Have you ever asked anyone for their opinion about when or how to best follow up during job search – such as after sending a job application or an interview? What I bet you’ve found is that you get lots of different advice on when and how to follow up.
And you know what- all of the advice you get is right but it’s all wrong too!
Here is some advice on how to follow up during job search you should consider.
Mixed Messages and Double Talk
Some coaches suggest you wait a couple of days after you submit your application to follow up and some HR professionals may suggest you wait even longer.
Then there’s that long period after the job interview where you’re in limbo. Can you- should you- follow up if you haven’t heard anything from the employer?
Or have you ever tried reaching out to a friend inside a company to ask for their help with a job you have applied to and gotten nothing, nada, zip?
There Are No Concrete Answers
Personal preference and bias get in the way when people provide advice on follow-up (or anything for that matter.) Once you’ve heard both sides, do what is best for YOU!
You’ve been told not to be pushy, aggressive or a stalker when following up with an employer after submitting an application or going on an interview. What exactly does this look like?
The reality is, what one person may consider pushy, another person may consider demonstrating your interest. Your message is interpreted by the receiver, and each receiver has personal preferences.
Your goal is to try to meet the unique preferences and needs of the person who will be listening to your voicemail or receiving your email. This means, your follow up should take into consideration the person you are following up with. Focus your message on what’s going on with them and their process, not your need for an answer.
One of the worse mistakes any job seeker could make is not following up at all after submitting an application. How do you know your application was received?
If you’re lucky, the company has an automated system to notify you, otherwise, you’re left to wonder. Finding out if your application was received may be as simple as contacting the human resources department; however, HR is flooded with these inquiries.
Yes, it is HR’s responsibility to respond to applicants’ inquiries, but that can become a full-time job. So what you’ll find is that most of the time, you won’t receive any response.
Many HR professionals suggest not bothering them to find out if your application made it into their system. They contend that constant emails and voicemail messages are not the way to get a response or gain the right type of attention.
However, you may have heard stories about applicants who were granted interviews because they persistently followed up. Which advice do you follow?
Here’s another option. Try taking an alternate route by connecting with employees inside the company to see if they might help, either by forwarding your resume to the right hiring manager or by getting you an update on where the company is in the hiring process.
How Long Should You Wait?
Many career professionals would say that you should follow up shortly after you apply. But what does that mean? How many hours, days or weeks do they mean by shortly?
If you applied online and didn’t receive any type of response that your application was received, an immediate or same-day call or email to the HR department isn’t totally out of line. Technology can fail.
Your priority is to ensure your materials were received, meanwhile, HR’s priority is to screen the applications, not troubleshoot why yours wasn’t received.
When contacting HR, be polite and show empathy for their busy workload. If you do not get a response to your message, following up one week later for an update on the status of their screening process is also not out of line, as long as your wording is courteous.
Giving up is a choice you may be faced with. However, if it is a job you are very interested in, don’t throw in the towel. Ask connections inside the company for information about what is going on in the company and with the screening process.
If you are looking for more concrete timelines, you can read Stop Wondering When You Should Follow Up.
You Are Not Stalking
Stalking can be defined as unwanted or obsessive attention. When or if you get a “no thank you” or “don’t call us, we’ll call you” response, you need to stop following up.
But if you’re still awaiting a response, don’t cross the stalking line; instead, find alternative ways to show your interest. For instance, following the company on social networks isn’t stalking, but sending regular messages to its inbox might be. Sharing some of its updates probably isn’t going to mark you as a stalker, and the social media managers may even appreciate your promotional assistance if it’s done in moderation. Think outside the box and find alternative ways to gently remind the hiring manager that you’re qualified and interested.
No Two Companies Are The Same
Every job and every industry is slightly different.
What might work for you in one field may not work for someone else in another industry.
A sales professional might be expected to be pleasantly persistent in his or her follow-up after an interview because it shows how he or she might follow-through after a sales call.
There is also some degree of trial and error.
Don’t be afraid to take a calculated risk when you follow up during job search.
Check out these articles:
Interview Follow-Up: Do it better
Follow Up On Leads
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.