Thank You Etiquette

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You’ve sent in your resume. You already know that a follow-up message is a critical step in your job search. What is the appropriate amount of time to wait to follow up on a job application? What type of follow up is preferred? How often? Email or snail?

You want to get your name across to the decision maker again, so they’ll be looking specifically at, or for, your resume/application

You want gather information for yourself about the status of your application.

Phone Follow up – Top choice for follow-up is a phone call placed two to three days after the employer is likely to have received your application materials. Call early in the morning, before 8:30 a.m. You will stand a better chance of getting attention before the meat of the day begins. Prepare for the call so that you have two or three “meaty” questions,- questions that someone in HR won’t be able to answer but that a decision maker can. To open the call, use a friendly, casual tone. Here’s an example:

“Hi, Mark, my name is Val Matta, and I recently submitted my resume for your xyz opening. I’m calling to make sure you received this, and if you’ve got just a minute or two I had a couple of questions for you …”

Question Suggestions: 

  • “Can you tell me about what outcomes you most want to see before the end of the year…?”
  • “What are your top priorities or goals?”
  • “What kind of experiences would your ideal candidate have?”
  • “What would be the biggest challenges I would face in this position?” (framed as if you’re already in the position and can thus help the decision maker visualize you in that position.)

Email Follow up

Email works as well, but make sure your subject line is specific enough to get attention. Use the same tone in an e-mail as they would in a phone call. Keep the e-mail brief and friendly, and include your questions (three, tops). You could even send them a link to (examples of your work available online) or to your Web site, if you have one. Or even send them a link to an article you think they might be interested in (e.g., something about their industry, or relevant to the position, or relevant to a particular goal or challenge they’re facing, or a similar interest you discovered in an initial phone interview).

Whether you follow up via e-mail or phone call, always ask ‘When would be a good time for us to meet to talk further?’ In other words, invite yourself for the next step.

Snail Mail

Many HR professionals have a positive view of receiving a nice, handwritten card. It certainly makes a job candidate stand out. However, there are the many hiring managers who do not agree. The primary problem noted is that they can’t be forwarded or easily converted to the electronic record, making it hard to track your correspondence with the company, creating the difficulty of passing your correspondence on if a hiring manager thinks you might be a good fit for another position. Make sure you add this communication on top of your other choices, not instead.

Have a Follow-Up Strategy using CareerShift

Use your CareerShift MY CAMPAIGNS and MY CALENDAR to track and set reminders for your follow-up strategy. Having a schedule helps to alleviate the worry over each application and every non-reply and allows you to focus on what you can control: Remaining a your pro-active job searcher that is always moving in the right direction. Stay up to date on your target company needs, using MY JOBS saved job searches. Then reach out to those company contacts in MY CONTACTS, to network your way to the hidden job market. Consistently make contact to always have informational interviews on your schedule.

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.