You’ve applied for the job; you’ve had an interview; or you’ve just reached out to a new networking connection at your favorite company. Now it’s a waiting game, right? Wrong. Done right, good follow-up can get your resume a second look in searches, bring in more job leads, or even land you the job.
To follow up without being annoying, always emphasize your interest in the company, be appreciative of others’ time, stay patient, ask for honest feedback where possible, and ask the contact when and how you should follow up. Here are some guidelines for each phase of your search:
Networking Follow-up: If you reach out to a contact to ask for an informational interview, set your calendar to send a reminder after three days, then ten days after your initial outreach. If a contact doesn’t reply by then, try a different person at your target company. After an informational interview, send a thank-you note, then follow up every other month with relevant articles, updates, and other useful communication to keep you top of mind.
Application Follow-up: If the job posting lists a contact person, they are fair game for a follow-up call, a few days after the application. If no contact is listed, it is often fairly easy to find an appropriate contact person using LinkedIn, a Google search, or a company directory. When you get a contact on the phone, show enthusiasm and interest, and, if they have a minute to speak, ask one or two pithy questions like “How did the position become available?” or “What is the most important quality you’re seeking in a new hire?” Ask when they might be taking next steps, and whom you should contact to follow up. Mark your calendar to follow up then; or if they are vague, set your calendar to reach out after 14 and 28 days. After two months, you can probably cross the job off your list.
Interview Follow-up: Send a customized thank-you note immediately after your interview to each person who interviewed you. During the interview, ask when you should expect to hear about next steps. Then mark your calendar for three days after the date they mentioned—searches always take longer than people think.
After Rejection: Most people just move on, or even sulk after a rejection. But if you are one of the very few people who reach out to employers who rejected you to thank them for their time and to ask how you might improve for future interviews, you will stand out as a class act. Knowing that a good percentage of new hires won’t work out in their first 90 days, you might even get a call back about the same position or others in the company. Some employers can’t give you real feedback, but if you’re lucky, you could even learn how to improve your next interview.
Appreciative, polite, and organized follow-up can lift your resume to the top of the pile. Set yourself apart—make the call!
This article originally appeared in Wiley Job Network