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Haven’t heard back from your hiring manager or recruiter?
Following up with them to ask about their decision is somewhat of a catch-22 situation. If a potential employer hasn’t contacted you, it’s probably because they haven’t made their decision yet.
So, pressing them for an answer they don’t have is pointless at best, and might come across as intrusive and annoying at worst.And making a good impression is especially important now that the recruitment process isn’t about your background anymore. It’s about your personality, soft skills, and the attitude you project.
The impression you make on your interviewers in your first face-to-face meeting will make or break your candidacy.
But not following up with them might be a missed opportunity.
That’s why you need to know how to follow up. Done right, follow-ups can tip the scales in your favor. Not getting things right might leave the decision makers doubting your social skills or competence.
Read on to get smart tips on following up with recruiters at each stage of the recruitment process:
After submitting your resume and application.
After your first interview.
After a longer wait.
Following up after submitting your resume
There’s no doubt that figuring out how to write a resume is a priority. The quality of your application comes down to how well it reads. Yes, perhaps we’re all relying on resumes too much but it’s too soon to ditch them in favor of a purely digital profile — even if it provides your application with much-needed oomph
So, after you send in your resume, when should you follow up? Well, if there’s a fixed timeline for the recruitment process and a deadline for when decisions should be made known, stick to it.
Following up after submitting a resume is fine if you’ve waited long enough.
If you don't hear back from the hiring manager within two weeks or more, it’s fine to get in touch.
As in all other cases, it’s best to do so by email. This will give them the freedom to respond at their convenience and let them keep a record of the correspondence.
Following up after a job interview — thank you notes
Touching base after attending an interview is arguably the most natural scenario. You’ve met the recruiter or hiring manager, talked about the company and your application. You’ve connected — even if in a formal manner. So, it makes sense to reach out.
But, follow-ups after face-to-face meetings are more like old school thank you notes. They’re an elegant reminder of your appreciation and interest. Old-fashioned to some, they’re a move you should add to your repertoire. In most cases, you can send thank you emails instead as they are viewed by most recruiters as within the bounds of good etiquette.
But won’t I come across as intrusive? Around half of the other applicants will also send thank you notes, so you don’t have to worry about seeming too pushy. It’s a nice gesture, doesn’t take too much time out of the recruiter’s schedule, and happens in a rather natural context. It’s just you and a few other potential hires — you won’t be clogging up the interviewer’s inbox. What’s more, most hiring managers and recruiters expect to receive a thank you note.
Pro Tip: The most natural course of action would be to send the thank you note a few hours after the meeting or the next day. It won’t necessarily be a mistake to do it later than that, but if you wait too long, it might seem like you’re pressuring the interviewer to hire you rather than thanking them for the chance to talk.
How to follow up after a longer wait
Recruitment processes are resource-heavy and time-consuming procedures. The whole venture can take up to a month or two on the recruiter’s side, so a week’s wait isn’t enough to warrant a follow-up.
Tip: If you don’t send your thank you note immediately after the interview, your follow-up email should be a bit more formal. Treat it as a way to remind them you’re the right person for the job.
Don’t try to self-promote too hard, but — since you’ll be providing information to help them remember who you are in the first place — why not plug a skill or accolade?
Here’s a realistic scenario for you to consider. If enough time has passed, you might have received an offer from company B in the meantime. However, you might still want to give company A another chance. That’s when it would be fine to be a bit more assertive, and follow up no matter the timeline. It’s in their best interest, isn’t it?
Start off with an email explaining your situation, and give them a call a few days later if time is of the essence.
Pro Tip: Don’t try to use made-up counter-offers as leverage. It’s like rolling dice — maybe, just maybe this will prompt them to offer you the job. However, since recruitment processes take time, you might be painting yourself into a corner. If the employer truly hasn’t made their decision, they might give you a pass and stick to alternative candidates who have consistently expressed interest in the job. Why bother with someone who has other priorities, right?
The bottom line
In the end, thank you notes are a nice gesture that shouldn’t be seen as awkward, especially if you keep it nice, short, and to the point.
If time is pressing, you might (or even should) contact your potential employer. Doing it by email would be the best first step.
Don’t start calling them up as soon as you feel anxious about the outcome.
Now, here’s a few tips for preventing any confusion later on:
1. Always ask for a timeline.
Make sure you leave the interview knowing when the employer will be letting candidates know their decision. Also, ask about who will be contacting the candidates and how they’ll get in touch — email, phone call, or letter. It’s useful to know the decision due date, as it will give you some indication of how long you should wait before following up. It might be useful to ask the interviewer for a business card. Then, you won’t have to worry if you’ve got the correct contact information once you decide to get in touch.
2. Make notes after the interview.
It might make sense to write down your impressions and the ideas you came up with, or questions you forgot to ask. Make use of these notes when composing follow-up emails. Do so sparsely, however. You don’t want to inundate the reader!
3. Handwritten thank you notes are probably not the best choice.
Although they might help you stand out, you might be standing out for all the wrong reasons. Elegant as they may be, they might seem a bit outdated or make you look like you’re trying too hard.
Don’t follow up in person, it’s just weird.
Yes, you want to seem enthusiastic about taking up work, but enthusiasm is best expressed during the interview or follow-ups via phone or email.
Bonus tip: Are phone calls fine for follow-ups?
Making phone calls should be left for situations when time is of the essence, e.g., if you got a counter offer but would like to give the first company another chance.
Let’s start with an important caveat. How often do you call people up? How do you feel when someone gives you a call rather than email you?
Obviously, email has become the go-to means of communication, and few organizations would favor receiving questions and requests via a landline over email.
Phone follow-ups only make sense in a few specific cases:
If this has been suggested in the interview (i.e., there is some time-pressing issue you need to come back to or the institution is not big on email).
If you’ve waited long enough to worry and haven’t received any feedback via email.
If you got a counter offer and need to talk this over.
Here’s what you need to remember
The recruitment process is increasingly depersonalized, so follow-ups are a great way to give your application a human touch.
Once the due date for the decision has passed, you have every right to contact your potential employer to make sure what the status is.
If the company puts your profile on file for future recruitment purposes it's more than okay to follow up at a later date.
Email is the preferred means for follow-ups.
Finally, you should never abandon your job hunt before you’ve actually landed a job, i.e., signed the contract. Things change — a stronger candidate might show up, company priorities might shift, the salary offered might differ from what was advertised. The hiring process might be simply put on hold.
Do your thing, be nice, thank people for their time, and you’ll get that job in the end.
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Natalie is a writer at Uptowork. She writes about how to create successful resumes so that you can land your dream job. When she isn't writing, she eats tacos and reads complicated novels.
You can connect with her on Twitter