March 6, 2014
Effective follow-up tips: Beyond the thank-you notes and phone calls.
So, you blazed through the interview with flying colors. You exited graciously, offering firm handshakes, and heartfelt thanks all around, leaving the hiring manager visibly impressed. After the interview, you promptly followed-up with a handwritten note expressing gratitude for the hiring manager's time and consideration. Four days later, you called for a status update, leaving a politely-worded message with the receptionist. A few weeks have passed and you still haven't heard any news. Now what?
In order to make the choice that will most benefit your career, you need to know what all of your options are. A delayed status update from even one potential employer can put a serious crimp in even the most well-planned job search.
The good news is that there are a number of ways you can speed the process along. If you find yourself still without a definitive answer weeks after your last contact with the hiring manager, take a look at these strategies for parlaying a long-past interview into a job offer and implement the ones best suited to your situation.
1. Look at the follow-up as the final stage of your job search.
All too often, job hunters assume that an interview represents the end of their quest. However, job search experts recommend an expanded model of the process, in which the follow-up process is the concluding phase of the job search.
You need to plan for this transitional period just as diligent as you would for the processes of applying and interviewing. Have a supply of high-quality stationery on hand for thank-you notes, obtain a dedicated address book to collate all contact information, and keep a detailed follow-up log that records the who, what, and when of each post-interview communication.
2. Determine the proper tone, and stick with it.
One of the most challenging aspects of the follow-up process is striking the right balance between determined and pushy, enthusiastic and overzealous, interested and desperate. Believe it or not, a lot depends on the type of position you're seeking and the organization you're interviewing with.
If the spot you want to fill is in a young company with a relaxed environment, you can take a more forward approach to follow-up. On the other hand, if you're applying for a position with an older, traditional company, it may be better to adopt a more formal, reserved tone in your follow-up efforts.
3. Keep the lines of communication open, but always follow their lead.
It can be tempting to try to catch the attention of the hiring manager by any means necessary, particularly in the often-frustrating post-interview phase of the process. Experts recommend that applicants demonstrate continued interest in the position with repeated contacts after the interview, so after the initial thank-you note, telephone calls spaced four to five days apart are often the best approach.
You may feel compelled to look up the hiring manager's email address and bombard him or her with heartfelt missives about your suitability for the position, but it's best to limit your contacts to the communication method that the manager has initiated or suggested.
For example, if you haven't been contacted via email or weren't given an email address, resist the temptation to look it up. If they contacted you by phone, stick to the phone as your preferred communications channel. This will demonstrate your professionalism and restraint, as well as your ability to act in accordance with the example set by your superiors.
4. Gently force closure, but don't issue an ultimatum.
If more than three weeks have elapsed since the interview with no word of a decision, it may be time to exert a bit more forceful influence to get the process rolling. In a phone call, voicemail, or letter, reassert your continued interest in the position, but also mention a compelling reason why you need to hear about the outcome of the interview sooner rather than later. It's best to base it around your actual circumstances to convey a genuine sense of urgency.
5. Know when no word probably means "no."
If this last-ditch effort doesn't prompt a response, it's unlikely that you're ever going to hear anything positive about the position. Next time around, try to remember to set the stage for a more efficient follow-up process by setting the terms for post-interview contact at the end of the interview itself.
Job hunting expert Penelope Trunk suggests asking for a rough timeframe for the final decision as you're saying your goodbyes. Just one carefully-worded question could save you weeks of anxiety and sleepless nights!
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