CAREERS
Following up

How to follow up without looking like a stalker

By Julie Wilson

Most of us already know what we should do before a job interview: research the company, anticipate questions, prepare our responses, take our suit to the dry cleaner. But many of us are uncertain about what to do after the big day. With whom should you follow-up? Should correspondences be by telephone, email or mail? When should you reach out, and how often? And when is it time to leave well enough alone? Here’s how to keep your momentum after the interview is over.

The follow-through letter

A written communication after any interview is absolutely essential, according to Eric Kramer, author of Active Interviewing: Branding, Selling, and Presenting Yourself to Win Your Next Job, and president and chief innovation officer of Innovative Career Services. But Kramer doesn’t call it a thank-you note. Instead, he considers this a follow-through letter and believes it’s important to send a customized one to every person who interviews you.

“It’s a continuation of the sales process,” he explains. “You certainly want to thank [your interviewers] for taking the time to meet with you, but then you want to reiterate the things they were happy with about you.”

The follow-through letter should go out the day after the interview and can either be emailed or handwritten. Kramer advises using the follow-through letter as an opportunity to reinforce why you’re such a good match for the job, the assets you bring to the organization, and also to address any concerns about your qualifications.

Checking in

Before the interview is finished, Kramer suggests trying to schedule an appointment to call or email, asking their preference. If you don’t hear from your interviewers within a set period of time, it’s still OK to reach out to them.

“Typically, I would wait about a week and send an email letting [them] know you’re still interested and ask about how the selection process is progressing,” he says. “I wouldn’t send anything more often than once a week.”

When to say when

There are times when it’s just not meant to be, and you don’t hear back from an interviewer despite sending a follow-through letter and checking in. It’s important to know when to cut your losses and move on.

“Three tries and you’re done,” stresses Kramer. Meaning that if you send your follow-through letter, follow-up with a phone message a week later, send another email the next week, and still don’t get a response, it’s time to focus on other job prospects.

CAREERS
Following up

From interviewer
to career contact

Getting the job is usually the best-case scenario, but if you don’t, your interviewer may still be a valuable contact to have in your networking arsenal. “If you don’t get the job, send another letter,” suggests Kramer, this time conveying that you enjoyed meeting your interviewer and requesting that he or she keep you in mind for any future positions. Kramer recommends inviting your interviewer to connect on LinkedIn or other professional networking sites you may use.

After that, look for creative ways to stay in touch with these contacts. This can be as simple as forwarding news articles you think may be of interest to them, reaching out to congratulate them if they win an award or sending a note letting them know you hope to see them at an upcoming conference or professional association meeting, if it’s appropriate.

“Sending those gentle reminders out, which are of value [to them], keeps you in front of them,” says Kramer, because you never know what opportunities the future will bring.★

The ideal follow-through letter

Career expert Eric Kramer believes the following is a perfect example of a powerful follow-through letter. This letter, which is from a client, appears in his book, Active Interviewing: Branding, Selling, and Presenting Yourself to Win Your Next Job.

Dear Bob,

I hope you enjoyed the Yankees game with your family. Kyle Drabek was the main piece in the Phillies’ trade package for Roy Halladay, so I do not mind seeing him get rocked every once in a while, even if it results in a Yankee’s W. 1

Thank you for speaking with me on Friday about the Manager of Partnership Strategy and Service position. I enjoyed our conversation and am looking forward to the possibility of joining the team during this exciting restructuring. I am a big believer in your vision to transform the Partnerships group into an internal agency and would love to be a part of the implementation.

I believe that my past experience shows that I encompass the core values you seek in candidates for this position: 2

  • Committed to improve every day: Selected to participate in a 10-week training program for high potential junior-level talent
  • Exude passion: Identified sports sponsorship as the area of interest for my career and secured positions with key players in the niche field
  • Integrity (do things the right way, even if it’s the hard way): Implemented sponsorship asset tracking process for various ABC Bank Business Units
  • Outwork everyone: Lured recruits from other university fraternities to recruit largest new member class in my fraternity’s history
  • Intensity, effort, productivity: Promoted from Assistant Account Executive to Account Executive after one year at Acme Company (this jump typically takes two years) 3

I will stay in touch with HR regarding the hiring process. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any further questions about my background and experience. 4

Best,
John

1. “I like the combination of formal and informal,” says Kramer. “There should be some connectedness as human beings.”

2. “He listened to the core values that interested the interviewer and sold himself,” says Kramer.

3. According to Kramer, by connecting his career accomplishments to the values, John reinforced his ability to perform the job well.

4. John lays out the next point of contact, an important part of the post-interview process.

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