How to Follow Up on a Job Application

How to Follow Up on Job Applications

You’ve perfected your resume, crafted an awesome cover letter, and submitted your job application. But what happens after you’ve sent in a stellar submission and heard nothing back from the employer?

There’s a protocol to follow when determining if, when, and how you should follow up on job applications. Here are the details to guide you through the process.

Think Before You Click “Send”

The first hurdle in considering whether or not to follow up on a job application is understanding appropriate follow-up timing.

While you may feel discouraged if you don’t hear back quickly after sending in your resume, it’s not a reasonable expectation to receive a call back in the first 24 or 48 hours—or even a week—post-submission. The general rule of thumb is to wait a minimum of two weeks before pinging the hiring manager for a status report on your job application.

In the current market, and especially since the pandemic hit, managers have more on their plates than ever, so reaching out to ask about your application too soon can backfire. The worst-case scenario is that you follow up about your submission too soon and end up making a negative impression with the employer instead of a positive one.

Consider the Mode

Not all forms of follow-up are equal when it comes to inquiring about your job application.

If you’re considering whether to reach out for information via phone, email, text, or social media, the best choice is usually email. This allows you to craft a professional message that states exactly what you want to say and avoids the possibility of losing your train of thought or coming across as disorganized, which are real possibilities on a phone call that could hurt your chances of getting the job.

Email is also the right choice because it allows the hiring team to respond to you at a time that’s convenient for them, rather than being put on the spot by your call. The employer may not have all of the information yet about the hire, so email allows for a gap of time between receipt and response. Also, reaching out through other methods, like texting or a message on social media, might be seen as too personal and thus, unprofessional.

Keep It Short and Succinct

Less is more with a job application follow-up email. Your goal of the message is simply to confirm receipt of your submission and request an update on the projected timing that candidates may hear back. 

The devil is in the details here since a careless error in your writing, such as misspelling the hiring manager’s name or missing a typo, could end up affecting your earlier application negatively.

Once you’ve confirmed the correct contact information for sending your email, remind the hiring team of the date that you submitted your application, briefly reiterate how your specific experience could help the employer, and indicate the best way to reach you.

Be Gracious About the Opportunity

While you may feel annoyed or ignored if you haven’t heard back about your job application yet, be sure that the tone of your follow-up message conveys a tone of gratitude.

Thank the employer for the chance to apply for a position that’s meaningful to you, and express that you appreciate their time in reviewing your qualifications. The last thing you want to do is sound aggravated about having to wait for their response or come across as demanding or pressuring, which may end up moving your application from the “under consideration pile” to the “reject” pile. 

Finally, be sure to check the fine print of the job ad before you decide whether or not to send a follow-up. If the listing specified that applicants shouldn’t reach out after submitting their application, then heed that advice.

Also, be aware that the practice of “ghosting” candidates, which means only responding to applicants who are being offered an interview, is becoming more common in the industry, in part due to high application rates. If your follow-up communication doesn’t produce a response within a month or more, then assume that you probably aren’t moving forward to the next steps in this position.

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