiring manager, career consultant, and lead writer at ResumeCompanion.com, home of the internet’s most professional resume templates. She’s been quoted by sites like Forbes, TechRepublic, and Careerbuilder.com, and her resume templates and career advice on Resume Companion have helped hundreds of applicants find their dream jobs. When she’s not busy enriching the lives of job seekers, she’s either sipping on coffee or a glass of wine – depending on the time of day of course.
Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons above.
Do You Need Help With ...