How to follow up job applications

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Here’s a common scenario: You make a thorough job search and choose several leads that you are perfect for. Then you send out your targeted resume and impressive cover letter to these companies only to wait weeks, then months, with no reply. Oh well, you say. Maybe you’ll find another lead. But have you ever considered following-up after sending a job application?

Many HR gurus recommend this step as a way to show companies your interest in the job and as an opportunity to reiterate your qualifications. It can be somewhat scary to do, especially if you are a newcomer, but just think – this could be the thing that sets you apart from all the other applicants. If you do it right, you can be seen as a proactive and competent candidate. This attention can boost your chances of getting your application on top of the pile for consideration and perhaps snag you that interview.

To help you out, here are four simple steps in following-up your application:

  1. Observe a reasonable time

    The best time to follow-up an application would be a week to 10 days. It could be longer, if you applied early and the job posting specifies an exact date or season when they expect the newly hired personnel to start, and it’s months away. But generally, one to two weeks is a good time to follow-up.

  2. Decide on the best way to do it

    Depending on your personality, you could follow-up by email or through a call. If you are the type who shines during a phone call, then, by all means, call to follow-up. But prior to calling, make sure that you have your message prepared so that you will not forget anything or stumble over your words, especially if you are not used to speaking in English. If you are more reserved, sending an email is your safe and convenient choice. Just make sure that you write a brief and concise email that will not end up in the company’s spam folder.

    Some may advice sending a letter through snail mail because it is more formal or that it makes you more memorable (since nobody else will probably do it). Although the decision, of course, is up to you, you should consider whether sending snail mail would be practical. Many offices are moving towards a “paper-free” workplace to be more environment-friendly, so there’s a chance that some may frown upon your print out.

  3. Prepare your message

    If you are making a call, list down the most important points (or questions) that you wish to say. A good lead in is to say that you are calling to check if they have received your application for (position) which you sent on (date). Make you message brief and straight to the point. However, don’t forget to start your call with a greeting and to always be polite. Watch this video from snagajob for great tips:

    If you are sending an email, write a brief letter with the purpose of checking whether they received your application or not (read 7 tips for writing great emails). Make sure to mention the title of the position you are applying for and the date you sent your documents. This is also your opportunity to reiterate how much you would like to be given a chance to work for the company. If you could include additional information in your email, like congratulating the company for a recent achievement or perhaps if you’ve had a recent achievement yourself, like finishing a course, it would add a great dimension to your note.

    Also, squeeze in a reminder like: “If there are points that are not clear to you in my resume, I will be happy to discuss them further with you. I am available for interview on … or at a date more convenient for you” towards the end of your email. Always close with a “Thank you” whether following up by phone or email. For a sample follow-up email, read: How to follow-up on a job application: An email template by Alex Cavoulacos of The Muse.com.

  4. Call or send your follow-up email

    Always make sure you have the right contact details! You should make a list of all your applications before you conduct your follow-ups. Note down each application indicating the company, job title, date you sent the application, contact person, contact details, and date of follow-up. Having a clear reference will prevent you from making mistakes that can make you look unprofessional.

    If you don’t hear from the company after your follow-up, don’t call or email again too soon. This may annoy the staff or make you look too desperate. About Careers recommends not contacting the company more than three times and to leave a couple of weeks in between inquiries. Goodluck!

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