Once you send off a job application, the next step isn’t just sitting back and waiting. There’s plenty you can do post-application to increase your chances of getting an interview. But following up in the right manner is crucial, because following up poorly can be an application killer.
Here are five effective ways to follow up after applying for a job:
1. E-mail your application to the hiring manager. In addition to sending an application to the e-mail address specified, which is usually an HR address or generic jobs address, you can also track down the e-mail of the hiring manager and send an application to him or her as well. If an Internet search doesn’t reveal who the hiring manager is, a simple phone call to the company’s main switchboard often will do the trick.
2. Maximize LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn to see if anyone in your network is connected to someone who works at the company you’re applying to–or if anyone is even a few degrees away. Depending on who the connections are, you could then ask for background information on the job, a proactive referral or introduction, or even an interview.
3. Start Googling. If you’ve applied for a job you really want, hit the Internet and look for blogs written by people who work at the company. If you find one, read some of the posts, then contact the blogger with complimentary feedback on his or her work. If you’re able to establish a rapport, you can then mention that you’re applying at the company and ask what it’s like to work there. In some cases, this can lead to an introduction to someone who’s involved in the hiring. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll probably get some interesting or useful information about the company.
4. Get back in touch. A few days or a week after applying, follow up with the hiring manager to reiterate your interest in the job. It’s important to do this strategically so you don’t sound like you’re nagging.
Many hiring managers despise the common job-search advice to call “to follow up” on your application. Why? Because a hiring manager who’s on the ball will contact the candidates she’s most interested in. She has the application, and she’s prioritizing the search process in whatever way makes the most sense for her. When a job-seeker calls to “follow up” on their application, it means she has to stop whatever she’s doing to take the call, find their information, and respond right then and there. And remember, the applicant isn’t the only one applying; multiply that one phone call by the 200 or more applicants they likely have for the job, and you’ve got an overwhelmed manager.
Instead, send a quality follow-up e-mail that sounds something like this: "I submitted my application for your __ position last week, and I just wanted to make sure my materials arrived. I also want to reiterate my interest in the position; I think it would be a great match, and I'd love to talk with you about the position when you're ready to schedule interviews."
The key points here are that you’re being polite, not overly aggressive, expressing enthusiasm, and demonstrating respect for the person’s time.
5. Show enthusiasm, not desperation. It doesn't look desperate to express interest in the job or check in to ask about the timeline. Enthusiasm becomes desperation when a candidate calls regularly, sounding eager to take any job as opposed to this one in particular, or appearing as though this is their only option. But show enthusiasm and sincere interest in addition to your qualifications, and the employer might just respond in your favor.
Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development. She now teaches other managers how to manage for results.