How to follow up after applying for a job or having an interview

Applying for jobs can be overwhelming – in addition to keeping track of where you’ve applied, interviewing, and putting your best foot forward, you have to find ways to keep yourself top of mind with the companies you have applied to.

Unfortunately, it is pretty common to apply for jobs that don’t end up coming your way, and companies don’t always notify all applicants who didn’t get the job (or whose resume they overlooked). Sometimes you don’t hear back, despite being confident you would be a fantastic fit for the job. In cases like that, it is definitely not wrong to follow up, but it is important to do so within reason. Recruiters and hiring managers are generally trained to follow up, and if they haven’t, it is likely because they don’t have the time. How can you strike the balance between too much and too little follow up?

Be cognizant of when you applied. Ideally, make a spreadsheet listing the companies you applied to, the dates, and whether or not you followed up. While you may be eagerly waiting for your response in the days after an application, if it has been less than a week since, you should not follow up. Recruiters generally won’t get back to you in that time frame. If you want to be top of mind, do some research on the company, and maybe lurk a few people on LinkedIn (make sure your profile shows them you lurked them) so they know you are still interested. If you really want the job, use the time to research the business and get a deeper understanding of the company.

If it has been a week and a half from your application and you haven’t heard anything, that is a good time to send a brief note. If a recruiter is involved, within the second week after applying is the right time to send the recruiter a single note via either email or LinkedIn. Don’t overstep and go to the hiring manager as within those two weeks the application process is likely still with the recruiter.

If you are using social media to follow up with the recruiter, be specific, and be brief! Cite which job you applied for, the fact that you applied, reiterate your interest, and mention why you think you are great fit for the role. Keep the entire message under two sentences. You can frame the message as ensuring that your resume made it across their desk, or use some humour to stand out.

If by the third week after applying you haven’t heard back, you can try to find out who the hiring manager is, and if you figure it out, follow up casually (again, only once) with them on social media. It is appropriate to ask if there is progress or the role has been filled – again, don’t make your message over two sentences, it is important to be respectful of their time.

Had an interview?

The rules for following up after an interview are totally different than after applying. With interviews, ideally you should follow up right after, while you are still fresh in the hiring manger or recruiter’s mind. Within 24 hours is the best time for a follow up. If something went horribly wrong in the interview, address it, otherwise, keep it simple. Double (or triple) check your grammar, make sure it is well phrased and professional. Make sure it is strait forward and relevant. A follow up email is not the time to write a long essay or overshare personal information. The goal here is not to sell yourself, it is to keep yourself top of mind. If you have the contact information for a hiring manager, contact them rather than the recruiter, as the ball is likely in their court at this point in time.

If you haven’t heard anything after an interview, you can follow up within a week requesting next steps, what type of timeframe they anticipate making the decision, or mentioning that this opportunity is still your first choice (but you have other interviews). Beyond a week, if there has been radio silence, in all likelihood you didn’t get that job – you are better off exploring other job opportunities.
Best of luck!

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