The following is an excerpt from the book It's the last one I will be running in this series.
Many people forget the post-interview work that needs to be done during a job search. They assume the interview happens, they either get the job or don't get it, and it's over. But in many cases, the interview is not the end and specific and strategic follow-up can make the difference in getting hired. This excerpt covers the post-interview actions we need to consider to maximize our chances of getting a job offer.
The weakest part of the job search process is the deplorable state of follow-up. It’s so much more than thank you notes, but those aren’t even being sent. Job seekers, thank you and follow-up communications are not optional; they are required.
Here are the benefits of great follow-up, all of which can put you ahead of another candidate:
1. Shows persistence.
2. Allows you to expand, reinforce, or clarify something discussed in the interview.
3. Good manners are always valued.
4. Prevents them from forgetting about you.
5. Reinforces that you want the job.
Here are the downsides of NOT following up:
- A portion of hiring managers will dismiss an applicant who does not send a post-interview thank you note, saying it indicates poor follow-through and a lack of interest in the position.
- Other candidates will follow up, so you lost an opportunity to compete for that job.
If you mastered Chapter 17, then your follow-up began in the interview when you asked, “What is the next step?” or, “When do you plan to make a decision?” With that knowledge, you can time your follow-up post-interview.
World-class follow-up looks like:
- Sending a note within 24-48 hours while it’s still fresh in your mind—and the company’s.
- Addressing a note to each individual person you met with.
- Spelling everyone’s name correctly, including the company’s.
Sample flow of a thank you note:
- Start by thanking them for the opportunity to meet and acknowledge that they took time out of their day to do so.
- Next, note why you think you’d be a good fit for the role. No more than 3 reasons. Bullet points are optimal as well. This is an opportunity to elaborate on why you are a great fit, in writing, beyond your initial cover letter and interview.
- In close, hit 3 points: 1.) Express your interest; 2.) Commit to following up with them again within a specified timeframe; and 3.) Thank them, again, for their time and consideration.
Sample ideas of follow-up after the thank you note:
- Begin with a pleasantry, followed by a sentence explaining where you left off during your last communication. “You had indicated to me that you’d be making your final decision during the week of <date >, and I just wanted to follow up to see where you are in that decision.”
- Include something of value in your follow-up instead of being perceived as nagging. Perhaps you just completed some training, closed a big deal, or finished a major project. If you are volunteering or taking outside courses while unemployed, talk about that.
- Close with the next follow-up you will initiate. Don’t ask them to call you back. Instead, let them know that “I’ll follow up again within a few days, but in case you need to reach me, here is the best number: xxx-xxx-xxxx.”
1 Always appear gracious, positive, patient, and interested. Speak in a very respectful manner if you’re leaving a voicemail message, acknowledging that “I know you are very busy, but I wanted to follow up on the email I sent you and that I’m still very interested in the position.”
2 When following up with an email, always attach the prior email you are referring to. If there was an attachment to the prior email, reattach it, as appropriate.
3 Match the communication medium the interviewer has been using, i.e. returning emails with emails, phone calls with phone calls.
Mistake #1: Scathing follow up emails from job seekers who think they’re out of the running.
Mistake #2: Rudeness or impatience. If the hiring manager gave you a specific date or timeframe, give them some room. Hiring processes take time and you don’t want to seem overly anxious.
Mistake #3: One-line emails: “Can you call me back?”
Mistake #4: Group thank you notes—implies a little laziness and is not personal.
Mistake #5: In a personal thank you note, your copy and paste didn’t work so it was addressed “Dear Sally” and at the end it said “Thank you, again, Bob.”
Mistake #6: Misspellings, grammar, punctuation errors. This is another writing sample for the employer!
Mistake #7: Gimmicks. Do not send flowers, a gift, nothing.
Mistake #8: Do not have a friend “swing by” the hiring manager’s office and ask, “How is Bob doing for your position hiring. Isn’t he great?”
Excuse #1: “I knocked the interview out of the park, so no need to send anything since I’ll get the job.” Well, aside from being too confident (cocky), which could have hurt you in the interview, there is no excuse for not being polite. And what if you were good in the interview, but not great, and the next candidate did send a compelling note?
Excuse #2: “I don’t have their email address.” Lesson learned. Ask for all email addresses while you are interviewing. However, if you forgot, the recruiter, HR manager, or anybody who might be able to give it to you. Simply say, “I would like to send them a thank you note,” so your intention is clear.
Excuse #3: “Thank you notes seem so phony. I’m not the thank you note type.” First, they should be sincere. Sheer appreciation for their time and for considering you as a candidate should be reason enough to take 5 minutes to review your notes from that meeting and craft a thank you note. Second, if you are not the “thank you note type,” then learn to be one now!
Excuse #4: “They told me I will not be the final choice for the position, so no need to thank them.” Wrong. You want to add your interviewers to your network and you may want to them again. In addition, what if that company has another position that opens up? Take the high road and always, always send a thank you note and stay in touch after that. In your thank you note, you may say, “If another position opens up within your organization, I am interested in being considered.”
#1: Write a template thank you note and follow-up note based on the above guidance and by collecting many samples available online. Save them in your well-organized file for this job search effort (see Chapter 5).
#2: Review your samples with at least one person and get their feedback.
#3: In your Cut the Crap (CTC) Job Tracker from Chapter 5, be sure you note every time you need to send a thank you note and place that reminder in your Outlook Calendar or other calendar technology.