When you apply to jobs online, prospective employers receive your materials in a matter of clicks. This instantaneous, paper-free process certainly has its perks, though it can often feel as though your application disappeared into some digital no-man’s land – especially if you don’t hear back from anyone. Instead of just assuming you weren’t a good fit for the job, take matters into your own hands by strategically (and politely) following up.
Following up on an application accomplishes three core things:
Additionally, you may be given a status update with valuable information (i.e., if the position is still open, how many individuals have applied, are interviews being scheduled, etc.). As Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. points out in his article, “Follow Up All Job Leads: Don’t Wait by the Phone (or Computer),” even receiving bad news from a follow-up call or email is beneficial:
“You may get discouraged if you discover through following up that you are not a final candidate for a position, but isn’t knowing that information sooner rather than later better in terms of moving forward with your job-search? And don’t let a rejection stop you; in fact, if you are told you will not be one of the job-seekers interviewed, consider asking why so that you can improve your chances for other job openings. And if you have a good rapport with the hiring manager, you could also ask about the possibility of an informational interview, possibly turning that person into a valuable networking contact and source of future job leads. You could also say that you would like to be considered for future openings.”
When should you follow up? A week after applying is generally the right amount of time if you haven’t heard back. Reaching out too soon may annoy the hiring manager and touching base too late defeats the purpose. Also, following up one time is sufficient in most cases. Alison Green of Ask A Manager recommends emailing only once: “At that point, you’ll have expressed interest twice (your initial application and your follow-up). They know you’re interested. If they want to talk to you, they’ll contact you.”
Quick note of caution: if the job posting explicitly states “no phone calls” or sets a clear expectation for when applicants should expect to hear back, be respectful and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Ready to execute a follow-up plan? View our handy templates for contacting the hiring manager via phone or email. If you don’t have the hiring manager’s name or contact information, check out these tips for reaching the decision maker.