Be Sure To Follow Up…Unless They Tell You Not To

Follow Up With Career Incite

One time when responding to a job ad that listed the title of whom to send the application, I indicated in my cover letter that I would follow up shortly after the application deadline. In this particular case, I was able to find out the name of the person and phoned them on the specified date. I reached them surprisingly – and not just their voicemail!

I told them my name and which job I had applied for. Then I asked where they were at in their recruitment process. I was told that the resumes had not yet been looked at. Then they asked me to hold while they searched for mine. While I was still on the phone they were glancing through my resume. Then I was asked a couple of questions and was invited for an interview. Rather than being lost in who-knows-how-big of a pile, I was suddenly expedited. All because I got over my nerves and followed-up.

Follow up and Show Your Interest

Follow up is key in any job search! Not everyone agrees with me, but if you have or can get a contact name and number, why wait for the employer to call you? While it may seem overly assertive, it shows an employer that you have a genuine interest in the job. It displays that you have some confidence and courage. A tip: do not simply ask whether or not they received your resume. First, this is this not going to make you stand out from the competition. Second, once they respond, especially if it is by voicemail or email, what will you say next?

Instead, ask when they expect to contact their shortlist or when they plan to hold interviews, or something that will let you know when to assume you were not chosen. Another tip: whatever timeline they indicate, consider it as a rough guideline because things often take longer than they planned (sometimes weeks can even turn into months).

Of course, if the posting or the career section of their website indicates “no phone calls please” then do not try to contact the employer in the initial application stage. If you have an interview however, definitely ask in the interview when they expect to contact candidates, for permission to follow up if you have not heard from them by that time, and if you can have their business card or contact information.

Sending a Thank You or Follow Up Note

Sending a quick thank you letter or email after any interview (even a phone interview) is polite, and often expected by employers. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism. It is a great way to confirm details of next steps. Perhaps you can add an important point, or ask a question that you didn’t have a chance to bring up during the conversation. In some cases, this seemingly little thing can leave a lasting impression. Or it could cost you an opportunity if not done in a timely manner (within 24 – 48 hours of the interview).

One of the luxuries I had while working with Co-op students is that there was usually an opportunity to speak directly with employers to learn about hiring trends and inquire about their expectations. On more than one occasion, an Interviewer would tell me who they had in-mind to hire but that they would not make any firm decisions until they saw who followed-up with a thank you note or email in the next couple of days.

Sending a thank you after an interview is also an excuse to provide more information. If you have ever walked away from an interview thinking “I wish I’d told them…” or “why couldn’t I think of that answer when they asked…”, adding that information in your thank you note can assit. Then you can put it out of your mind and not be stuck dwelling on that one potential misstep.

Sample Thank You Note

 “Thank you very much for your time earlier today. It was a pleasure meeting you and the information you provided has increased my interest in the job. Upon reflection, I realized what my greatest weakness is actually my tendency to be a perfectionist. With proper prioritizing, however, I can ensure that projects get the appropriate level of attention. Although I will follow up with you in two weeks, please feel free to contact me in the meantime with any other questions or to schedule a second interview. Thank you again for your time and consideration. Sincerely,…”

Organize and Follow Up

Forgetting to follow up, if you are not organized, can be so easy to do during your job search. Or it may be that you are too afraid to make calls. To help, schedule the follow-up in your calendar/planner/smartphone and ask yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” Many times, you may only get to leave a voicemail anyway or your email will go unanswered. But what if you do reach someone and the worst happens? Maybe they tell you that they already contacted everyone they plan to interview. Or perhaps they offered the job to someone else.

In this case, tell yourself that that job was not meant for you and go find a better opportunity. If you discover that they had decided to hire internally or perhaps not hire anyone at this time. Then move forward and get that job off your mind. Know that you couldn’t have done anything to influence a different outcome, and get-on with your job search.

Follow Up

But what if you go through an interview and you decide you no longer want the position? Regardless, follow up with a thank-you email. But also, let the employer know that they can remove you from consideration. Politely and briefly state the reason. Whether it was that you chose to accept another job offer, made the decision to stay in your current position, need to move to your hometown to look after an ailing parent, or came to the conclusion that you and the role were not the best fit based on what you were able to learn in the interview.

Provide Feedback

Whatever the reason is, be brief. They will look at you as a professional when you send a Thank you note. You can then also ask them to take you off the list. This will save them time and frustration. If the reason you stated for opting-out is something they can overcome, and you are their prime candidate, they may come back to you with an offer anyway. Perhaps, if your reason was a long commute or too much time travelling, they might ask if you would reconsider if they could arrange for you to telecommute. Perhaps the job you applied for was a post for part-time but they indicated in the interview that it would become full-time and you did not want to work full-time. They might be willing to consider a work-share situation or workload redistribution as the job grew.

Politely say that the role is truly not a good fit, if that it the case. Thank them again and let them know whether or not you would be open to considering other roles in the future.

Be Memorable

Taking the time to follow up and send thank you notes can make a big difference. When done well, it is a professional and courteous thing to do. It will also make you memorable because few candidates will do it. Sometimes, it may be the only difference between you and your closest competitor. If you are looking for more assistance in your job search, we are here to assist. Check out our Services Page for more information.


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