The recent uptick in hiring activity means that more and more candidates are doing phone screens and personal interviews. While this is great news, it also means that recruiters and hiring managers (whose staffs may have been decimated in the darkest days of the recession) are likely to be under increased pressure and therefore unable to follow up with candidates on a timely basis.
Candidate initiated communication after an interview has always been important. Also, the way you approach follow up after an interview or networking conversation is one additional way you can set yourself apart from the crowd and leave a positive impression.
So, what is the best way to communicate after an interview? How do you follow up effectively without “stalking” the recruiter or hiring manager? Here are some tips that I hope will help.
Immediacy is crucial. Plan on taking the time to follow up with everyone you talk to or interview with throughout your job search process. Be sure to collect business cards from each person you interview with. There is some debate among recruiters as to whether phone, email, or snail mail contact is most preferred. Email is usually best, but it is not out of the question for you to ask at the conclusion of your interview what method of contact the interviewer prefers, as well the expected date of the hiring decision. Bottom line, follow up using the company’s preferred media if you know it, and at minimum, send your follow up communications within 24 hours.
Content is crucial. When crafting your communication, remember thatthe interview process is not about you; it’s about solving problems at the company. During your interviews, be sure to ask about the immediate challenges facing a new hire in the position and the short and long-term success measures. The answers to these types of probing questions will be the focus of your follow up communication. Make notes during or immediately following your interview. When crafting your message, reiterate specifically how you will apply your industry knowledge, background and skills to address the company’s challenges. Including these details will make it very clear that you listened intently. Express your enthusiasm for the job, and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Sarah Stamboulie, a New York career consultant offers some great advice. She says, ”The follow-up letter is almost like a proposal letter. You should tailor it to the company and suggest specific ways you can address the needs you discussed when you met.”
Boundaries are crucial. Patience is a virtue, and this applies to job search as well. I recently read a great article on post-interview follow up by Anthony Balderrama that was about as straightforward and spot-on as you can get. Balderrama writes, “If you’re going to follow up with a letter after your initial follow-up letter, think again. You already said thank you, so what else do you need to say? Both you and the hiring manager know that another letter is your way of asking, ‘Did I get the job?’ Don’t clog the hiring manager’s inbox with more notes unless you want to be thought of as a pest.” Don’t show up unannounced at the employer’s office under any circumstance. Do extend a LinkedIn invitation to connect with the recruiter or hiring manager several days after your thank you letter if you have not done so previously.
While it is true that there are no absolutes in job search, it’s important, just as it is with your personal relationships, to know when its time to let go and move on. What you do immediately after your interview can make a big difference in the outcome of your candidacy, but try not to internalize the rejection you will inevitably experience at some point in this process.
Ideally you’ve identified numerous target companies and positions of interest and are working your network on several of them at any given time. Having the “next thing” to move on to when one avenue doesn’t work out is the best way to avoid becoming obsessive about a particular company or job, and will allow you to be free to consider other opportunities as they present themselves.
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