Many job searchers open up the Sunday classifieds, send out X number of resumes and just wait for the phone to ring. The failure is that they re not following up and they re not conscious of the fact that they have competition, says Ross Primack, resource associate with the Connecticut Department of Labor in Wethersfield, Conn. (www.ctdol.state.ct.us)
For more than 16 years, Primack has helped people land jobs and has taught the value of follow-up in the job search process. The message for all job seekers to a prospective employer is I m the best job candidate because and they need to deliver that message throughout the job application process, Primack says.
Primack says job seekers who succeed at following up with employers usually are the most organized at conducting their job searches. It doesn t have to be high-tech organization, Primack says. I ve worked with clients who have a scrapbook. They ve got the cut-out ads taped on the page along with notes about who they spoke to and their plans for follow-up, he says. Other job seekers have an extensive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with columns and comments; Primack says both groups are successful.
The other key is good communication skills. Candidates must find a clear, succinct way to tell employers that they are the best candidate for the job.
How do you get your carefully delivered message through? If you interview for a job, set your follow-up in motion at the end of the interview by simply asking if you can check back, say Primack and Debra Feldman. Feldman is known nationally as the JobWhiz (www.jobwhiz.com); she helps senior executives with their job searches. The worst someone can ever say is no, so why not suggest a future contact and see what the answer is, Feldman says.
This is a great time to ask for the interviewer s business card. And don t forget one of the most important post-interview follow-up tools: the thank-you letter. I know of employers who may have a candidate who looks great on paper and conducts a great interview but if they don t send a thank-you letter, they re out of consideration, Primack says. And if the employer asks for any follow-up, such as a list of references, be sure to come through on time.
If the interviewer has given you an idea of the decision timeframe, follow up regularly Primack suggests weekly until that time. And be sure to leave a voice mail if your contact is out. Remind contacts of your name, the position and that you interviewed on a particular date. Let them know you re interested and close by thanking them for their time. Keep it brief but detailed enough to help their recall. And don t call on a Monday, Primack warns.
Timing is Everything
Follow-up still is important when all you ve done is submit an application or resume. Picture a person sitting and looking at a stack of applications, not knowing where to begin. Then the phone rings, and you re the person calling, Primack says. Your timing may be just right. Finding out who to call and bypassing the gatekeeper becomes a little trickier when you haven t interviewed. But it just takes some legwork and creativity.
Find out the name and e-mail or phone number of the actual hiring manager, not HR, Feldman says. She suggests contacting the hiring manager for more information and for follow-up. Primack says you can ask for the manager s business card or information when you apply. If this doesn t work, you can always pick up the phone and call. Feldman says you often can find this information on the company s Web site as well. Check the corporate Web site for organization structure or our team, she says.
Leave a polite, succinct and detailed voice mail. Or try sending a fax. Primack says that managers are inundated with e-mails today and that faxes still carry a sense of urgency. No matter the follow-up, be persistent and organized. Often, it s just bad timing and a future inquiry might be better received, Feldman says.
On the other hand, she says to heed a clear and unequivocal go away message. Never show desperation. After one month of follow-up, Primack often advises clients to send a final interest letter, in which they say they applied, are still interested and if there is an opening at some point in the future to please keep you in mind. Then let it go, he advises.
Copyright CTW Features
By Teresa Odle
Woman on phone