Thursday, March 11, 2010 myBiz Blog
Ask the Expert: The Art of Follow-Up by Kelly Cuene

Regardless of whether your job search is going fabulously or horrendously you will inevitably have to follow up with potential employers. Have no fear – we don’t bite. But recruiters do have multiple priorities that job seekers tend not to recognize. So…

Introduce yourself: I’m a big proponent of email (you’re not likely to catch me at my desk if you call), but a big faux pas is when candidates only use the signature “Mike”. Ummm… do you realize there are 100 Mike’s in our process right now? And your chickmagnet@hotmail email isn’t helping me identify you in the slightest (in addition to being generally unprofessional). Be sure to sign your full name, and include other identifying information if relevant: date of your last interview, who you met with, etc.

Be clear and concise: Recruiters tend to stop reading if an email is more than a few sentences. State your purpose and your question. Done. I’m not offended if it’s not flowery.

Give us some time: If a company told you it could be 1-2 weeks before you receive a decision from them, be sure to give them the full 2 weeks. It’s a range for a reason – stuff comes up. I know you’re anxious and impatient and your parents are breathing down your neck to find a job, but take a deep breath. If we have clearly exceeded the timeline we gave you, don’t be shy. Which leads me to…

You’re worth it: I’ll be honest – some candidates fall through the cracks. And we feel really badly when that happens… but we won’t know that we lost your materials unless you follow up with us. Don’t assume that no news is bad news.

Not all employers will respond to all candidates (though it’s certainly nice when they do, right?). But in order for you to be sure that the lack of correspondence is really a “we’re pursuing other candidates” versus “whoops – your resume got stuck in the wrong bin” you need to buck up and follow up. If a company is still ignoring you – well, there’s your answer. But a company who is interested in you will respond with some type of update. The answer might still be “no”, but you won’t know until you ask.


Michelle is an experienced human resources professional and a UW-Madison alum. In her "Ask an Expert" articles she tackles students' toughest career and recruiting questions, providing an employer's perspective so students can learn what campus recruiters REALLY think. To learn more about Michelle, view her intro post.