The Fortune Is in the Follow Up: A Guide for Job Seekers
You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “The fortune is in the follow up.” This holds true in many areas of life and work, and perhaps one area where your ability to follow up can make a huge difference is in your job search. Being timely and proactive when reaching out to potential employers and recruiters can be a defining factor of success in your search.
Of course, following up is not a one-time event! You must follow up consistently and at many points within your job-search journey to truly enjoy success. Here are some areas where strategic outreach can help you stand out from a sea of candidates.
We’ve heard lots of stories of the cards people receive from attending networking events, but what they very rarely mention is how they followed up after those events. Collecting cards does you no good if you don’t start to forge and build relationships. And remember: The goal of networking is not to land a job opportunity outright (although that certainly can happen). Instead, what you’re looking to do is make connections with the right people or individuals who can connect you to the people you want to meet. Think of networking like dating: You don’t get married after your first meeting; you spend time getting to know each other, building trust.
Strive to follow up with people you meet at networking events within 24 hours (that’s one day). Ideally, you’ll reach out to them with a LinkedIn connection request as well as a personalized email message. In your message, remind them where you met and drop something that you enjoyed about meeting them or the conversation you had. Of course, this means you’ll need to take notes immediately after speaking with people at events, which will provide you with this fodder in follow-ups.
If you feel the person you met is someone who can be a benefit moving forward, suggest a coffee meeting, phone call, or Zoom conversation to discuss mutual interests or potential collaborations. When sending a LinkedIn connection request, you only get 300 characters, so your message must be brief, but you’ll have more space in an email. In all the following examples, names have been removed, but be sure to address your notes and sign them.
It was great to meet you at last night’s chamber mixer. I enjoyed discussing your upcoming vacation to Italy, and I’m excited to hear what you think of it! I hope you’ll join my network so we can stay in touch.
I really enjoyed our conversation at the chamber mixer last night. I’ll admit I’m a little envious about your upcoming Italy trip, and I look forward to hearing about what you love best there.
As I mentioned, I’m currently looking for a position as a project manager and am targeting tech companies. If you hear of an opportunity, I hope you’ll keep me top of mind.
When you’re back in town, let’s schedule some time to sit down and have a cup of coffee. I want to see all your great pictures! I’ll follow up in a couple of weeks to get a date on our calendars.
After Applying for a Job
While post-event follow-up is important for building relationships and staying at the center of potential opportunities, when you apply for a job, the opportunity is right there in front of you! Unfortunately, though, too many candidates apply for positions by clicking “apply”—and stop there. Getting through a sea of 200+ applicants (and sometimes way more) is partially about having an ATS-compatible resume, but it’s also about differentiating yourself. You can do this successfully by reaching out to the person who posted the position or another decision maker.
If you find a job on LinkedIn and the person who posted it is included, your job here is easy. Sometimes, they even have a message button next to their name (see image below). On the other hand, if no name is listed or you find the position on another site with no contact information, you’ll have to do some digging. That’s easy enough. Use LinkedIn and search for the company first, then people at the company. Some titles to look up include anything in talent or human resources. If you know the title of the person to whom you could be reporting (sometimes shared in the job description), that’s another good connection.
When you are able to message someone, either because they have allowed messages from anyone or because you pay for LinkedIn Premium, you have a lot more space to share information. In this case, your message should resemble a cover letter. You can also attach your resume, if you choose. When sending an InMail isn’t an option, you can send a connection request. Here, you are limited to 300 characters, so get to the point quickly. Try something like:
I recently applied for the position of IT director at X company and wanted to introduce myself. I’m excited about the opportunity and hope you’ll join my network so we can stay connected.
After Applying (and Some Time Has Passed)
In addition to that immediate outreach to the job poster or decision maker right after applying, you also want to follow up with the applications you’ve submitted. Wait a week or so and then send a follow-up email. Since you already did the research to find the right person when you initially applied, this should be easy. Keep it light but with an interested tone. One option might be:
I applied for the role of marketing director last week and am writing to share my enthusiasm for this opportunity. I’m sure you’re reviewing candidates, and I hope that you’ll keep me on your short list! I am positive I will add value to X company in this role given my experience in marketing and my proven ability to deliver results on omnichannel campaigns. I’m open to chat at your convenience.
After Each Interview
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “always be closing,” and it doesn’t just apply in business sales. You should be closing each and every interview you have, from the phone screen up until you’re presented with an offer. Following up after each interview helps you to close it, highlight your fit with the position, and move your candidacy to the next step.
Write your thank-you note the same day as your interview, preferably as soon as possible. Email is a good choice in a virtual environment, but if you go to an office for your meeting, send a handwritten card as well. Write a thank-you note to each person you met and personalize it. Bring up something you covered in the interview, perhaps a concern they had about you, or something you want to reiterate (or share for the first time). Always thank the interviewers for their time and let them know how enthusiastic you are about moving forward. You can try something like this:
Thank you for the time you spent with me today discussing the bank manager position at X Bank. I enjoyed learning more about the role and sharing how I match with your needs. As I mentioned when we chatted, I have been working in consumer and business banking on the frontline for several years and am eager to move up to a leadership position where I can share my knowledge and passion with the team. With your upcoming goals to build the branch and expand, this will be an ideal time for me to jump in to recruit and onboard new tellers and banking specialists.
I look forward to the next steps in the process, and if you have additional questions I can answer for you, don’t hesitate to ask!
As with your initial application, if you haven’t heard anything a week or so after interviewing, it’s okay to check-in and see how things are progressing. Some companies make quick decisions while others take a bit longer. Naturally, you’ll want to stay in alignment with the timeline you were provided, so if you were told it will be two weeks or more before you hear anything, don’t contact them during week one.
Again, share your enthusiasm for the position and offer to answer any questions they might have to help them make a decision.
Follow Up After You Receive an Offer
It might seem to be a no-brainer that you would follow up after you receive a job offer. After all, you need to let them know if you accept or decline and get started on the next steps. But what many candidates forget here is the thank you, being quick with your communication, and showing gratitude.
You will likely be offered the position via email or on a phone call. Most job seekers prefer to take a little time to review the offer (always ask for it in writing), so be ready to thank the employer for the offer and ask for a little time to review. Keep to the timeline you outline.
If you plan to accept the offer, send a written acceptance letter (email is fine). In it, thank them for the opportunity, share your enthusiasm for the position and company, and ask what you can do prior to starting to get ramped up quicker.
If you plan to decline the offer, send a written letter. Again, share your gratitude, thank them for the time they spent with you, and let them know—briefly—why you’re declining.
Be sure you manage all salary negotiations before saying yes or no to a job opportunity.
Following Up Is Key to Your Job-Search Success
In the world of job hunting, follow-up is the unsung hero. It is an extremely powerful tool, but too many job seekers don’t wield it well, if at all. However, when used diligently and with purpose, following up demonstrates your professionalism, eagerness, and genuine interest in the role. We can’t emphasize enough the power of timely and thoughtful follow-up, as it may well be the key to unlocking the door to your next career opportunity.
Resume and Career Services is committed to your success in your job search. We provide support throughout the process, including resume writing, LinkedIn optimization, cover letters, and career coaching. Learn more about our services here.