When Should You Follow Up After Submitting a Job Application?

Job ApplicationWondering when you should follow up after you’ve submitted an application for employment?  In today’s job market you don’t always know who will be getting your resume and cover letter; in fact, in very rare circumstances you’ll have the HR manager’s e-mail address or contact information.  If this is the case, should you follow up—and if so, when?

I will forewarn you of two things.  First, I’m writing this based on ten years of experience as a recruiter and HR manager—the person on the other side of the desk.  And second, you’re probably not going to like my advice.

SHOULD I FOLLOW UP?

Don’t waste your time …

What’s that, you say?!  Don’t follow up after submitting an application?!  If you’re one of those job seekers who calls people incessantly, hounding them about the “status of your application”, you’re annoying the hiring manager and wasting his or her time.  What you are NOT doing is positioning yourself as a top candidate for the opening.

Let me be very clear here:  A hiring manager will likely receive hundreds of applications for each opening.  If each one of those people called, e-mailed, or otherwise contacted that hiring manager, the person in charge of hiring would have no time left to actually FIND the qualified candidate.  In fact, she’d spend all her time fielding calls and answering e-mails from interested applicants.  I’m sure you can imagine how much time it would require to follow up with every single applicant.  The hiring manager’s role is to fill the vacancy with the most qualified person for the position.  If your resume demonstrates that you are qualified, you won’t have to follow up with the employer; they will contact you.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD?

Use your job search time in more meaningful and effective ways.  Instead of following up on every application, use your time to track your job search applications versus your resume response rate.  Tracking these statistics will give you an overall picture of how many applications you’re submitting versus how many call-backs you are receiving.  And this information is priceless.  It can tell you two things: first, it will tell you if your resume is effective in securing call-backs; and second, whether you are applying for the right types of positions with your resume.

One last tip: only invest your time in following up after an actual interview.


Author:

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, speaker and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates high-impact, best-in-class resumes and cover letters that transform job searches into interviews and ultimately job offers. For more information about professional resume writing or to read more career and job search related articles visit http://www.greatresumesfast.com or call 1.800.991.5187.

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, global resume authority and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast, is a former HR Manager who partners with professional- and executive-level candidates to create authentic, branded resumes and cover letters. An international resume columnist and resume expert for JobTalkAmerica radio, her work opens doors to lucrative positions at Fortune 500 companies.

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Comments

  1. I concur with Jessica’s comments to a degree. She is very right that the chance of getting to the hiring manager by simply responding to a job listing is correct. She is also right that a job listing for a good position with a good company can attract hundreds of responses which are often electronically scanned for key words to pull out resumes for review. If you do not have all of the keywords being searched, you will not be selected for review. It is also not unusual that the key words programmed are picked by HR or the hiring manager and often are not the final keywords used in the final selection. The best you might expect is an email confirmation that your information will be kept on file but what you will most often receive is the “sound of silence”.

    JOB SEEKERS WHO RELY TOTALLY ON JOB LISTINGS OR WORKING THROUGH RECRUITERS ARE SIMPLY FIGHTING FOR THE SCRAPS AS LESS THEN 25% OF POSITIONS ARE MADE VISIBLE. 75% ARE HIDDEN/UNADVERTISED OR OFTEN NOT EVEN ON THE BOOKS FOR HIRING BUT ARE CREATED BY SKILLED JOB SEEKERS.

    I disagree though, with Jessica and would encourage a job seeker, if the company is identified, to attempt to get to the person in the company, most often in HR, who will be responsible for selecting candidates and often doing the initial interview. Wait three days and simply call and ask to speak to HR. if you get to HR ask to speak to the person responsible for candidate review for the specific position and selection for an interview. Confirm receipt of your paperwork and ask it there is any other information that would be of value.

    Assuming you do not get through wait seven days from date of sending. If no contact, use the fact a position exists as business intelligence, identify who the hiring manager would be through the many search sources available or simply call the company and ask for the name of the expected hiring manager by position. You will most often get it. If asked the reason, simply indicate you would like to send him or her some information.

    You now develop a “spot opportunity letter” in which you approach the decision maker positioning yourself as a SOLUTION to a set of well defined KEY CHALLENGES and not as a person seeking employment or a person trying to sell a consulting service. These key challenges must be high impact bottom line challenges that are of major importance to both the employer and the hiring manager. You never mention you know a position exists. Your initial mission through the spot opportunity letter is to present a high enough potential return to encourage the decision maker to open the dialogue. Once opened, the mission is to continue building the potential return to so as to be invited in to discuss ways that you could make a major contribution to helping that firm and manager meet those challenges. If at all possible you want to define those challenges as having a potential, measurable and significant negative impact on the organization. People are motivated more by fear of loss than opportunity or gain. You always include a time certain for follow-up and follow up.This is part of the branding process which positions you as a unique and potential highly valuable asset and not just one more person who wants to waste the time of the decision maker. If executed effectively and with persistence it is not unusual you will become the preferred candidate and will have avoided being ignored totally or the initial HR screening where you would just be one of a number of candidates, through your meeting with the hiring manager and going through a discovery process, it is common that a new position can be created or an existing position can be reviewed for replacing the incumbent with you as the replacement.

    THIS STRATEGY CAN BE USED AS WELL, WHEN APPROACHING A COMPANY WHERE NO POSITION HAS BEEN ADVERTISED ENABLING YOU OFTEN CREATE A POSITION AND WITH NO COMPETITION. IT CAN ALSO BE USED TO APPROACH A SMALL GROUP OF COMPANIES IN THE SAME INDUSTRY.

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