The Art of Follow-up

The Art of Follow-up

Some of the most common questions I hear from job seekers have to do with if/when/how to follow-up. Whether you’ve met a new contact, submitted a resume or gone in for interviews, appropriate follow-up is critical. Use your specific situation to determine how to best follow-up. Here are the basic guidelines as a start:

  • Always follow-up. You show interest, enthusiasm and proactivity when you follow-up.
  • Timely follow-up signals strong intention whereas a long delay in follow-up may convey disinterest or disorganization.
  • Every follow-up should be professional and concise.
  • Most follow-up suggests or asks about next steps.

When to follow up

  • After meeting someone new: 1-3 days. Remind him or her of the connection and suggest a next step in building a professional relationship.
  • Introduced via network: No longer than 2 days. Thank the person who introduced you, tell the new contact about yourself briefly and the reason for connecting. Suggest a next step such as meeting in person or talking over the phone.
  • When someone agrees to help you in some way: Depending on what was promised. If no specific time was given, it’s appropriate for a gentle reminder with one week or so. Your follow-up should be clear but light so as not to overly pressure. If the request is time sensitive, you may follow-up sooner, explaining, politely and concisely, the reasons for prompt action.
  • Resume submitted: 2-7 days. Email the hiring manager, recruiter or HR person, check if materials were received and if additional materials are needed. Ask about next steps in the process and timing.
  • Interviews (phone or in-person): At the conclusion of the interview, ask about timing of next steps. Send a follow up email within 24 hours of the interview. Then if you do not hear within 48 hours after they said they would get back to you, contact them. If you didn’t establish a time frame during the interview, check in about 3-5 days after the interview. Be sure to clearly express your interest. Relating to discussions during interview would make it more powerful.

How to follow-up

  • Email is the preferred method in most situations. It’s less intrusive than a phone call.
  • If a phone follow-up is more appropriate, writing down the key points beforehand would be helpful in case you need to leave a message.
  • Keep communication professional. Email is not an excuse to become overly casual or familiar.
  • Be gracious. Thank where appropriate.
  • Keep the tone light but professional.
  • If following up on a specific job, remind of your interest and the match between your abilities and their needs.
  • Keep follow-up concise and to the point. Make clear what you are asking.

The most important thing about follow-up is to “just do it”. Don’t let shyness, procrastination or uncertainty stop you from moving forward to build your network, advance your candidacy for a job and ultimately get hired.


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