The Do’s & Don’ts Of Following Up On A Job Application

By Francesca Hooper on 18-08-2017

Waiting around to hear back from a dream job is never easy.  We all know how long the hiring process can take and sometimes you may not hear back at all!   If you’ve sent off your application and haven’t received a reply, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not right for the job.  Perhaps the hiring manager hasn't had time to start the process or is still sifting through that massive pile of CVs on his desk.  It can be a good idea to follow-up on your job application.  Even though it can seem super daunting, if done right, it can really pay off.  However, there are a few things you should consider first.  After all, there's nothing worse than coming across as a pest or desperate!

Before Following up

Firstly, check the job listing and any other correspondence you may have had with the hiring manager or employer.  See if you can find any information, especially a date, of when candidates are likely to hear back.  If there is one then wait for it to pass before following up. The rule of thumb suggests waiting a week before doing so.  It’s important to understand how bombarded recruiters are, so you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. Importantly, if the job description or company says they don’t want any following up then definitely don’t!  It could potentially ruin your chances at that dream job. 

Ways to Follow-up 

1) E-mail This seems to be the number one preferred choice.  It’s the quickest way to get in touch with the interviewer and the easiest for you, as you’ve probably e-mailed the company before anyway.  It’s important to use a clear subject line, including the title of the job you’re applying for, and your name.  This will let the employer know who it is straight away.  

Mention that you are writing to check on the status of an application, in a short and succinct way.  You can also use it to reinforce your enthusiasm and qualifications for the position.  This not only demonstrates your interest but also shows initiative.  It could help your CV get a second look-over especially if it was overlooked the first time.   

Make sure that your tone is polite.  Resist the urge to sound angry or upset, no matter how much you want the job!  Showing understanding of how swamped managers can be is a good way to sustain interest and show your consideration.  And remember, edit, edit, edit!  Ensure that your grammar is spot-on and there are zero spelling mistakes.

2) Phone call If you feel that your e-mail may end up in the recruiter’s junk folder, calling can get you directly in touch with the hiring manager.  You can find their contact details through a various sources, including the company’s website’s About Us page or phoning the company’s receptionist. 

By calling up, it shows the employer that you’re determined and passionate about the position.  This could really let you stand out as a great candidate!  Firstly, make sure that you have rehearsed out loud and have an idea about what you’re going to say.  There’s nothing more embarrassing than stumbling over words, it’ll only make you flustered.  So have a few points in front of you to make you feel more at ease.

Ask for the hiring manager, there’s no point following up to a confused employee!  And make sure you’re enthusiastic; this really will let your personality shine through.  Terri A. Deems, a career coach, recommends having some ‘meaty’ questions ready before calling. In particular, questions that someone in the HR won’t be able to answer but only a decision maker can:

i) ‘What kind of experience would your ideal candidate have?’

ii) ‘What would be the biggest challenges I would face in this position?’

iii) ‘What would be happening by the end of the year to tell you that you definitely hired the right person?’ To open the call, make sure you use a friendly, casual tone.  State who you are and follow-up with those questions. 

3. Popping in Following up face-to-face is great way to become known to the recruiter and it shows how seriously you're taking the job search.  First things first, if you are willing to visit your potential employer, ensure that it is not peak times or during holidays!  You want to show the manager that you understand how the business works and that you’re also considerate. 

Dress to impress, just as if you were attending an interview.  Also, be selective and ask for the hiring manager.  If they’re not available then ask when a better time would be to follow-up.  You may be lucky and the recruiter may want to have a chat on the spot, so come equipped with a copy of your CV and any references.   

How NOT to follow-up 

Snail Mail: recruiters agree that this is a turn off - bits of paper cluttering their desk just creates more work for them! 

Finding them on LinkedIn: Although the site is a useful platform for job-seekers, in this case, try to avoid it!  There’s nothing more off-putting for a hiring manager than receiving requests from people they don't know.

Multiple phone calls: Goes without saying.  Desperation is never a good look!  If they haven’t replied your messages then it's time to call it a day.


Francesca Hooper writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice.



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