So you submitted an application and resume to your dream job. That's great, but now what? Well, you can sit back, cross your fingers, and hope for the best, or you can take some initiative and really go after that job. Throwing your name in the hat is one thing. Following up on that application is another, and may very well be what you need to get hired.
Decide How to Follow Up
In past times, the methods of following up on a job application were limited to phone and in-person encounters. Times have changed so now you have options like email and social media to consider. So what's the best course of action? That will largely depend on how you submitted your application. For instance, if you submitted online, email or a web form may be your best bet. On the other hand, if you handed your info to someone at the front desk, in-person is probably the best way to follow up. Before you make any moves, be sure to gather all the info you can to determine what the employer prefers.
The sooner you check into the status of your application, the better your chances of getting not one, but both feet in the door. A prompt follow-up shows the employer that you are truly interested in the position. It also demonstrates responsiveness that could be a valuable asset to the company. For example, if you're applying for a customer service role, acting timely could show the hiring manager that you would be just as responsive when it comes to responding to customer inquiries.
If you're going to follow up, try to do so within a week or two of submitting your application. The longer you wait, the greater the risk of your application getting lost in that mounting pile of paperwork. By the time a third week rolls around, the decision makers at your dream job may have forgotten all about you.
Don't Be a Pest
There is a right and wrong way to do just about everything, and following up on a job application is no exception. One of the worst things you can do along this mission is overwhelm the employer with voicemail or email messages demanding information about your application. This is not a good look and the person you're harassing surely will not appreciate it. In fact, being a bugaboo is the easiest way to fall out of contention for that dream job you lust.
While many employers openly welcome it, some companies have a no follow-up policy. No matter how bad you want the job, any such polices should be honored --- no exceptions. Throwing caution to the wind like this will likely cause you to miss out on this position and future opportunities with the company as well.
Learn the Virtue of Patience
While you want to follow up in a timely manner, you also want to allow some time for the application process to run its course. A week to two weeks is an ideal time frame because it usually takes most employers at least a week to get organized. You have to keep in mind that companies could easily receive dozens to hundreds of responses depending on who they are and the position they're looking to fill. So while you don't want to let too much time elapse, you do want to give the hiring manager a big enough window to do their job.
Sometimes, your follow up efforts will lead to dead ends. Other times, you'll actually get to present your pitch to someone who matters so make sure you're ready. Good preparation means you're not only ready to tackle whatever questions come your way, but are ready to present a few of your own. It wouldn't hurt to ask what the company is looking for in their ideal candidate, for example. Questions like this will magnify your perceived interest and more importantly, help you stand out from the muted competitors with little to nothing to say.
Know When to Fold
The job seeking market is guaranteed to be competitive no matter what you're applying for. Following up is highly recommended as a way to gain a much needed edge on your competition. With that said, it's important to know when to pull the plug on your follow up initiatives and focus on something else. The last thing you want to do is devote so much attention to this process that you overlook other opportunities. If you contact the employer three or more times after submitting your info and still haven't heard back, it's probably best to move on to something else.
In a perfect world, you submit an application to the job of your dreams, receive a call almost immediately, and then find out that you're the chosen one. But if you're in a position where you're looking for work, you already know that such a world does not exist. And while you don't necessarily control your own fate, you can improve the efficiency of your job seeking efforts by being proactive. So what are you waiting on? Hopefully it's not a knock at the door, because opportunity is something you have to go after!
Aidan Hijleh is an SEO specialist and marketing expert with Benchmark Email. An accomplished writer and former nonprofit organization liaison, he works with numerous top-tier blogs to deliver valuable intel to the small business owner. Some of the major blogs he has contributed to includes Search Engine Journal, Grassroots.org, and DIY Marketers.