Should You Follow Up After Applying for a Job?

A job seeker looks at her watch, wondering if she should follow up after applying for a job

You’re sure your administrative resume was impressive, your cover letter was engaging and you are well-qualified for the job. And, yet, you’ve not heard anything from the company since you applied. Should you send a follow-up email or call the company? 

You want the employer to know you are truly interested in the administrative job. But you don’t want to come across as desperate. Is it OK to follow up after applying for a job? And, if so, how should you do it?

We spoke with Jennifer Brookshire, OfficeTeam division director in Charlotte, N.C., to find out all the answers.

Should you follow up after applying for a job?

Jennifer Brookshire: We all know that applying for a job can be like throwing your resume into a black hole and hoping it comes out on the other side. So, when the opportunity presents itself, it’s definitely worth sending a follow-up email or calling the company directly.

What are the rules for following up?

JB: It can be tricky to know the best way to follow up after applying for a job. It’s partly based on how you applied for the job and who the job is with.

A follow-up email is perfectly fine. But a phone call can sometimes have a bigger impact.

If you know the name of the employer and title of the administrative job you applied for, call the company and speak to the receptionist. Let them know what position you’re targeting and that you would like to follow up on your application. The receptionist should be able to give you the next steps or connect you with the right person to talk to.

Similar rules apply when you’re working through a staffing firm to find an administrative job. It really doesn’t hurt — and, in fact, is actually really helpful — to call the staffing agency to make sure they have received your information and to verify that the job you’re interested in is still available.

No matter who you’re following up with, or if you’re sending a follow-up email or picking up the phone, ALWAYS be friendly and positive. Whether you realize it or not, you’re making an impression on someone who may have a say in who is hired for the role, and you want it to be a good one.

How do you follow up in a way that does not annoy the hiring manager?

JB: Make sure you are clear and concise in your follow-up email or phone call. As much as possible, try to come across as calm and confident. That can be hard to do, of course, but it helps to have this attitude.

It also doesn’t hurt to try to create a sense of urgency with the hiring manager. If you are interviewing for other administrative jobs or are lucky enough to have a job offer in hand already, let the employer know. Your goal isn’t to give the hiring manager an ultimatum but to stress your interest in the position they’re hiring for and to, hopefully, encourage them to call you in for an interview quickly.

How long should you wait before you follow up after applying for a job?

JB: Send your follow-up email within a few days of applying for the position. Give the hiring manager or recruiter at least 24 hours to respond to you.

Avoid calling back multiple times a day or sending a flood of follow-up emails. Too much follow-up paints you as impatient. And, yes, it will annoy the recipient.

How many times should you follow up after applying for a job?

JB: Follow up until the employer gives you a reason not to. That means, if you have followed up several times and still have not heard back, it’s probably best to move on.

What does it mean if you never hear back from the employer?

JB: Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

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