9 Lives for Women Blog

Follow-Up: The Job Search Magic Wand | April 18th, 2013

When you’re new to the job search game and your first resume is not filled with impressive jobs or internships, it can seem like employers are on pedestals as high as the presidency of the United States. As a result, new college graduates often lack confidence and wait for jobs to land on their laps.

This lack of confidence is compounded by the digital age. It’s way too easy to hide behind your computer and send resumes to non-intimidating email addresses. If you email your resume 10, 20 or 30 times a day, it feels like you are doing something—when in fact you are doing very little to advance your search overall.

The same game of hide and seek is played with job search follow-up. Too many young job seekers—and those much older, too—conduct an email job search and then sit back and wait. The fact is that a job search must be active, not passive—and you have to make the effort to connect with and follow-up with real people who generally do not bite.

Online job boards, newspaper ads and even many company web site postings are passive routes to a job. All of these options generate thousands of applicants—so you could be waiting a long time for a response that often never transpires. These job search resources should be used sparingly—and only if you network to find real people at each company who can help your resume stand out.

Networking through personal connections and Linkedin is the way you will find a job. But even when you find friendly advocates, you can’t assume that they keep you top of mind. With good intentions they’ll offer to show your resume to colleagues or HR—but you have to make sure this happens. Follow up a week or two later if you haven’t heard anything more from your networking contact or another person at the company. And follow up again (and again) if more time passes without a response.

A persistent follow-up strategy is key throughout your entire job search process. If you have an interview, follow up a week or two afterward to see where things stand. The timing depends on the conversation you had with the interviewer. You should always ask when employers expect to make a decision and follow up if you don’t hear anything soon after that date.

Job seekers of all ages worry that they will bother employers or seem desperate, pushy or intense. In a tight job market, especially, employers understand. You won’t be penalized for continuing to show your interest and enthusiasm for a specific job or company: stay in close touch with networking contacts or interviewers.

Follow-up is where email is fine—as long as you do more than say “just checking in to see where things stand”. Find new things to say in each of your follow-up emails: reference points from your conversations, focus on news that you’ve heard about the company or industry, mention volunteer activities you’ve taken on, talk about something you learned from an industry or networking event you attended—or other things that show you are active and engaged.

In a job search you can’t just rely on luck and chance. A fortune cookie would advise: she who takes the initiative to follow up finds work faster than those who don’t.  —KAS

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