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 Effective Follow-Up

By Joe Stein

Unless you are a passive Job Seeker being aggressively pursued by your prospective employer, effective follow-up will be an important part of your search.  For most open positions, there will be a number of candidates who are qualified for the job.  Often, the person selected is the one who displayed the most interest in the position and stayed connected with the Hiring Manager.  Don’t forget that old saying…”out of sight is out of mind”.  Strong follow-up can also be a sign of attention to detail and dedication to the task at hand.

The following is an outline of the steps you should consider taking in order to successfully follow-up:

 -  Resume Submission – Unless, via your networking, you have a person on the inside touting your candidacy, your initial application is either on a paper pile or an electronic inbox with all the others.  You can help your chances of being reviewed, by giving a call to the contact on record, to remind them that you sent your Resume or submitted your application.  Provide the date of submission, your name, and (if by e-mail) what was the header of your document.  You will want to take a gentle reminder type of approach in this situation, since Recruiters can be very busy and overworked individuals. 

 -  Thank You Notes – Once you have reached and completed your interview(s), then it is time to send the Thank You Notes.  Timing of the process will determine your method.  If you have the time, physical handwritten notes can be very effective.  If you know the hiring decision will be made quickly, then an e-mail will need to be the method.  Be sure to send each Interviewer a separate Thank You message.  Try to incorporate something from the interview that was a key point or discussion topic.  This will make it easier for the Interviewer to connect the note with you, and also serve as an important reminder regarding some area of your candidacy.  Trying to be this specific in your messages will require you to do a review of each conversation immediately after you are done that day.  This will ensure that the information is fresh in your mind.  You should strive to send out all Thank You Notes within 24 hours of the meeting.

 -  Post-Interview Phone Call - There are times when the job search occurs over an extended time period.  One of the biggest stress points for Job Seekers is determining when to call a Recruiter if they have not heard yet about a decision.  Generally, after one week it is considered appropriate to reach out by telephone or e-mail seeking an update.  Use this occasion to remind the person regarding how you match up against the requirements and stress your interest in the position. 
 -  Social Media – This is a relatively new trend in follow-up and admittedly one area I am still not entirely comfortable with yet.  In this example, the candidate reaches out via a social media website (most likely Linked In) and attempts to connect with the Recruiter or Hiring Manager.  My suggestion would be that you do not take this approach unless you ask first if it would be OK, and really gauge the body language of the person if it would be appropriate.  Personally, I do not connect with external candidates that are pursuing positions that I am part of the hiring process.  It just does not seem right to me from a conflict of interest perspective and causes me to feel that the candidate is a bit too forward.

 -  Additional Follow-Up - If a decision was not made after your follow-up call, then typically an every-other-week timing of reaching out is considered OK.  This will still allow you to not come across as desperate or pushy.  You should consider varying the method (phone call alternating with e-mail), and also adjust the message so that it does not seem repetitive.

 -  Closure – If you have done one or all of the above items and you still have not heard of a decision, then you have to make a decision regarding moving forward.  If you are unemployed, then you may follow this pattern of follow-up until you find another job, since finding new work is your focus.  If you are currently employed, you may want to make a decision regarding whether to remove yourself from consideration in order to better focus on other leads with a higher probability of success.  If you do decide to pull out of the running, then reach out to the Recruiter as a courtesy.  In those rare occasions, you may even find that this development causes them to rekindle their interest.

The art of follow-up is one of those areas requiring finesse by the Job Seeker.  You will want to strike the right balance between appearing passionate and interested in the position, without coming across as too aggressive.

As always, best of luck in your job search!