Job Search Follow-Up Tips

You’ve found the perfect job! You submitted your resume for the position a week ago and are waiting to hear from the company. What’s the next step for ensuring you remain in the running? Following up with the hiring manager.

While some applicants worry they might appear too pushy if they contact a potential employer after sending a resume, a recent survey by our company suggests the opposite may be true: Eighty-two percent of executives polled said job seekers should contact hiring managers soon after submitting their application materials.

Employers, in fact, value the initiative and enthusiasm of those who send a thoughtful post-resume communique. And so the question is not whether to follow-up after applying for a job, but how to do it. Following are some dos and don’ts:

Don’t Wait Too Long. If you follow up about a resume you submitted two months ago, it’s unlikely the hiring manager will remember you—and even more unlikely the position will still be open. Send an e-mail or leave a phone message within two weeks of sending your resume, and you’ll have a much better chance of being asked in for an interview.

Do Communicate Via E-mail or Phone. Executives we surveyed preferred job seekers to follow up using e-mail (38 percent) or the telephone (33 percent). Just 23 percent said it’s best to send a handwritten note. Save that gesture for after you’ve gone in for an interview.

Do Keep it Brief. Whether you decide to send an e-mail or call, keep your follow-up communication succinct. In your message, identify yourself, say you’re following up on a resume you submitted and list a few reasons why you’re well-qualified for the job. This isn’t the time to ramble on about the details of your career history. Also be sure to include your phone number and thank the hiring manager for his or her time.

Don’t Be Too "Creative." As creatives, it’s tempting to call attention to your resume (and yourself) by resorting to some unusual ploy when following up with a hiring manager. Sometimes these techniques can help a candidate get his or her foot in the door, but more often they backfire. In a separate survey by our firm, executives recalled the most creative job-hunting tactics applicants have used: One candidate sent everyone in the company a personalized T-shirt, including one with her name on it. Another sent a cat-shaped dish of candy, explaining that he was the "cat’s meow."

While some hiring managers may find these stunts amusing, it’s best to stick to memorable—instead of zany—tactics. After submitting your resume, for example, you might consider sending a follow up e-mail with a link to your electronic portfolio. This easy step is direct and offers potential employers more useful information on your qualifications for the job than a T-shirt.

Don’t Be Too Pushy. There’s a clear line between demonstrating initiative and turning into what might be called a job "stalker." Leaving five messages on the hiring manager’s voice mail saying how much you’d like to come in for an interview—or sending an equal number of e-mails in one day—isn’t going to win his or her favor. Actions such as these are not only annoying, but they also make you appear desperate for the job.

Whichever method you choose to contact a prospective employer in a follow-up communication, remember to demonstrate your knowledge of the company while reinforcing your qualifications and sincere interest in the position. Taking this extra step is an excellent way to gain an advantage over less-proactive candidates.

The Creative Group
is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and Web professionals on a project basis with a variety of firms.