How to Follow Up for Job Search Success

Posted by Ashley Jones

Following up throughout a hiring process is essential, and sometimes nerve-wracking. You know you should, but maybe you’re stalling because don’t know how to get started. How should I do it? How often do I reach out? How soon is too soon to call again? I’m not getting results—what am I doing wrong? If you’ve asked yourself these questions, you’re not alone.

Many job seekers have a general idea of what follow-up looks like, but they don’t do it successfully. The key to following up with recruiters and hiring managers is to move the action forward. We do this in our personal lives all the time. Maybe you see your friend in town and you discuss meeting up for dinner. If you don’t hear back from them after some time, you send them a text or call them up to get the ball rolling again. Your goal in that scenario is to eventually meet up for dinner. For job seekers, your goal is to get an offer and land the job.

So how do you begin? It depends on which phase of the hiring process you’re in. The way you follow up and how often you do so evolves as you progress to each new step. Consider these tips for following up when you initially apply, after a phone interview, and after an in-person interview.

I’ve Applied Online – Now What

Before you’re tempted to spam every recruiter and employer you’ve sent an application to, ingrain this in your mind: follow-up must be meaningful. Remember we’re always trying to move the action forward and reach the next step of the process. So simply calling up HR and asking if they got your resume won’t suffice. Recruiters get dozens of emails and phone calls every day and they’re working to fill multiple positions, so they may not remember who you are.

If you’re calling to check on the status of your application, begin by asking if they have a few minutes to chat. You should always be considerate and respectful of their time. Then give them some information to work with, such as the position you applied for and also how you got their name. Perhaps you were told a week ago that your application was under consideration. Share this information and tell them you’re following up to learn the current status and to see if you can provide any additional information or answer any questions. By framing the conversation like this, you make it meaningful.

Perhaps you’re more comfortable with an email at this point in the process. If you opt for email instead, make sure you do some research and identify someone in particular to send your message to. Forget, “To Whom it May Concern.” You increase your odds of your email being read if you include someone’s name.

Your outcome will be even greater if you did some research before applying. Do you know anyone who has worked there? Always check LinkedIn and other social media platforms to see if you have existing connections.

Thank You Goes a Long Way

Once you’ve had an interview, either over the phone or in person, it’s time to really focus on your follow-up routine. Begin by sending a thank you note within 24-48 hours of your interview. For a phone or video interview, send your note via email and keep it fairly short. You might restate how you can add value to the employer, touch on a relevant skill or experience you didn’t discuss during your interview, and express your interest in the position.

If you had an in-person interview, be sure to collect business cards from every person you meet, so you can send them all thank you notes. And have a bit of variety in your emails—don’t send the same message verbatim to each recipient. A thank you note can lead to a job offer, so take time to write them thoughtfully, build the relationship further, and make a great impression.

Timing Your Follow-Up

During your interviews, you must ask your interviewer when you can expect to hear back from them. This is vital so that you can time your follow-up. If they said to expect a call in three weeks, call them by week four if you haven’t heard back. You should contact the hiring manager first, then the recruiter. Reaching out via email or phone is up to you – whichever you are more comfortable with will do the job.

If you’ve had a phone interview, aim for one thank you note and one follow-up call or email. After an in-person interview, especially one with multiple people, you can add an extra one or two follow-up emails or calls. But don’t inundate your contact with phone calls and emails every day. They have other positions to fill and get tons of phone calls, so space your follow-up attempts by about a week to 10 days apart. You might follow up two to four times over a three to four week period. It’s helpful to keep track of each time you’ve followed up.

When you do follow up, be sure to:

  • State who you are and what the job is.
  • Say you’re checking to see how their decision making process is going.
  • Ask if they need any more information.
  • Leave your full name and phone number.
  • Convey that you’re still interested in the position.

You might feel upset that you haven’t heard back from them yet, but don’t get angry or express your frustrations. Stay positive, professional, and concise. Remember, your goal is to move the action forward, so ask when you should expect to hear something.

It’s ultimately your responsibility to stay in touch with your contact. Meaningful follow-up is not a one-time action. It takes time and effort to stay in touch and remain visible. At the end of the day, people hire people. This is why building the relationship with meaningful follow-up communication is so important to job search success. So stay the course and move the action forward to achieve your goals and get the job.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 23, 2019 4:37 pm

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