Following Up after an Informational Interview

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Posted by The Editors on June 16, 2011
Following Up after an Informational Interview

Write the Letter
You've just returned from a wonderful meeting with Frank Carlson. You achieved everything you hoped you would, and then some.

Your two-minute presentation was received enthusiastically. You asked thought-provoking questions, and Frank gave a ton of useful answers, ideas, and recommendations. He also provided referrals to people he'll introduce you to, or you will arrange to see with his blessing.

You took careful notes during and after the meeting, so you remember the details of what Frank said about the people he's referring you to, as well as the main points of your conversation.

The meeting lasted an hour and ten minutes, and you're welcome to let him know how things are going. Now it's time to recognize Frank's generosity with a gracious, sincere thank-you note-not a quickie of the "Dear Grandma, Thank you for the hankie. Love, Jim" variety. Follow the grabber-definer-convincer-concluder model to structure a good response to Frank:

Grabber

This consists of your appreciation for Frank's time, sage advice, and excellent referrals. You may want to say that your meeting confirmed the glowing recommendation Gail provided when referring you to him. Of course Frank will keep reading to see what else you have to say!

Definer

This is where you paraphrase, comment on, or further develop one or two ideas that were central to your conversation with Frank. You may want to provide further support for an idea, correct a misimpression, or otherwise show that you were paying close attention and appreciate Frank's input (even if you don't necessarily agree with the point he was making).

Convincer

Here, you describe what you have already done or plan to do to arrange meetings with the people Frank referred you to or to follow up on ideas discussed in your meeting with Frank.

Concluder

Close by restating your appreciation (in different words) and your intention to keep him posted.

You can use this simple model as the basis for almost any thank-you note. Later-in three weeks or so-you might send a second note.

The Advantages of Network Follow Up

Why take the trouble to follow up? It will help your job search, that's why.

As an example, let's say you go for an interview with a man named Frank. The day Frank meets you, and perhaps the day afterward, he's truly impressed with you.

But he's a busy man, conducting or taking part in at least three or four meetings a day, along with working in a trip or two each week-not to mention holding one-on-one discussions with several of his staff members each day, and handling a personal issue that's taking more time than he'd like. What does he remember about you a week later? Nothing.

But you, clever person that you are, have sent a thank-you note that was appreciative, sincere, and full of reminders of what you and Frank discussed during your meeting. Why, you've even followed up on some of Frank's suggestions-you contacted one of his contacts for an interview; you revised your resume according to a comment he made; he thought you might learn from! Now he remembers you and thinks of you as very capable and charming.

Three weeks later he learns from you that you've been to see a couple of his referrals, who-you tell him-regard him as something of a hero. One of them may already have told Frank that he was very impressed with you. Now, do you think Frank might remember you when he hears of an appealing position that could be a great fit for you?

You bet he does. And you're the one he's going to recommend-because of the people he met with, you're the only one that followed up.

After Landing Your Job, Thank Those That Helped

Once you've landed a job, thank the people who helped you. That's your network-and it's every bit as important as your job. The people who spent time and wisdom advising you are people you may need to turn to again one day; they're the web that made your job possible.

In other words, don't let your job search end once you've accepted an offer. You may have inked a deal, but you should take some time to write letters and make a round of phone calls to thank those who have played a role in helping you get the job you got.

Once you take a job, you should immediately let any employers who have made offers or are actively considering your candidacy know that you have decided to accept another position. If they invest additional time or money in your candidacy, only to find out that you began working elsewhere two weeks ago, your thoughtlessness will definitely cool any future relationships with those companies.

When informing employers of your decision, tell them that it was difficult because their group is excellent in so many ways, but you needed to choose the best overall fit (or future prospects) for you. A voice-mail message will suffice if the key person can't be easily reached. Timeliness is the priority once you've made a firm commitment.

After you've let other potential employers know about your plans, you need to thank your references-you'll probably need them again some day. Tell them how happy you are to advise them of your new position, and describe what you will be doing. Thank them for their part in making it possible. A written note would be nice, but at least a phone conversation (not just a voice-mail message) is due.

Finally, you need to phone or write, as appropriate, every person who was kind enough to provide time, advice, and referrals during the course of your campaign. They're now part of your network, and you are part of theirs-keep it alive.

Best wishes to you in your new job!

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