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Q-Tips: Critical Job-Hunting Tips
Key Follow-Up Advice


These job-search follow-up tips -- following-up strategies after job interviews, expressing enthusiasm for jobs, and more -- have been gathered from numerous sources throughout Quintessential Careers and organized here for your convenience.


Responding to a reader who received a rejection letter after an interview but then saw the same job advertised again, Dale Dauten and Kate Wendleton suggested in the syndicated career column that the reader again contact the employer. The jobseeker, Dauten notes, could say something like this: "I saw your ad, and I still think I could make a contribution in that position. I guess I failed to make that clear when we spoke before. I'd like to start over and apply again." Wendleton adds that if the response is positive, you should ask probing questions to get at exactly what type of person the company wants to hire. That way you can plan an approach to a second-chance interview that targets what the employer wants.



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Taking the time to follow up and thank interviewers for their time and consideration is important. Writing thank-you notes is such an easy thing to do, and yet so few job-seekers actually do it. The delivery method you choose for thank-you letters is not as important as the action itself. The method totally depends on how you've been communicating with the employer before the interview and your sense of the corporate culture at the interview; however, we favor email or regular mail over faxing. Obviously, if you have been emailing the company before the interview, then you can send your thank-you letter via email. But even if you did not communicate via email before the interview, you can also send the thank you via email if you get the sense at the interview that email is an important communications tool at the company (and your interviewer provides you with her email address).


Be sure to also take the next step after emailing the thank-you note -- following up with a phone call or another email to see where the employer is in the hiring process. To get a better sense of this issue (and some more detailed advice) check out our article, The Art of the Follow-Up After Job Interviews.



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One of the biggest mistake job-seekers make is that they are often afraid to express enthusiasm for a job; they do not want to appear too eager, observes college career counselor Ellen Bourhis Nolan. In the Q&A interview Nolan did with Quintessential Careers, Nolan said: "I say show as much enthusiasm as you feel for a job. If it is just what you want to do, let the employer know it. If you think it is a wonderful company, let them know. If interviewers see that you are enthused, they will be more inclined to believe you are a good fit for the job at hand and the company as a whole. Follow up the interview with a thank-you and again reiterate your interest in the company. I'm not saying you want to appear overeager, but simply not be reluctant to let the interviewer know that you would like the job."



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After a promising second interview, should you send a second thank-you letter? It's often the little things that gives one job-seeker an edge over the others. And following proper etiquette is certainly one of those little things. If you had been invited to spend a weekend at someone's house a second time, you would send a thank-you note, right? So, yes, by all means send a thank-you note. You should always send thank-you notes after every interview -- to each person who interviewed you. The thank-you note after the first round of interviews is likely to be on the formal side, such as the examples found at Sample Dynamic Cover Letters. A handwritten note of thanks for second interviews is a nicely personal gesture. You could even bring the note paper and envelope with you to the interview so that once your interview is complete, you can find a quiet place and write a quick note of thanks and drop it in the mail.


The content of the note should be short and simple. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and reinforce your rapport and fit; restate your unique selling proposition; and close with a proactive statement about getting to the next step in the process. You can find other great information in our article, FAQs About Thank You Letters.



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Many disappointed job-seekers have been heard to say, "but the interviewer said I was perfect for the job." If the interviewer indicated you had a great interview, but you don't hear anything, ask yourself some questions. First, did you follow standard rules of job-interviewing etiquette and write thank-you notes (or letters) to each person who interviewed you? Second, did you ever call the employer back and express your interest in the position?


You may also want to read two articles. First, FAQs About Thank You Letters, which includes all the reasons you should write thank-you notes -- and provides sample letters. Second, The Art of the Follow-Up After Job Interviews, which discusses what job-seekers should do after job interviews.


The problem could be with your interview style, your references, or something else. Call one of the people you interviewed with -- the one you felt you had the most rapport with -- and politely ask the person to critique your performance. Once you have broken the ice, you should ask in a non-confrontational manner why you didn't get the job offer.



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Sending out lots of resumes and not hearing anything back? You may have fallen into the classic mistake of many job-seekers: not being proactive. It is a rare situation where the employer will contact you. Instead, put on your best speaking voice and call all the people you sent resumes to and suggest setting up an interview. For many job-seekers, this aspect of job-hunting is the hardest part. Perhaps we feel as though we are like the telemarketers who always call our homes -- and in a way, we are. We are calling with the intent selling ourselves over the phone to get an interview. Making these telephone calls is not magical. While you will succeed in scheduling some interviews, keep in mind that the rejection rate will still be high -- depending on your field and the demand for the type of job you seek.


Here's another tip: If the employer you call says that the firm has no current openings, you should still push for an interview, but instead of a job interview, ask for an informational interview to learn more about the field or company. Quintessential Careers has a tutorial on informational interviewing. Informational interviewing may not land you a job, but it is a way of building your network -- especially when you have just moved to a new area -- and a way to possibly obtain referrals to other job openings in your field.



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Don't write off an employer just because you get rejected for a job. That's the advice of Kate Wendleton, founder of The Five O'Clock Club, a career organization. Writing in the advice column she co-authors with Dale Dauten, Wendleton tells the story of a candidate she didn't hire for an accounting job. The candidate who was rejected wrote Wendleton a note telling her how much he still wanted to work for her company. A few months later, he wrote again, reiterating his desire to work for her. About seven months hence, Wendleton needed to hire another person. The rejected candidate who kept in touch was at the top of her list; she didn't even interview any new candidates. Just shows the power of keeping your name and desire to work for a company in the forefront of the employer's mind.



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Those follow-up phone calls after you send out your resume and cover letter can be so important. A sales director we know at a high-tech company tells us he has about 300 resume on his desk at any given time. When he receives a follow-up call from an applicant, the first thing he does is look for the caller's resume AND that resume gets moved up to the top of the stack. The follow-up caller has demonstrated persistence, interest in the company, and the savvy to position himself orherself well to be be interviewed.



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What if your resume is working well to get you interviews, but you never seem to get a job offer? Ask yourself these questions: Did I write thank you letters after each interview? Did I follow up with the employer rather than waiting to hear back? Was I as proactive as I could be? Contact one of the employers that did not offer you the job and ask if they would be willing to discuss why you did not get an offer. Most probably won't tell you, but perhaps you'll get lucky, and one will be honest with you.



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If you've interviewed with an employer but haven't heard anything by the time you expected to, follow up. Don't start calling every day, but get on that phone and show your interest in the job, using the chance to make a statement that you are the best qualified for the position. The squeaky wheel theory -- as long as you don't get annoying or abusive -- really works. Calling and showing interest in the position demonstrates your commitment to wanting the job.


Follow-up is extremely important in job-hunting, and job-seekers must take initiative! And before you even think about making follow-up calls, be sure you've sent a thank-you letter or note following the interview. You cannot wait for the prospective employer to call you back; be proactive and aggressively pursue the job by calling the person who interviewed you and asking them about the status of the job search and what you should expect next. If you wait for the potential employer to call you back, you will likely miss out on some great job offers.



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Writing a thank-you note or letter is such a small gesture -- and such an easy task -- and yet many job-seekers don't do it. Doing so will help differentiate yourself from others, and that small gesture might be just enough to give you the edge to get the job offer. You should send a thank-you to every person you interview with -- make sure you get the proper spelling of their names and their titles. The content can be quite simple -- from thanking the person for taking the time to interview you -- to quite a bit longer -- if you want to reinforce or highlight positive aspects of the interview. Read our article, FAQs About Thank You Letters. Besides some great advice, the article also includes links to some great sample thank you letters.



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Is your job search limited to sending out resumes? If that's all you're doing, and you're not getting results, ask yourself these questions: Are you calling those companies where you sent your resumes and asking for an interview? You cannot wait by the phone expecting these employers to call you -- you need to be proactive and call them! Are you taking advantage of your network of friends, colleagues, and family by trying to get job leads from them? Are you using the career services office of your college/alma mater? The alumni network of your college? Are you looking online for jobs?



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One of the first -- and most important -- lessons of job-hunting, regardless of whether online or offline, is that employers do not respond to all job-seekers. Employers are inundated with letters and emails about job openings -- even more so when they have a published job opening, and most firms simply do not have the resources to respond to every single applicant. Thus, don't expect to hear back from many of the employers you contact. The second lesson -- and just about as important -- is that you need to be proactive with your job search. Very few people have gotten a job by sitting back and waiting to hear from employers.


Employers will not hunt you down just because you emailed them a job application. The old adage, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, is true -- up to a point -- in job-hunting. Once you've submitted an application or mailed a cover letter and resume, you MUST plan to contact each employer and ask for the job interview. But one caveat: Do NOT contact the employer so often that you become a nuisance; you will not get the interview by being annoying.



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Sending out dozens -- or even hundreds -- of resumes and getting no replies? First, be sure you have sent out cover letters with your resumes and have followed appropriate cover-letter techniques: writing to a named individual, requesting an interview, and promising action. Now, list all your recipients in a spreadsheet and start contacting them right away. Never expect employers to respond to your inquiries; as you may have discovered, very few do so. Follow up your resume/cover letter after about a week to 10 days later with a phone call.


Read more about cover letters and job-hunting at Quintessential Careers: Cover Letter Resources, which includes a link to our Cover Letter Tutorial.



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If you've had an interview, sent a thank-you letter, but not heard anything by the time you were told you would hear, call the decision-maker immediately. Tell this hiring manager that you are following-up on the position and would like to know where things stand.


The old saying about the squeaky wheel is true here; be persistent about calling and getting the status, but don't call every day and make a pest of yourself. At best, you'll get an answer; maybe there is a temporary hiring freeze. At worst, you'll get strung along some more, but at least you are showing your interest in the position and the company.


Read Job Interview Follow-Up Do's and Don'ts for more tips and advice.



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