How to Stand Out and Seal the Deal with Follow-Up in Your Cleared Job Search

Posted by Ashley Jones

After spending countless hours perfecting your cleared resume and cover letters, and shining at networking events and in interviews, it may feel like you’ve done everything possible to secure your dream job. However, many security-cleared job seekers falter at one critical juncture: the follow-up. This often-overlooked step can be the final push needed to cross the finish line and secure that coveted cleared job.

Following up is more than a courteous gesture—it’s a demonstration of your professionalism and interest in the position. Consider the following tips to enhance your cleared job search with effective follow-up strategies.

You’re Not Being Annoying by Following Up

First, let’s get one thing straight. It’s common for job seekers to worry that following up might come across as pushy or bothersome. However, recruiters appreciate follow-up as it shows your genuine interest.

Here’s what some recruiters have said about follow-up on our job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who’s Hiring & How:

Madelyn Spence, Sr Principal Talent Acquisition Business Partner, Northrop Grumman

“Always follow up. Don’t be scared to do so. Obviously not on a daily basis, but get a bit of a cadence with it. Follow up with me whether it’s bi-weekly or monthly.

The more you do that, the more it shows your hunger. I will be on your side if you do that. It shows dedication. And building a relationship with me is very helpful. Just because you don’t fit one job doesn’t mean that you won’t fit another opportunity in the future.”

Listen to Madelyn’s podcast episode>>>

Matt O’Hara, Red Cyber Program Manager, Valiant Integrated Services

“Follow-up is always welcome. It’s a chance for you to be more comfortable before you hit day one. I can answer any questions you have, whether it’s about our benefits package or what you’re going to expect in the first three months.

Follow-up is important because the more comfortable you can be, you’re going to be a better-contributing employee. You’re going to be a better part of the team.”

Listen to Matt’s podcast episode>>>

DJ Brown, former President and Co-Founder of DataHaven Solutions

“When I tell a candidate, ‘This didn’t work out, but I’d like to keep your resume on file for another opening I might have,’ it’s not just a line. That’s not a let you down easy kind of line. That’s the truth.

If you don’t hear from me, please follow up with me. Send me a text message. Email me. Text me, ‘Hey, just wanted to check in.’ I want to keep working with those candidates. It’s the long game.”

Listen to DJ’s podcast episode>>>

So whether you’re following up after first contact in the hiring process, or after a rejection, following up with employers is a crucial step toward landing a job—if not today, perhaps down the road. No matter what step of the hiring process you’re in currently, there’s likely follow-up to be done. Let’s begin with tips to time your follow-up for maximum impact.

Timing is Key

Timing your follow-up efforts strategically is essential for maintaining momentum in your cleared job search. Knowing when to reach out can keep your application top of mind for recruiters and hiring managers. Here’s a timeline to consider if you’re unsure when to follow up:

Immediately After Applying

How soon can you follow up? In some cases, it may be appropriate to do so right away. If you didn’t receive an automated confirmation email upon completing your application, you may want to reach out to confirm your submission was successful.

Another occasion you may want to follow up immediately is if someone at the company specifically instructed you to apply. For instance, if you’ve impressed a recruiter at a networking or hiring event, they’ll often advise you to apply online to officially start the process. In this scenario, it’s advisable to promptly follow up with your contact to inform them that you’ve applied as instructed and to reiterate your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

One to Two Weeks After Applying

If you haven’t received any acknowledgment within a week or two, send a polite email inquiring about the status of your application. Express your continued interest in the position and offer to answer any questions they may have about your background and experience.

Additionally, if you’ve identified a recruiter at your target company on LinkedIn, consider sending them a thoughtful message. Avoid simply asking to set up a call or sending them your resume without context. Introduce yourself briefly and mention that you recently applied to their position. Politely inquire if there is anything else they might need from you to support your application. This approach can be particularly beneficial if the position has received a high volume of applicants, as it allows you to stand out and establish a direct line of communication with a potential decision-maker in the hiring process.

After a Cleared Job Fair

After attending Cleared Job Fairs, whether in person or virtually, timely follow-up is crucial. Reach out to all the individuals you connected with within 24-48 hours. It’s important to collect contact information during the job fair, but if you didn’t remember to, not all hope is lost. You can often find recruiters on LinkedIn if you at least remember their names. But try to make it easy on yourself by proactively asking for a business card or their contact details.

When following up after a job fair, you also want to make it easy for the recruiter to remember who you are. They met a lot of people in a short period of time, so attach your resume and reference something specific you discussed. Even if it turns out you’re not interested in pursuing a position at their company, you should still follow up to thank them for their time. There is value in adding them to your professional network, as they may have an opportunity you’re interested in down the road – so build bridges now.

After an Interview

Following up after an interview is likely the most important follow-up of all. You worked hard to reach this stage, so don’t let your efforts fall flat now. Send individual thank-you emails within 24 hours to everyone you interviewed with. Beyond saying thank you and expressing your continued interest in the position, this is your opportunity to clarify any points you wish to expand on or share something you forgot to mention that you believe is important for your candidacy.

Also remember to follow up with your recruiter or point of contact who facilitated the interview process. Let them know you’re still very interested in the position and share any positive feedback or insights gained during your interviews. This not only reaffirms your enthusiasm but also keeps all parties informed and engaged in the process.

After a Rejection

Even if you’ve received a rejection, your follow-up efforts are not yet complete. If you made it to the interview phase, send gracious thank-you emails to your recruiter and hiring manager. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and reiterate your interest in future opportunities with the company.

This is also a great time to ask for feedback on your interview performance. Constructive feedback can help you improve your odds in the future. And of course, it’s important to end things on a positive note and refrain from burning bridges, so as to leave the door open to future opportunities.

Crafting Effective Follow-Up Communications

When following up, the content and tone of your communications are crucial. Here are some tips for crafting effective follow-up emails:

Be Concise

Keep your emails brief and to the point. Hiring managers and recruiters often juggle multiple responsibilities, so a concise email is more likely to be read and appreciated.

Personalize Your Message

Avoid sending the same generic email to multiple people. Personalize your message by referencing specific details from your application, interview, or any previous interactions. Your objective is to cultivate and deepen the relationship, so authenticity and specificity are key.

Highlight Your Value

In your follow-up emails, take the opportunity to succinctly reaffirm your value proposition. Remind the recipient of how your experiences align with the company’s needs and goals, emphasizing the unique contributions you can bring to their organization. By articulating your strengths, you reinforce why you are a standout candidate for the role.

Professional Tone

Consistently maintaining a professional tone is paramount in all your communications. Ensure your emails are not only polite and respectful but also free of any language that could be perceived as overly casual or informal. Aim to strike a balance between confidence and humility, demonstrating your respect for the recipient’s time and position while showcasing your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

Clear Subject Lines

When crafting your follow-up emails, pay careful attention to your subject lines too. Effective subject lines such as “Following Up on [Position] Application” or “Thank You for the Interview” immediately convey the purpose of your email to the recipient. This simple detail can enhance the effectiveness of your follow-up communications.

Staying Organized

Managing all the people to follow up with across the various jobs you’re pursuing can become challenging. Staying organized will help to ensure timely and effective follow-up.

Create a Tracking System

Develop a system to track your applications, follow-up actions, and responses. Consider using a program like Excel to stay organized. Include columns for the job title, company, date applied, follow-up dates, and notes.

Set Reminders

Use calendar reminders or task management tools to schedule follow-up actions. This ensures you don’t miss any critical follow-up windows.

Effective follow-up strategies can significantly enhance your cleared job search success. By timing your follow-ups appropriately, crafting impactful communications, and staying organized, you can distinguish yourself as a top cleared candidate.


  • 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, June 17, 2024 5:41 pm

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