by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re in the market for a new job, and after conducting all your research, you send out 20 cover letters and resumes to potential hiring managers. Weeks go by and you wonder why not even one of those hiring managers has called you for an interview. Is the problem too obvious? It must not be for situations like this one are the most common we hear about when job-seekers ask our advice about their situation.
If you remember nothing else from this article, please remember these words if you want to succeed in finding a new job: follow up, follow up, follow up.
Following up job leads shows prospective employers your interest in the company and position — and gives you another chance to sell your qualifications. Some job-seekers fear sounding desperate or annoying when making follow-up inquiries, but as long as you do it right, you will come across as interested, not desperate.
Determining Best Method of Follow-Up
How you follow-up your job leads depends partly on how you initially contacted the employer, as well as your own personal preferences. For job-seekers who simply hate talking on the phone, e-mail may be the best (or at least initial) method of follow-up, but for people who are natural extroverts, the phone may be the best way to showcase your personality.
But, don’t waste time debating the method you choose. The important lesson here is that job-seekers need to be aggressive in following up all job leads because employers are not going to call you when hundreds and thousands of other job-seekers are applying for the same position. Choose a follow-up method, review the follow-up tips listed below, and get moving toward a more successful job-search!
Tips for Following-Up
Here are some useful guidelines to consider before you follow-up with prospective employers.
- Always make time to follow-up all job leads, no matter how busy you are.
- Follow-up in a timely fashion — usually a week to 10 days for conventional job-searching, sooner for online applications.
- Create a job leads log, such as the one shown here, so you have a record of your job-search and follow-up.
- If you apply online for a position, consider following-up the online application with a cover letter and resume sent to the hiring manager via postal mail. You will stand out over the other online applicants because few will also send a hard copy.
- Keep your follow-up brief, to the point, and professional.
- Focus your follow-up around your fit with the position and organization and your USP. You might also ask the hiring manager if he/she needs any further information not included in your original application.
- If you recently completed training, received an award, or earned some other recognition that would make you an even better candidate for the position, be sure to mention it in your follow-up.
- Continue following-up regularly, but don’t overdo it.
- If you are nervous, consider developing a short script about what you want to say (such as your fit with the job, knowledge of the company, USP).
- No matter what, you should at least make an outline or some notes of the key points you want to make.
- Keep a copy of your resume nearby in case you need to refer to something on it.
- Make the phone call from a place where you can talk calmly and not have distractions — and avoid following up from your current place of employment.
- Be prepared for a short screening phone interview by practicing answers to common interview questions.
- End the conversation thanking the hiring manager for his/her time and asking about the hiring timetable/next steps. If you are extremely confident, you could ask when you might expect an interview.
- Always address your email to the hiring manager. If you are having difficulty finding hiring managers, read this article: Sleuthing Out Hiring Managers Is Key to Job-Search Follow-up.
- Keep your email short and to the point. Simply again state your interest in the job and your key qualifications for it.
- Be sure to spell-check and proofread your e-mail before sending it.
- Remember to check your email regularly.
- Because e-mail is such a one-way communication, and you don’t really know if your e-mail is even being read, consider asking for a phone number so you can then follow-up by phone. (And if you get no response, do your research and uncover the phone number yourself.)
Final Thoughts on the Importance of Following-Up
You may get discouraged if you discover through following up that you are not a final candidate for a position, but isn’t knowing that information sooner rather than later better in terms of moving forward with your job-search? And don’t let a rejection stop you; in fact, if you are told you will not be one of the job-seekers interviewed, consider asking why so that you can improve your chances for other job openings. And if you have a good rapport with the hiring manager, you could also ask about the possibility of an informational interview, possibly turning that person into a valuable networking contact and source of future job leads. You could also say that you would like to be considered for future openings.
Finally, please keep repeating these words at your mantra: follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. It truly is one of the keys to job-search success.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.