Tips on Following Up After You Send a Resume

Who you should contact, and how long you should wait.

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One of the most frequent questions I get from job seekers is about follow-up timing after submitting a resume. Who do I contact and how long should I wait?

The answer depends on how you were introduced to the company. If you respond to a job posting online, it's important to remember that some ads generate hundreds of responses a day. Many companies have tools to automate processing your application into their applicant tracking systems. A real person may not be looking at the responses sent and many times, the hiring manager isn't even involved at this stage.

[See 21 Things Hiring Managers Wish You Knew.]

The best way to make sure your resume gains the attention it deserves is to tweak it to fit the job description. It sounds like obvious advice, but job seekers often don't do it. Integrate the keywords that a recruiter might use to find a qualified candidate in their database. Your goal is to make sure your resume will be found and put on the short-list. If you have done this and haven't heard back, give it a week and follow-up.

The best-case scenario is when you know someone within the company. An internal recommendation almost always holds more weight (as long as you are qualified). If your contact presents your resume to the hiring manager or the HR department directly, your chances getting an interview improve immensely. Ask your contact to let you know when your resume has been received, and follow-up directly with the hiring contact in a day or two by phone or E-mail.

[See Why You Should Never Skip the Interview Thank-you Note.]

In both cases, your follow-up should be concise, polite, and reiterate your interest in the position. Highlight how your qualifications make you a good fit. Be specific and don′t assume that the company will recognize your name or for which position you applied.

A few key points about following up:

  • Don't re-send the same resume and cover letter multiple times for the same position. Sending the same E-mail over and over lessens your chance of getting an interview because it seems desperate and disorganized. Make it obvious that you are following up on a specific position for your applications sent on a specific dates.
  • Keep a positive tone in your follow-up message. A job search can be frustrating, especially when you feel that you are qualified and don't receive a response. A negative or an accusatory tone will kill your chance of getting a response as well as any future opportunities with the company.
  • It would be wonderful to hear back from every employer, but it's not realistic. If you have followed up three times and have not heard back, it's time to move on. Don't take it personally.
  • [See more job advice at U.S. News Careers.]

    Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and recruiter with Paradigm Staffing, a national search firm that specializes in placing public relations and communications professionals. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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