Maybe it’s been three days since your second interview for your dream job, or maybe you sent in your r‚sum‚ a week ago. In both cases, you may feel tempted to check in with the human resources representative to let her know you’re still out there and interested in this position. But should you do it? The answer is a simple one: yes.
Sometimes shy or hesitant job seekers can find following up to be scary or awkward – applicants may be worried about seeming too pushy or desperate, said career expert Deborah Bailey. “Additionally, they may feel they have no power over the situation after the interview is over. So they sit and wait to be contacted,” she added. “Another reason for not following up could be the person has had negative experiences with interviews in the past and lacks confidence.”
Following up is a relatively new process; it wasn’t necessary in a job market where there weren’t as many applicants as there are today, explained Megan Pittsley, director of career services at TechSkills in San Jose, CA.
For those worried about looking too pesky, take comfort in knowing hiring managers routinely state they don’t mind follow-up by job seekers, as long as it’s done quickly and professionally, noted Teena Rose, career strategist at ResumetoReferral.com. “There have been cases, in fact, where job candidates have scored unexpected interviews based on the quality and quickness of the follow-up,” she said.
When to Follow Up
If you’ve just sent in your r‚sum‚, opinions vary when it comes to following up. If you’ve sent your r‚sum‚ to a specific person, wait a week before contacting them, Bailey suggested. “You can either call or send an e-mail to introduce yourself and mention you sent your r‚sum‚,” she noted. If you didn’t send your r‚sum‚ to a specific person, see if you can find the name of the HR manager, Bailey advised.
“Unfortunately, if you submit a r‚sum‚ online, it can be difficult to identify who you should contact,” she added.
Pittsley suggested you make a brief phone call, saying you didn’t receive verification that your r‚sum‚ was received and you just wanted to make sure the HR department got it. “Some of my clients have found their r‚sum‚s didn’t go through for some reason, so it helps to make sure your r‚sum‚ gets through the right channels,” Pittsley told ADVANCE.
Most career experts would agree following up after an actual job interview is imperative. Follow up by e-mail or a card 1-2 days after your interviews, Bailey noted. “Let them know you enjoyed meeting them,” she said. “You can also use the opportunity to share that you’re looking forward to either hearing from them or meeting them again.” This is a good time to reiterate your interest in the job, too.
If you’ve made it to the second interview, remember to ask what the next step will be and when you can expect to hear from someone, Pittsley said. “Ask their permission to follow up if you do not hear from them within that time frame,” she added. “When you call, make sure you remind them they gave you permission to check in. I’ve had candidates say they were going to call and [then] not call – and they lost the job because of that fact alone.”
When exiting an interview, it’s also important to ask not only when but how you should follow up. “Anytime a job candidate deals with an interviewer, the candidate should cater to the interviewer’s preferences as much as possible,” Rose stressed.
Just don’t wait any longer than a week to follow up. “If you wait too long, it may be too late because decisions may have already been made,” Bailey mentioned.
How to Follow Up
Your method of following up may depend on the environment of the organization. If it’s a busy facility, an e-mail may be the best option, Bailey said. “Or if it’s a more personal type of environment where relationship building is highly thought of, a call will work better,” she continued. “There isn’t just one way to communicate with people, so you should use your best judgment.”
Phone calls can be great for quick check-ins, but e-mails allow you to go into more detail, Pittsley added. However, keep in mind e-mails can be unreliable at times, Rose noted.
Some may believe in our fast-paced world that the handwritten thank-you note has been replaced by e-mail. However, some career experts say a note or card is still acceptable and a nice touch. Just make sure your handwriting is legible, Bailey said; bad handwriting could work against you.
“I think a note will stand out because it is not the norm,” she continued. “It shows you took the time to get a card and personally communicate with the interviewer.”
Pittsley is a big proponent of the thank-you card and agrees with Bailey that it could give you a major boost in the interview process. “This shows you have good manners, appreciate their time and find the job opportunity well worth a little extra effort on your part,” she stressed. “It’s professionalism and sincere interest at it’s best. I’ve known candidates who were neck and neck, and the one who sent a thank-you card got chosen.” However, make sure you e-mail them as well to show you are technologically capable, she said.
Even if you don’t end up getting the job, you should continue to follow up with the facility by adding interviewers to your LinkedIn account or asking them if you can stay in touch. “If you made a favorable impression with them but aren’t the best fit for their current role, there could be others down the line,” Pittsley noted.
What Not to Do
While there are those who may be worried that following up can be too aggressive, there are other job seekers who just don’t know when to put down the phone or stop typing that e-mail. Repetitive calls or messages to the HR professional will definitely get you on their “pest” list, especially because the job interview process can oftentimes take a while.
“Recruiters and HR managers are people with busy schedules, too,” Rose said. “Although job seekers would love the hiring process to move much faster, the truth is there needs to be an adequate amount of time allocated to sourcing and prescreening r‚sum‚s before calling individuals in for interviews.”
Make That Call
Using your best judgment when it comes to following up is key – just remember to do it in some shape or form, and in a professional and sincere way. “Often interviewers are speaking with multiple candidates for a position. By following up, you stand out from the crowd and let the interviewer know you have a strong interest in the job,” Bailey stressed. “Most people probably won’t follow up and will simply wait to be contacted. The person who follows up shows they can be proactive, which is certainly a positive trait.”
Always keep in mind the way you are presenting yourself to interviewers. Remember to “sell” yourself without appearing insincere or desperate, Bailey noted. “If you are confident and upbeat, you’ll make a strong impression by just being yourself.”
Amanda Koehler is on staff at ADVANCE.