Following up after submitting a job application can make anyone feel like a stalker. Along with your initial app, it’s part of your crucial first impression, but how much is too much?
The answer, as usual, is: It depends.
In a tight job market, more and more of us are submitting applications to companies and hiring managers with which we do not have a direct connection. Applying after networking with peers and friends can make the follow-up process slightly less nerve-wracking, no doubt, but let’s approach this as if we don’t have that inside connection to give us signals on how to proceed after applying or to tell us who has our application in their hands.
First of all, don’t wait it out. If you don’t receive a response immediately either acknowledging your application or requesting further action, this is your opportunity to show your initiative and sincere desire for this job. Don’t let this moment slip by.
If you don’t know what to say, or whom to say it to, check out LinkedIn’s Job Seeker resources. A sample text for this follow-up contact is included. Just fill in the blanks.
If you don’t know who should receive this message, LinkedIn suggests searching for the job listing on LinkedIn to see if it includes a link to the poster’s profile. You can also look on other listing services to see if any name is included, though I expect if you didn’t see it before you applied, it likely isn’t there.
Further digging may be necessary. LinkedIn suggests researching the company through its Company Page to see if any connections pop up. You can also use the social site or the company website to determine the titles for hiring managers and see if you can identify a specific individual that way. If you think you’ve found the hiring manager you’re looking for, think a few steps ahead before making contact. They may have posted the opening without their name attached for a number of reasons. If you make contact, be succinct, be quick and be polite. If you’re not sure your nerves could handle a prickly response, you may want to do a little more research to find an employee contact who could help guide you on this manager’s preferred communication methods.
When should you conduct this stalking, er, follow-up communication? Career author Hannah Morgan, writing at U.S. News &World Report’s On Careers site, suggests that “if you applied online and didn't receive any type of response that your application was received, an immediate or same-day call or email to the HR department isn't totally out of line.”
Many HR professionals in larger organizations will state that you shouldn’t bother them with these sorts of inquiries, but better to check than to assume your materials were received and never know for sure. Technology, Morgan reminds us, can and does fail, after all. One more follow-up a week later, to inquire as to the screening status, would be fair. After that, moving to communicating through any connections you have been able to unearth is probably wise.
And if you do make contact but find out that you will not be called in for an interview? Ask whether the company has other openings for which you may be eligible to apply or whether your application can be kept on file for future openings. After all, you have now created an inside connection, and you know how to use it.