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A recruiter’s top tips to following up on a job application

There is a way to do it without being annoying!

You’ve scoured the net, applied for the perfect job and then you hear nothing back from the prospective employer – should you follow up? How do you go about it? Email? Call? Glassdoor’s expert recruiter and Talent Acquisition Partner James Parker, shared his top tips on the Glassdoor website – reiterated here:

  1. TRY EMAIL FIRST

In todays digital world, phone calls can be seen as interrupting and time consuming. 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.”

  1. BE SPECIFIC ABOUT YOUR FIT

Glassdoor states that 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. BE CONSIDERATE OF YOUR CONTACT’S TIME

If your contact welcomes the attention, 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 one-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.

  1. CUSTOMISE 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.

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5 comments

  1. Very good advice.

    As a candidate myself I’ve had success a number of times with the old ‘follow up’ email.
    Sometimes it just flat out helps to jog a recruiter’s memory, remind them who you are and demonstrate that you’re not afraid to go out on a limb for the right job.

    That said, putting on my recruiter’s hat, I’ll also add that it never bothers me when a candidate follows up – and occasionally, even if they’ve been unsuccessful in their first application, I’ll bear them in mind if something else comes along.

    I guess, that at the end of the day, it’s all about the old proverb; ”If you don’t ask, you’ll never know”.

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