Why you MUST Follow-up After Clicking that Apply Button


Job hunting can be tough, especially when you're applying and not hearing anything back. When someone comes to me with woes of a silent search, the very first question I ask is, "Did you follow-up after?"

::more silence::

"Well... I applied...so they know I'm interested. 
No... I guess I didn't think I had to... 
But I applied..."

Job hunters, just because you applied does not mean the recruiter will spend any real time looking over your resume. And it's not because you're not qualified, but because most of the other candidates you're in the applicant pool with are also qualified. So how are you standing out? If there are 200 applicants, that recruiter has some serious sifting to do in order to cultivate their yes, no, and maybe piles, and that takes time - and time is money. When you have 20-30 open roles to fill across multiple departments, it's easy to see how a resume that may have received 30 seconds of consideration before, may only get 6 seconds now.  It's for this reason why standing out matters, because here's the thing... you're not usually up against the other candidates; you're up against the volume. 

A humbling reminder: if you do not follow-up on a job you applied for, you forfeit the right to be ticked off when they don't call. So pull out all the stops, get creative, and at the very least... leave a message. 

"But doesn't everyone follow-up?"

No. They don't. In fact, less than 5% of candidates follow-up ... in any capacity... ever. And that's why you need to! A former colleague of mine shared his story recently at a panel event we were both at, and it's a shining example of how this tiny, professional gesture can make all the difference. 

"When I applied for my current position, I called and left a voice mail to follow up. I really wanted this job. A day later, I got brought in for an interview, and the manager told me I was the only candidate - out of 100 - who followed-up. I got the job because I was qualified, and he saw that I would fit in well with the corporate culture, but I got the interview because I was the ONLY one who followed-up."

"...But I don't want to bug them."  

Calling and leaving a voice mail or email is not going to bug them. It is seen as a professional courtesy and something that lets the recruiter know who is serious about the job, and who is not. Taking initiative and showing good follow-through only demonstrates for them the level of professionalism you would bring over to the job if hired. All it takes is a 10-second voice mail. No excuses.

"But what if I don't know how to/who to call?"  

It's 2018. You can find pretty much everything using LinkedIn and Google these days. If you run into dead-ends, you can also just call their office's front desk, and simply ask for the human resources department. It's that easy. 

"What if I got an automatic email thanking me for my application and it specifically said NOT to follow-up?" 

If they tell you not to email or call, then don't. The last thing you want is to scream I don't follow directions! (Also, recruiters may have this disclaimer for a number of reasons, but regardless, you want to respect it. It might also be because they only have one person handling all the hiring and they use a generic inbox to collect voicemails and emails, and it's not checked regularly. You just never know, so don't take it personally.)

"Is using LinkedIn a good way to follow-up?"
Yes! Even if the auto-email says not to follow-up... and even while you do want to respect their request... you do want to do something. This is why when people say, "It's all about who you know..." it really is. You want someone on the inside pulling for you. I love using LinkedIn for this very reason. If you can go on LinkedIn and find a former classmate or colleague, or just find ANY contact that works there, you can easily reach out in confidence and say, "Hi Jen, I know this is a bit random, but I just applied for the XYZ position in Company ABC's accounting department. How do you like working there? Is it a solid team? Thanks for your time! Best, Krystal" 

Notice how the message did NOT mention the auto-email, and I did NOT ask her to do me a favor? Never did I say, "Hey, what's your advice? Can you help me get in? Who can I call?" No. I simply asked them about what they think, and how they like working there. By making it about them, you have a much better chance at connecting with someone (or reconnecting) and by reaching out, they may even just shoot their boss, or that job's supervisor, a quick email with your name and a nudge that you'd be a good fit. It is not uncommon that this leads to a resume being specifically pulled from a pile and looked at a bit more closely. You would be shocked how often this works, and it definitely does you way more justice than not doing anything at all. If you simply apply and wait, you might be waiting for a long time. If you really want a job, you need to make it known, because that is ultimately the person they want to hire; someone who really wants to be there. 

Krystal Hicks