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How to follow up on a job application

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

So you’ve taken the leap. You’ve updated your credentials, polished up your work experience, sprinkled in a few new keywords – and submitted that job application. A week goes by without a word from the company, and you’re starting to ponder on your chances. Were you not as qualified as you thought? Did your cover letter leave the wrong impression? Did they even see your resume at all? 

The waiting game post-application can be an unnecessarily stressful experience. But rather than stewing in resume limbo, it may be worth following up with your potential employer. In fact, in most cases, it’s a recommended practice.

We break down the importance of job application follow-ups below, and the steps you can take to successfully do so. 

What is a job application follow up? 

A job application follow-up is the process of checking in with an employer you’ve recently applied to, re-asserting your interest in the position and why you believe you’re the perfect fit. This is typically done a couple of weeks after sending in your resume (giving the hiring manager adequate time to look through their available applications), and when done right – can be an effective way of standing out among their candidates.

Why is it important to follow up after a job application? 

Following up after a job application can help keep you top of mind with your potential employer – pushing them to give your resume closer attention. It also demonstrates your genuine interest and passion for the role, and grants you the opportunity of reiterating your top skills and qualifications.

Additionally, a response can offer you that peace of mind that your resume has been seen and considered; rather than having disappeared into the ether. On top of that, it can help you stand out among the others who have likely “mass-applied” a templated application to multiple other companies. 

How to follow up after applying for a job

  1. Know your timing.
  2. Leverage your connections, if any.
  3. Get in touch with the hiring manager.
  4. Be as brief as possible (with the right details).
  5. Know when to use the phone or email. 

1. Know your timing.

Before following up on your resume, it’s important to give the hiring manager time to properly sift through their candidates. Companies will typically state an “application window” in their job posting, indicating a due date for potential applicants. Out of courtesy, avoid following up before this deadline; doing so may end up hampering your overall chances at landing the job.

As a rule of thumb, applicants are recommended to wait at least a week before following up on their resume. A study by Robert Half indicates that “one to less than two weeks” (43%) is the optimum time to wait before following up, followed by “two to less than three weeks” (30%). If you haven’t heard back in over three weeks, then it’s definitely worth checking in. 

Exciting as the opportunity may be, patience can help keep you from seeming desperate. While you wait, try and use your time to explore other available roles on the market. 

2. Leverage your connections, if any.

online networking concept

It never hurts to tap into your personal contacts when job-seeking. As you follow up, consider any connections you may have at the company you’re applying for. Whether a former colleague, relative, or friend; get in touch to see how they can help you get your foot in the door. 

Be sure to explain the position you’re after, your qualifications, and the skills and experience you can bring to the table. They may even be able to provide insider details on this role, and (depending on your relationship) might even put in a good word for you.   

Of course, it’s also important to offer your assistance (when necessary) in turn. Not only is it courteous, but they may end up more willing to help you as a result.   

3. Get in touch with the hiring manager.

If you don’t have existing connections in the company, or would rather follow up yourself, then it’s worth getting in touch with the hiring manager outright. Though some applicants end up checking in with their recruiter or the company’s human resources department, doing so can often be ineffective, as hiring managers will typically have the last say in picking the right candidate. It’s therefore better to make a good impression with them directly. 

Some job listings may have their contact information included, though you can otherwise visit the company’s website for phone number or e-mail address. If their details aren’t available either way, simply call the company’s main desk (or their HR department) to request their information.  

4. Be as brief as possible (with the right details). 

laptop with plants

So, you’ve gotten the hiring manager’s details, and are ready to grab their attention. 

When following up, it’s important to be as clear and concise as possible. Briefly reinstate your interest in the position and summarise the qualities that make you a perfect fit. Be sure to focus on any qualifications, certifications, and previous work experience you may have. To wrap it up, don’t forget to thank them for their time and consideration, and provide any contact information they may need to easily get in touch with you when necessary. 

Though the process may be nerve-wracking for some, it’s important to come across as calm and confident as possible (particularly when following up through a phone call). If you’d like, you could even add a sense of urgency to your follow-up; if you’re currently interviewing for other, similar jobs or already have a job offer in hand, it doesn’t hurt to let them know. When done right, this can emphasise your interest in the position and can encourage them to get back to you as soon as possible.  

5. Know when to use the phone or email.

Finally, it’s important to use the right means of communication. While either phone or e-mail are acceptable, some applicants may feel more comfortable with one medium over the other. On the flipside, some job listings may provide a preferred mode of communication for follow-ups – or in some cases, may request for none at all. In these situations, it’s important to respect the hiring manager’s wishes and play by their rules. 

Generally, following up on either phone or e-mail both have their advantages. E-mails grant you the flexibility of perfecting your message before sending it out, and allows hiring managers to track your conversation when need be. It also gives them the convenience of responding when it best fits their schedule.

A phone call, on the other hand, can help you stand out among the hundreds of emails a hiring manager gets each day. You may need to schedule a convenient time to speak with them, but it grants you an immediate response – and may even leave them with a stronger impression of you as a candidate.

Upskilled offers online courses from Australia’s most in-demand industries – from IT to community services – helping arm you with the practical, “work-ready” skills required to stand out in the job market. Score that job interview with a well-deserved skills boost – and enquire with us on a course today.
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