How To Follow Up After Sending A Job Application

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Posted by The Editors on February 23, 2012
How To Follow Up After Sending A Job Application

You’ve spent hours carefully tailoring your resume and cover letter to each position, sent out hundreds of applications, and have become yet another player in the painfully frustrating waiting game. It’s a hair-pulling, cliff-hanging experience that makes you second-guess your every move.

It also makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and shout to the high heavens, “What else can I possibly do!?”

There’s no doubt that one of the most frustrating aspects of the job search is waiting to hear back from an employer. Every career expert will tell you applying to jobs is a tough process that takes time, to which most of us reply with a sigh and secretly think, “Not me. I’ll be the exception to the rule.”

Since your main objective is scoring an interview, here are three tips to increase your chances of winning a return phone call.

1.  Be an active player.
Like my dad always yelled at my soccer games, “Don’t expect the ball to come to you. Move your feet and get it yourself!” Wise man, my dad, and he is right: You have to make your own opportunities. Before and after applying to a job, get on LinkedIn and track down people at the company. If they have a blog or a professional twitter account, get in touch with them and establish rapport. This could lead to introductions, job leads, informational interviews, or the big interview itself.

2.  Show good sportsmanship.
I know I told you to be an active player, but ramming phone calls down HR’s throat is going to get you a red card and kicked out of the candidate pool fast. Many career experts are split on the subject of the follow-up call, but if you feel it’s something you must do or else you’ll lose sleep at night, then do it—but wait at least a week after applying to the job. Call once, and when you do call, make sure to ask about your application status and the hiring timeline.

3.  Don’t get lazy.
You’re on team Y-O-U and only you can help or hurt your chances of winning. Many job candidates chose not to follow up and simply sit and wait to hear back from potential employers. This is a risky move that can give off the impression that you’re lazy and don’t want the job, when we know that’s not really the case. (Of course, this is debatable as well. Some career experts swear that any kind of follow-up isn’t necessary or even wanted due to the potential of being flooded with follow-ups all day.) If the job application explicitly says, “No phone calls or follow-ups,” then DON’T DO IT.

However, there is a middle ground that doesn’t involve looking needy and desperate and can still show employers your enthusiasm for the position.

Alison Green, of askamanager.org, suggests sending a quality follow-up email that sounds something like this: "I submitted my application for your __ position last week, and I just wanted to make sure my materials arrived. I also want to reiterate my interest in the position; I think it would be a great match, and I'd love to talk with you about the position when you're ready to schedule interviews."

BAM! Short, simple, and to the point. And for introverts, this avoids making any awkward phone calls.

The follow-up is a highly debatable job search topic. What advice have you gotten?  And if you’ve had a success story please share it. What worked for you could work for someone else too!

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