The Importance of a Confident Follow-Up

Here's when and how you should follow up for the job you want.

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Tim Tyrell-Smith
I hear it all the time from frustrated job seekers. So many resumes sent out and so little success. You rarely get any feedback and no calls for interviews.

Is this your experience? If so, you may want to ask yourself a few questions:

How many resumes am I sending out each week? And how am I tracking the success or failure of each submission?

If you’re applying for too many jobs each week, the odds are you are being fairly unproductive. In job search, high activity does not equal results.

If you are so busy applying for new jobs, you might forget something important.

You have to follow-up.

With hundreds of resumes arriving daily to busy hiring companies, chances are high that yours will get just a few seconds under the eyes of a human, assuming it’s seen at all.

[See 9 Tips to Help Your Resume Stand Out.]

So you have to follow-up. And you have to do it with confidence. Whether you call, e-mail, text, or send a handwritten note, make sure the message is clear: “This job is a good fit for my skill and experience, and I have a genuine and enthusiastic interest in working here.”

Here are the two key times to follow-up:

After resume submission

Once submitted, your resume may be uploaded to an applicant-tracking system or it may sit in e-mail for a while until someone sifts through all of the candidates.

If your resume got lost or was mistakenly put in the wrong file, your follow-up here will remind them which job you applied for and your strong qualifications for the position.

So how do you follow-up with the hiring manager? Well, as tempting as it is to pick up the phone, it is not the preferred method of first contact according to recent research with hiring managers. In the research, the majority of hiring managers preferred a more passive approach, via email or LinkedIn note.

[See Twitter Chats for Job Seekers.]

This gives them time to get back to you on their schedule. They can also view your LinkedIn profile or Google results to check your initial credibility.

I suggest one confident follow-up after submitting your resume. More than one and you risk appearing desperate. However, a follow-up from someone you know is a nice addition. So see if you can match your follow-up with another from someone in your network who is connected to the hiring company.

A warm lead—even after you submit—can get your qualified resume another look or even a move to the top of the pile.

After the interview

The post-interview follow-up is not just a thank-you note. It should really be a message to reinforce both your interest in the job and your qualifications. And then you can express your appreciation, too.

As a hiring manager, I never wanted to be thanked after an interview. I wanted to be reminded of the key reasons we brought you in to interview and the key themes you reinforced along the way.

According to job-interview research, your enthusiasm for the position (not just any position) can make you a better fit for the job than an equally qualified candidate.

[See How the Crippled Job Market Affects Job Seekers.]

How should your post-interview follow-up be delivered?

Some suggest a traditional approach via a handwritten note. I much prefer an email or some other form of electronic communication.

Why? It’s easy to save, share, and reply to upon receipt. A hiring manager or interviewer will probably not take the time to write you back a handwritten note. Make it easy for them.

So be strategic, apply for the right jobs, and follow-up with confidence.

Tim Tyrell-Smith is founder of Tim's Strategy, a site that helps professionals succeed in job search, career and life strategy. Follow Tim on Twitter, @TimsStrategy, and learn about his two popular job-search books.