As job markets become more competitive, job seekers are looking for novel methods of standing out in the crowd. One way is to follow up at every stage of the job hunt. From your application to post-interview to after you’ve been hired, following up can help ensure you get the job you deserve.
Table of contents:
- Haven’t heard back on your application
- Thank you letter after an interview
- Declining a job offer (and starting over if necessary)
1. The 3 kinds of follow ups
There are three possible scenarios for following up – click on the documents above to learn more.
If it has been a week since you sent an application and you’ve yet to hear back, consider getting in touch. A friendly reminder can’t hurt, and a little assertiveness is never a bad thing. You obviously want to avoid pestering, but reaching out to ask for a response might help get you on a hiring manager’s priority list.
This is becoming standard practice for job seekers. Ensure that you thank the employer for an interview within 24 hours, as waiting any later than this makes your “thank you” ring hollow. In addition, employers may be looking to make a fast decision, so you need to keep your name on their radar.
Some lucky job-seekers do so well they find themselves in the envious position of receiving multiple job offers. Of course pick the best option for you, but be smart and don’t burn your bridges with the company you won’t be joining. Instead, make an effort to show your gratitude and grace to maintain a good relationship with that company and the hiring manager, should your paths ever cross again.
Furthermore, if things don’t work out at the new company for whatever reason, your good relationship with the declined company may prove beneficial. You could even check in with them again and see if the position has been filled, or ask if anything else is available. Hopefully you don’t find yourself in this situation, but if you do, you’ll be happy you maintained that relationship.
2. What exactly does following up mean?
A follow up is a reminder, a thank you, and a final summary of why you’re the right fit for the position.
Think of it like this – a hiring manager gets hundreds of resumes, all of which are trying their hardest to “stand out”. Even if you’ve followed our advice for writing a resume, you might be competing with someone else who has as well. So how do you get a potential employer to take a look at your application? Keep in touch.
“Okay,” you say, “they looked and now they called me in for an interview. It went well.” And that’s great, but you still aren’t done yet.
Again, even if you gave a great interview, maybe it wasn’t perfect. Maybe you gave too short an answer during the interview and after realizing you could have said more.
More than that though – remember that a hiring manager conducts at least a handful of interviews, and there is a good chance that other applicants had strong interviews also. Your email or letter is the final chance you have to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
3. Why you should
So, why should you stay in touch with a hiring manager, both with a resume application and after an interview?
They like it
Evidence suggests that 75% of hiring managers genuinely appreciate it. In their eyes, it shows you respect their time and effort, and who doesn’t like that?
The extra mile
Following up also shows you go the extra mile. It’s the last step, and some people consider it to not even be totally necessary. If you stay in touch , it shows that little extra bit of effort on your part, and there’s a huge difference between 99 percent and 100.
People need reminders
As a hiring manager, sometimes I see a resume that looks fine, but I may forget about it as new applications come rolling in. But I am much more likely to check a resume, and even remember it, if I receive a follow up email.
Leaves a distinguishing impression
Again, remember that an employer might get hundreds of resumes and conduct a dozen or more interviews. An email, letter, or card gives one more point of contact to help you stand out in their minds.
4. Five Useful Tips
Finally, follow these general tips to make your final pitch a quality one.
Rule 1: Stand out, but don’t be desperate
The goal is to stand out – not be a desperate shot in the dark hoping a hiring manager takes mercy on you. You’re better than that. Remember to be grateful and express interest again in the position, but avoid coming across as sycophantic.
If you are contacting the hiring manager after an interview, you should reiterate your gratitude for the their time, but also use this as an opportunity to remind them of how great of a fit you’d be for the job. Furthermore, if you need to expand on something, add information, or correct something you said, now is the time to do so. Address those parts of the interview where you feel you could have responded more competently.
If you need to expand on something, add information, or correct something you said, now is the time to do so.
Rule 2: Be specific
Remember, specificity is important – don’t just act like you’re saying hi, tell them why you’re getting in touch. Be confident. “Just checking in” sounds like you’re waffling, and it’s cliche corporate-speak. You aren’t “just checking in,” you’re reminding them why they need you. Be sure to thank everyone who interviewed you also, not just the hiring manager.
Also, make sure you have tailored your message to the interviewer. Using a template is fine, but you need to ensure that you’ve taken the time to personalize the message and made it relevant to the specific hiring managers you’ve spoken to.
Another important aspect of specificity is making a personal connection. For example, mention an accomplishment of the company you enjoyed hearing about, whether in the news, through word of mouth, or at an interview.
Rule 3: Follow up aggressively
Be aggressive. Don’t wait three months if you get no response. Don’t act like you’re bothering them. Pestering a potential interviewer isn’t a good idea, but calling or sending an email a week or a few days after you send an application isn’t pestering, it’s being professionally assertive.
Furthermore, being timely is critical. If you are thanking an interviewer more than a few days after the interview, it will seem like your response is late. Get your email or note to your interviewer fast.
Calling a week or a few days after you send an application isn’t pestering, it’s being professionally assertive.
Rule 4: Add value to your response
Add value to the response as well. Did you discuss industry information? Send an article link. Do you have some advice about something? Include it in your follow up email or letter (be careful not to overstep your bounds or sound self-aggrandizing, however). Did you discuss industry information? Send an article link. By making your follow up more than just a “thank you” you are showing that you’re more than just nice – you’re useful.
Rule 5: Don’t be careless
Finally, don’t write a follow up email on your phone. You’re more prone to make and miss mistakes. Sit down at a computer and give it your full attention.
Also, keep your email or letter professional in tone, even if you are trying to show individual personality. No emojis in an email, no inappropriate jokes, and other things of that sort. Even if it’s cleverly done or humorous, it also looks tacky.
Finally, and this should be obvious, pay attention to word choice. Avoid canned and cliche phrases or patronizing insider lingo.