How should I follow up job applications?

Mon, 17/09/2012 - 14:02 -- nick

You found a job you’re interested in online. Excited, you send off your CV along with a cover letter explaining why you would be perfect for the job and sit back and wait for their response. And wait. And wait. And three weeks later you're still waiting. Your early enthusiasm has disappeared and you've concluded your CV has fallen into a recruitment black hole.

So what’s your next course of action? Do you just accept the fact they weren’t interested in what you had to offer or do you take a pro-active approach and get in touch to find out what’s happened to your application?

To prevent this situation happening in the first place, there are a few things you should do:

Make contact before sending your CV
If there are contact details in the job advert then try to get in touch (by phone, not email) with the hiring manager, or at least someone who has a hand in the recruitment process. The best thing to do is to ask an intelligent question regarding a certain aspect of the role, rather than trying to sell yourself over the phone.

If the role is going through a recruitment agency, you will probably have more of an opportunity to find out about the role. They will also be able to tell you of any similar roles you would be suitable for.

Keep the focus on them and always maintain an enthusiasm about the role. This tactic allows you to say “Further to our earlier conversation…” within your cover letter so they are more likely to remember your application above an anonymous candidate..

Follow up on all CVs you send
Regardless of whether you’re made contact before applying, you should always look to call the employer (or recruitment agency) within three to five business days.

When you call, clearly state your name and the position you’re applying for as it’s likely they will have a pile of applications to get through for potentially many roles. Don’t be put off if they haven’t read your details yet – all this call is for is to put a flag by your name in their mind for when they’re picking out the candidates for interview.

Again, show your enthusiasm for the position and let them know you’re looking forward to hearing more about the opportunity.

If at first you don’t succeed…
Every company has its own procedure for hiring and whilst it may take a few days to select the candidates to interview in some organisations, it can take months in others (especially during the main holiday season). That’s no consolation to you as a candidate, but you must consider the fact that being overly persistent won’t help your case. Take notice of any application deadlines and wait until at least that date before making your second contact.

However, strategically placed phone calls phone calls with a genuine reason for calling are justified. You could call them to let them know you’re going on holiday so won’t be contactable for a few days, or that you’ve had to change your email address so you need to provide them with your new one. Keep a log of when you call and who you speak to so you can keep track of your progress.

It’s often just not feasible for employers to let every candidate who applied know that they have been unsuccessful, so be prepared to give up if you’re not getting anywhere. If you receive contact from them, be sure to follow up thanking them for considering your application and expressing your wish to be considered for any similar vacancies that come up in future.