Are you the kind of person who carefully researches a position and company before you submit an application? Or do you look up job titles in your field on Glassdoor and desperately wish there was an “APPLY ALL” button?
However you enter into the application process with a company, submitting your application is not the end of your work. In fact, it’s just the beginning of a long and hopefully fruitful relationship – which makes it extra frustrating when you submit your information and don’t hear back for days and days, or even weeks and weeks.
Should you follow up? And if so, should you email or call or show up at the company’s next all-hands meeting? These are the questions we’re answering today with the help of Glassdoor’s expert recruiter and Talent Acquisition Partner James Parker.
Whether you’re passively targeting one or two specific opportunities or peppering your field with inquiries, here are the most important things to think about when you follow up after a job application:
Try email first
In today’s highly structured world, few professionals have time on their calendars to field anonymous phone calls. Emailing recruiters and hiring managers shows greater respect for their schedule because they can process and respond to your note on their own time.
“Since I frequently recruit for sales positions, I often get candidates who cold call me to showcase their skills,” says Parker. “But since almost every minute of the day is accounted for, cold calls go right to voicemail. For most jobs, emailing is the safest way to follow up after a job application without ruffling any feathers.”
Be specific about your fit
Focus and relevance are the two most important pieces of communicating with hiring managers and recruiters during a job search. Beyond individual preference, it’s not so much the format you use but what you say. A boring and generic, “Hey, I applied!” or “Look at my application and let me know if I’m a fit!” email is just as bad as pestering your contact with unwanted phone calls.
“Look at our positions, find one, do research, and do the work of letting me know how you’re a good fit,” says Parker. “If you’ve been proactive and you can show me how your background in XYZ fits the XYZ role we’re hiring for, that’s meaningful, and I’ll want to talk to you.”
This strategy works especially if you’re applying for a job that’s different from your background: “When you explain your fit for the role for me, showcase how you’ve developed the skills you need,” explains Parker. “If you’re bringing camp counselor experience to an entry-level sales role, tell me how you’ve talked with parents and overcome objections and managed multiple conversations at the same time. Connect the dots for me, or I won’t be able to justify spending time on your application when there’s a large pool of more traditionally qualified candidates.”
Let company culture guide you
“The type of company and the type of role should guide how you follow up to a job application,” says Parker. “In the case of Glassdoor, we’re not a cold calling company, so calling your contact out of the blue wouldn’t be as welcome as, say, a meaningful follow-up email or reaching out through one of my social media channels.”
Whether or not you’re applying for an open position with Glassdoor specifically, the job search tool is so detailed that you never have to approach a company blindly. It’s up to you to use the research at your disposal to get a sense of what is and isn’t in line with the company’s culture and build a follow-up plan based on that information.
Display your skills
Every interaction you have with a recruiter or hiring manager is part of the interview process – email, phone call, voicemail, or in-person meeting. So however you choose to follow up after a job application, treat it like the opportunity to display your communication skills that it is. Carefully proofread your emails and make notes in advance of calls so that you can always speak with poise.
“Part of the interview process is assessing a candidate’s communication skills as we exchange emails,” says Parker. “In the past, if I’ve been on the fence about a candidate and then see they respond with poor grammar or bad English – especially if they were born and educated in an English-speaking country – I start thinking that that’s how they’ll communicate with clients. If it’s not a good email coming in, then it won’t be a good email going out to clients or coworkers.”
Be considerate of your contact’s time
If your contact welcomes the attention, a being slightly more aggressive when you follow up after a job application may show that you’re passionate about the job. However, if you aren’t very careful, it may also show that you’re oblivious to the needs of others.
“In one situation, I chatted on the phone with a candidate and determined this person was not a good fit,” explains Parker. “After I send an email explaining the situation, this person showed up at the office to ‘prove me wrong’ and insisted on meeting with me. Because I pride myself on customer service and being attentive to everyone I speak with, it put me in a difficult position of fitting in an unexpected 1-hour meeting into a packed schedule. This move ended up solidifying my original decision not to pursue this person.”
If you feel strongly that you need to show up to make your case, do so in a way that shows your interest without burdening your recruiter or hiring manager with a long visit. Deliver a handwritten note in person and leave after giving your contact a quick hello, or send a small treat like coffee and donuts with a short note responding to any feedback you received throughout the interview process. These methods still may not change the fact that you simply aren’t a good fit for the job, but they’ll give you one more contact point without damaging the relationship you have.
Customized all of your correspondence
It’s always appropriate to send a thank you note after an interaction or a meeting. But if you copy the same note to everyone you interact with at the company, you’ll undermine your efforts to show how thoughtful you are. Make sure your interviewers won’t be disappointed when they compare notes by customizing your message for the recipient.
“If you speak with three recruiters, email each of us with a unique message based on our background or a particular part of our conversation,” says Parker. “If you interview and send the same follow-up email to each of us, it’s a missed opportunity to make yourself stand out. Taking the extra three to four minutes to write a unique email could be the difference in the next three to four years of your life.
There’s a reason the post-application phase of a job search is so confusing: there are as many different ways to follow up as there are recruiters and companies. If you want to confidently follow up after a job application, the most important step you can take is to understand the company’s culture and align your actions accordingly. Good luck!