TAO Self-help

Title:Stop Wondering When You Should Follow Up

Author:Hannah Morgan

Date:May 2020

Source:Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Have you ever wondered when you should follow up after an interview or submitting an application?

"When should I follow up" is one of the most frequently asked questions I hear from job seekers.

I don't want you to wonder.

I want you to feel in control and so I put together some concrete guidelines to help make this a no-brainer for you and give you back some of the power and control!

Stand Out in the Right Way

Most of us want to follow the rules yet at the same time, we want to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes these seem to be contradictory concepts. Stand out and be remembered for the right things!

  • Put a System In Place
  • Be Politely and Patiently Persistent
  • Close the Loop
Put a System In Place

First things first. Now is the perfect time to put a system for tracking in place for when and who you should be following up with! It could be an Excel spreadsheet, a software program, or it might be a calendaring system (paper or electronic). That is up to you.

As you create your system, consider starting off by minimally capturing this data:

  • Name, company name, phone and email of the person to contact.
  • Name, phone and email of the person referring you.
  • How and what the referring person said about a job lead or contact they are providing.
  • "Take Action" date.
  • Action method (phone, email, other).
  • Date of last action.
Eliminate Guessing

You don't want to seem like a pest but you don't want to miss out on an opportunity either, so when do you follow-up?

The answer depends.

You can take the guesswork out of the equation by taking control. In your message or during your conversation, state when you will be following up. If the issue is urgent (such as you have an upcoming interview and you want to ask a current employee questions before the interview), let them know what your deadline is and that you will be following up within a day.

During the interview, always ask the interviewer when you should follow up. This will eliminate one of the most commonly asked questions people have — "when should I follow up after an interview?"

If you remember to ask this during the interview, you won't be wondering later.

Be Politely and Patiently Persistent

People have good intentions, however, sometimes they just don't do things with the same sense of urgency you might.

Set the expectation that you will be following up within a certain timeframe just in case they get sidetracked or perhaps even forget to do what they said they would do for you. This way, when you do try to follow up, you have their permission.

Don't give up! As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If someone has given you permission to follow up, you are within your rights to systematically and politely do so.

Understand why you aren't hearing back.

Turning Gray Into Black and White

It is difficult to give specific recommendations for follow up, but for the sake of those who want some specific guidelines, these generally work. I realize this may sound extreme to some. But it's a guideline.

Situation Method Timeframe Message/Logic
Applied for job online Phone Same day Ask what their time frame is and if they received your application/ information
Given the name of someone to call/contact Phone or email Same day Request meeting and use the name of referral source
Met with someone for informational meeting Email or US Mail Same day Thank them for their time and reference specific details from the conversation. Explain next steps you plan on taking
Job Interview Email or US Mail 24 hours Sending a thank you message will show interest and can help them remember you
Follow up after no response Phone/email alternately Weekly if no response Politely tell them you are interested and ask where they are in the process
Close The Loop

Providing thanks or following up to remind someone of their commitment is your responsibility.

When someone gives you a referral of any kind, let them know what the outcome was, or — at the very least — let them know that you've done what they've suggested.

Providing this feedback makes them feel good and makes them much more likely to help you (and others) in the future.

Here's more help on following up

Hannah Morgan is one of this year's LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and a nationally recognized author and speaker on job search strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to combine her career expertise with her love of writing, speaking and social media. Her mission is to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today's job search process. Hannah is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, Aol Jobs, LifeHacker, The Muse, Business Insider, SmartBrief, Payscale as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.

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