The Right Way to Follow up with a Potential Employer


Dont Forget to Follow UpIn a job search, following up with a potential employer can be one of the greatest challenges.

Most jobseekers anguish over the timing and the frequency of checking in with recruiters, human resource professionals, and managers. Unfortunately, many job seekers resort to leaving numerous phone messages and sending multiple emails.

The result: their attempt to show diligence paints them in the corner as a pest.

Here are some guidelines and tips to help you respond appropriately and with less mental traffic!

When Working Directly with a Decision Maker

When you applied to a position and received an email response with a name:

  • Unless requested otherwise, immediately respond with a short note that acknowledges the email.
  • Connect with that person on LinkedIn if possible.
  • After one week or 10 days, simply call or email and ask if an update is available. The email should have not more than two lines.

When you have a phone or face-to-face conversation with a hiring professional:

  • EVERY time it is a critical success measure to ask about appropriate follow up. Exceptions to this rule are rare. When you connect, simply ask something like, “As I’ve learned more about this position, I’m even more interested in it. What are the next steps?”
  • You need the following information:
    • When is it helpful for them for you to follow up?
    • What is their preferred means? Email? Voicemail?
  • Your message should be easy, light and positive.
  • ALWAYS wait two extra days before making contact with them.

After an Interview

For after a job or internship interview, here are 11 guidelines for following up:

  • Reaching out is a good thing – as long as your demeanor and tone communicates a spirit of helpfulness and simple honest inquiry. I remind my clients all the time, “Keep it light, easy, and short.”
  • Avoid being an annoyance.
  • Avoid exuberant, demonstrative pleas.
  • Maintain a warm, conservative, professional demeanor.
  • Keep all inquires easy and non-confrontational.
  • Manage your emotions.
  • Avoid any indication that they “owe” you some kind of update.
  • Avoid ANY expressions of negative emotions: frustration, anger, etc.
  • Call or email approximately once a week, or every two weeks – use good judgment.
  • Refrain from calling your contact at the company to ask for updates on the position unless they requested that you do so or the timeline for the next step in the process has lapsed by two business days.
  • I routinely encourage my clients NOT to make ANY assumptions and to remain optimistic and allow an additional week from the projected timeline if they haven’t been contacted. (Yes, an additional week!)

When NOT to Follow Up

Especially when a hiring professional promises to get back to you and they don’t, it can be extremely frustrating. It’s also tempting to call them and remind them that promised to get back to you. This can quickly get you eliminated from consideration.

When a hiring professional makes a promise to respond within a certain timeframe, they are giving the candidate their best guess and sincere hope for the timetable for the process. I always tell my clients to wait another week.

Reasons for the delay might include:

  • The remaining candidate interviews were delayed.
  • A key approver became ill or was called to manage a business predicament.
  • A critical skill set has been identified that was left off the job posting.
  • After considering the candidate pool and reconsidering their situation, the company has decided to go in a different direction.
  • An unexpected hiring freeze halted the process—temporarily or indefinitely.
  • A merger or acquisition opportunity is being considered.

Critical Points to Remember

Somehow, email and phone messages capture our frame of mind and emotional tone. Therefore, if you are feeling frustrated, impatient or are in a negative frame of mind—do not reach out! This is NOT the time to connect.

Avoid any verbiage that accuses your contact, such as, “You told me your would get back to me and I haven’t heard from you. That was Tuesday and now it’s Thursday.” Even with the most upbeat tone of voice, this kind of message may get your candidacy dismissed.

Following up with a potential employer doesn’t have to be stressful. Follow these guidelines carefully, and follow up the right way1


For this post, YouTern would like to thank our friends at ForwardMotionCareers.


Forward Motion


Marcia LareauAbout the Author: Dr. Marcia LaReau has served in the business world for over ten years, including Fortune 100 companies. As a Curriculum Designer and Learning Technologist, she lead training initiatives for projects spanning 44,000 employees on four continents. As an HR Director, her use of unique, effective communication skills focused on learning processes to increase effectiveness and employee efficiency thereby reducing training budgets and maximizing training ROI.  



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