When and how to follow up during a job search

What's the golden rule when it comes to following up? There's not one answer to this question, but there are different approaches and guidelines you should observe. If you're not sure how soon to follow up with a professional contact after a first meeting or when to call or write a recruiter to check the status of your application, read on.

10 things you should always say in a job interview

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Networking.You meet someone at an event or through an introduction by someone you know. You think: This is a good person to know and I'd like to stay in touch. Perhaps you had a great conversation and would welcome their advice about your career path, or you are interested in positions at their company. Maybe you feel the contact personally can't help you out but has a broad network that you may be able to tap into.

  • When to follow up: Within a day or two after you meet. People are busy; if you don't contact them quickly it's possible the person might forget your conversation.
  • How to follow up: Connect with the person on LinkedIn and send an email, where you have space to write a personal message.
  • What to follow up with: Don't write more than a few lines in your email. Tell her how much you enjoyed meeting and reiterate what you discussed. If you have a point to follow up on, mention it. Alternatively, if you have an immediate question such as, "Would you be willing to take a look at my resume?" – ask. Otherwise, state that you look forward to staying in touch. An offer to help the person in any way you can is also a nice gesture no matter what your intention is.

[See: 25 Best Business Jobs for 2017.]

Online Applications.You applied for a job online and are waiting to hear back.

  • When: If you applied online and received an email to let you know your application was submitted successfully, wait about five business days to follow up with a recruiter. If you didn't get a confirmation email, go ahead and contact a recruiter in about three business days.
  • How: It's easy if the contact information for the recruiter is in the posting or if you can see who posted the job. If not, search the company's website and LinkedIn to try and find a recruiter and reach out. Email is the way to go, or LinkedIn InMail if you have them.
  • What: If you know your application was received, give the recruiter information they care about. Tell them to what job posting you applied (include the posting number if applicable), when you applied and ask for the status. A resume can easily go into the black hole of applicant tracking software and become a victim of imperfect keyword searches, so this may help you get a recruiter to actually look at your resume. If you do not know if your resume was received, write to a recruiter to ask for confirmation of receipt. Attach your resume in case it hasn't been received.

[See: Famous CEOs and Executives Share Their Best Career Advice.]

Warm Applications.If you apply to a job through a contact, i.e., you're referred for a position, how long should you wait to follow up?

  • When: If it's a close contact that's helping you out with the referral and you haven't heard anything in one week, ask your contact for the recruiter's name and contact information. Ask what time frame is appropriate for following up.
  • How: Try calling the recruiter on the phone. If you can't get the person on the phone, send an email.
  • What: Ask the recruiter about the status of your application and when you should expect to hear news.

Interviews. The first follow-up you should do is at the interview itself. At the end, if they haven't already offered a timeline, ask about next steps and when to expect to hear something.

  • When: Depending on that answer, you'll have a better idea of when it's appropriate to follow up. Wait until that period of time has passed before reaching out. If you forgot to ask about it during the interview, send a thank-you email to the hiring manager. Afterward, if you haven't heard back from anyone, call the recruiter in about three business days to find out your status and when you should expect to hear something.
  • How: It's a good idea to call first, and if you cannot reach the recruiter, send an email.
  • What: Reiterate your excitement about the position and ask what to expect as far as next steps.

[See: The 25 Best Jobs of 2017.]

No matter what part of the job search process you're in, follow-up is important. Applications can easily be lost by computers and people. Recruiters and hiring managers are busy. While you need to give them time to run applicants through their chain of command, deal with emergencies and let people return from vacation, it's important to let them know of your continued interest and ensure that you don't get lost in the black hole of online applications.

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