Sep 27, 2013, 11:12am EDT Updated: Sep 28, 2013, 6:01am EDT
- Dana Manciagli
- Contributing Writer
In my experience, job-search follow-up is deplorable! It’s the weakest part of the job-search process. Follow-up at the minimum means sending thank you notes, but most people don't even do that!
Job seekers: Thank you notes and follow-up communications are not optional, they are required.
Great follow-up can put you ahead of other candidates because:
- It shows persistence.
- It allows you to expand, reinforce or clarify something discussed in an interview.
- Good manners are always valued.
- It prevents companies from forgetting about you.
- It reinforces that you want the job.
Not following up is risky because some hiring managers will dismiss an applicant who does not send a post-interview thank you note, saying it indicates poor follow-through and a lack of interest in the position. Also, other candidates will follow up, so you could lose the opportunity to compete for the job.
Here's how to do world-class follow-up:
- Send a note within 24 hours while it's still fresh in your mind — and while you are fresh in the interviewer or hiring manager’s mind.
- Address a note to each individual person you met.
- Spell everyone's name correctly, including the company's.
- Start by thanking them for the opportunity to meet, and acknowledge that they took time out of their day to do so.
- Next, note why you think you'd be a good fit for the role. No more than three reasons. Bullet points are optimal as well. This is an opportunity to elaborate on why you are a great fit, in writing, beyond your initial cover letter and interview.
- In your close, hit these three points: Express your interest, commit to following up with them again within a specified timeframe, and thank them, again, for their time and consideration.
Here's what you do after the thank you note:
- In your next communication, begin with a pleasantry, followed by a sentence explaining where you left off during your last exchange. For example, “You had indicated to me that you'd be making your final decision during the week of <date >, and I just wanted to follow up to see where you are in that decision.”
- Include something of value in your follow-up instead of being perceived as nagging. Perhaps you just completed some training, closed a big deal, or finished a major project. Highlight those things. If you are volunteering or taking outside courses while unemployed, talk about it.
- Close with the next follow-up you will initiate. Don't ask them to call you back. Instead, let them know that, “I'll follow up again within a few days, but in case you need to reach me, here is the best contact number: XXX-XXX-XXXX.”
Dana Manciagli is a career expert and 30-year-plus veteran Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive, recently retired after a decade’s tenure at Microsoft. She is the author of “Cut the Crap, Get a Job! A New Job Search Process for a New Era.” She sits on the worldwide board of Junior Achievement and has her MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.