Friday, January 29, 2010

Mastering the Follow Up (or, How to Move Your Name to the Top of the List)

by Laurel Mylonas-Orwig

Imagine this situation: you’ve just walked out of a final round interview for a job you really want. The interview was tough, but you feel like you did well. The first thing you should do is:
  • A. Call your mother/best friend/significant other to debrief.

  • B. Head to the nearest bar to de-stress.

  • C. Get a head start on spending that first paycheck (stress relief massages are a business expense, right?)

  • D. Pull out your laptop to send a follow up email.

The correct answer, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, is D. This is somewhat of an overstatement—you don’t need to send a follow up email the minute you walk out of the interview—and in fact, some employers have mentioned that it’s a turn off to get an email that was clearly sent from a Blackberry or iPhone. However, you do need to send it the same day. For most people, once the interview is over, the first instinct is to breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, now comes the really tough part: waiting for the employer to make the next move. By following up after your interview, however, you can increase your profile with the employer and heighten your chances of getting that call.

When following up, there are three key factors to consider:

  1. Timing: It’s best to send a short note the same day as your interview that thanks the interviewer for his/her time and touches on one specific point discussed in the interview. For example, you could say, “I really enjoyed learning about your methods for measuring success, and am very interested in assisting your team in meeting your goals for the year.” You can follow with a longer, more substantial follow up a couple of days later, after you’ve had time to reflect on what you learned in the interview. Try to avoid following up at the end of the week, when most people are slipping out of “work mode.” By reaching out earlier in the week, you’re more likely to be remembered. Finally, if the date that the employer said he/she would get back to you has passed, you can send a polite inquiry about your status while also restating your interest. Remember that hiring timelines can easily get pushed back due to several factors, so be patient.

  2. Method: There is no consensus yet about the proper format for following up with an employer initially. If you are pressed for time the day of your interview, a short thank-you email is fine; the next day, you can send out a handwritten note with a little more substance. When deciding how to follow up, consider the company culture—the more formal the organization, the more formal your follow up should be. And regardless of how you choose to communicate, remember that proper grammar and correct spelling are essential!

  3. Content: In a follow-up letter, three things should be absolutely clear to the recruiter: that you’re confident about your ability to do the job, that you paid attention to what was said, and that you’re excited about the opportunity. Your follow up doesn’t have to be long—in fact, try to keep it to two or three paragraphs. Make sure to thank the interviewer for his/her time, and if possible, refer back to or elaborate on something that was talked about the interview. Finally, reinforce your interest in the position, and be specific about why you want this job, as opposed to another one.
  4. Additional follow up tips: For the adept job seeker (or for that position that you really want), three additional tips:

    • If there was a question asked in your interview that you don’t think you answered fully, don’t hesitate to send a follow up fleshing out your response. True story: an employer provided us with feedback regarding the follow-up a particular candidate sent after the interview. The applicant sent a thoughtful email, reminding the employer of a tough question asked during the interview, and providing a possible solution to the dilemma that the employer was facing. That wasn’t the only thing that sealed the deal, but the employer did ultimately hire that candidate—and definitely remembered the impact of that follow-up message.

    • Whatever you do, take care not to appear desperate. The employer is not more likely to give you the job because you’re about to be homeless; in fact, talking about this might have the opposite effect. No matter what your situation, be professional, polite and patient to avoid turning the recruiter off.

    • Finally, “Was gr8 2 meet u! Thx so much 4 your time!” is not an acceptable follow up. No texts. Period.

    Do you have any great follow up success stories or tips? Leave a comment below!

1 comment:

Zenchukovskiy said...

I'll try to use your advices. I hope they'll help me to get the top! I'll order my term paper essays and try your advices.