You’ve applied online for a job you really want. But you can’t help wondering what your chances are against other applicants or whether your materials have disappeared into cyberspace. A follow-up phone call or email to the employer might help you see where you stand. But is that really a good idea? It depends.
"Hiring managers tell me they appreciate tenacity and the expression of enthusiasm and confidence about their fit that applicants convey by calling to follow up," says Carol Anderson, director of career development and placement at the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy in New York City.
"We recently hired a student who wrote a lovely email detailing his background and why he wanted to get his work-experience requirement through working with our firm," says Julia McKinley, national recruitment for Grant Thornton LLP in Canada, which is part of global accounting and consulting company Grant Thornton International. "When he called to follow up, I was impressed. He had done his research on the firm and had concrete reasons why he wanted to gain experience with us. So even though we had no budget and no opening, we hired him."
But there’s another side to this story: The follow-up call that impresses one hiring manager may just annoy another.
"I think that following up on a résumé sent through the mail was more accepted, even if it was to make sure that the right person received the résumé," says Bonita Martin, field employment and retention manager for Western & Southern Financial Group in Cincinnati. "But now that the Internet provides recruiters with hundreds of people sending résumés for positions, and each person may or may not meet the qualifications for the position, I prefer that candidates not follow up on an initial resume or reply to an advertisement."
It’s ultimately your decision as to whether you should follow up with employers. But if you decide to do so, keep these key suggestions in mind.
How You Follow Up Matters
Most college students and recent grads who follow up with employers "call and say, ‘I haven’t heard anything,’" says Al Pollard, a career-development specialist at the University of North Texas who spent seven years working as a recruiter for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "My thought is, ‘you won’t hear anything with that attitude.’"
Instead, let the person you’re dealing with know "you sent a résumé for the position of ______, and that you want to make sure your résumé was received and check on when people might be contacted for interviews," says Linda Wyatt, director of the career center at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
No One Likes a Stalker
If you do follow up, particularly by phone, make "not 10 phone calls, mind you, just one or, at most, two," says Anderson.
Also, remember that it’s best to wait at least a few days before following up. And employers who include "no phone calls, please" in their job listings do so for a reason.
Email Is a Viable Option
Some employers hate getting follow-up phone calls but don’t mind such emails. "It really is just a matter of convenience and time management," says Martin. "I’m able to print a thank-you or follow-up email and include it with a resume/candidate file and quickly reply to a candidate that the recruiting and selection process may take up to two months."
A Simple Script Comes in Handy
If a follow-up phone call sounds intimidating, use a brief script. Here’s an example:
This is ______ calling. A few days ago I applied for the ______ position in your company’s ______ department/division. I’m calling to make sure you received my résumé and to reiterate my interest in the position.
Be sure to practice your words until they sound unscripted before you pick up the phone.
Monster’s Résumé Expert Kim Isaacs offers more follow-up sample scripts .
Brief Is Best
Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of an unexpected 20-minute phone call or a four-page email. So keep your follow-up concise. You don’t need many words to make a strong impression that will lead to an interview and hopefully, the job itself.
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