We live in a world where everyone is busy and a single job may receive hundreds of applications. This means that a successful job search must include a healthy dose of diligence and follow up. The importance of your last impression may be just as impactful as your first. I’m consistently asked about if, when and how to follow up effectively and there are some tried and tested methods of follow up at each phase of your job search.
After an Introduction
A quality introduction to a new contact is worth its weight in gold. You want to be sure that those types of recommendations continue to come in. In order to do this, first acknowledge the introducer and remove them from the email chain. No one wants to be copied on 5 emails to plan a coffee date. Reply to the introducer directly thanking them for the introduction and informing them that you’ll reach out to the person directly. Then make a note in your calendar to circle back.
Those who make introductions once are highly likely to do it again, so after you’ve spoken with your new contact, let the introducer know how it went and how much you appreciate their time and effort. It will be another touch point where you remind the person about your search and increase the possibility of an additional introduction.
When you reach out to the person to whom you’ve been introduced, first, express your gratitude for the introduction and explain or reiterate the reason you’d like to connect. You can gauge their level of availability by offering either a short phone call, a coffee or lunch so they have options. If you receive no response, follow up one more time 7-10 days later.
After an Informational Interview
Informational interviews are incredibly effective in finding your next role. They are the first step in nurturing a relationship with someone that could be mutually beneficial. I am asked for, and give, informational interviews 1-2 times per month. During these informational interviews, I share a great deal of information and, more often than not, make an additional introduction. Almost every time, I am very impressed by the person I’ve spoken with as they are prepared, smart, dedicated professionals. Unfortunately, I almost never hear from them again. This is a missed opportunity. Someone who is willing to take time out of their schedule to chat on the phone or join you for coffee has identified themselves as someone who is willing to help. Lack of follow up may mean that you don’t receive any additional help.
The ideal follow up after an informational interview starts with a thank you note. In the thank you note acknowledge the time they’ve spent with you, highlight a particular component of the conversation that was useful and state your intent to keep in touch, with their permission. This is the absolute minimum necessary to continue the relationship.
As time progresses, consider following up in ways that do not create extra work, but provide value or increase connection. For example, if you’ve met with the person to whom your contact introduced you, follow up by sharing that you two have met and what the outcome was. If they haven’t made an introduction, you may follow up to let them know how your career or job search is progressing or share an article or story about a common interest. A quarterly email check in that does not create extra work for them will go a long way in staying top of mind so they will consider you when an opportunity arises. A typical, but less effective follow up plan is to continually ask if there is a job opening or to review your resume and determine where you’d be a good fit.
After a Job Application
A single job posting can receive hundreds of applicants and only a small portion follow up after they have applied. Once you’ve applied for a role, follow up with a kind and succinct email to the hiring manager or person who posted the job. In this case, you’ll want to send a simple email that is an abbreviated version of your cover letter. Mention that you’ve applied for the job, why you think you’d be a great fit and that you’re excited to chat soon. This will increase the chances that your resume will be viewed among the dozens of others that have been submitted.
After a Job Interview
After a job interview, a prompt and personalized approach is essential. Send a different thank you note to each person with whom you interviewed within 24 hours of your meeting. In the thank you note, you'll want to thank them for their time and acknowledge a particularly impactful piece of information they shared. This could be about a project they are working on, their perspective on your role, or their career paths, for example. Close by stating the attributes that you believe would be an asset to the team and, if you want the job, say it. You don’t want there to be any doubt that you want to bring your expertise to the team.
Prompt and appropriate follow up demonstrates gratitude and professionalism – and is quite easy to do. Consider using the tips in this article next time you are wondering how, or if, to follow up.