Career Hack: How To Master The Art Of The Follow Up When Job Hunting

Traverse Career Hack™: A creative solution, strategy, shortcut, or tactic to help you navigate your career challenge with greater skill or efficiency.

Looking for a new job? Then you have likely experienced one or two frustrating moments – probably more.

Maybe you are waiting for a company to acknowledge receipt of your resume (is that mystifying portal actually a black hole?). Perhaps you’re holding your breath, hoping for news that you have advanced to the next round of interviews. Job hunting can be especially perplexing as we wait for employers to please, please, PLEASE acknowledge our existence.

As they say, the waiting is the hardest part.

Instead of: Staring at your computer, refreshing your email inbox, or ensuring your phone ringer is on for the 10th time…

Try: Following up proactively.

Consider these three steps to regain control of your job search – and regain momentum:

  1. Decide you will initiate the follow-up. There is no rule that you can’t follow up throughout the job search process, and it’s a good strategy since so few candidates do. Your goal in job searching is to market yourself as the candidate of choice, moving each stage of the process forward. The follow-up is part of this journey.
  2. Choose to use the phone. Everyone loves to send emails; it’s a convenient, go-to choice. And you certainly can use email when following up. However, it shouldn’t be the only method you choose. Since electronic inboxes are overflowing these days, your follow-up email is easier to ignore. A call or voicemail, on the other hand, is not. If you really want a response to your follow-up, a better strategy is to pick up the phone and use your voice.
  3. Write down what you will say, and practice it. You may start to get nervous, wondering whether the person on the other end will actually pick up, or hoping you don’t leave an awkward voicemail. Either way, you want to be prepared. Jot down some notes beforehand so you can be ready:

    “Hi Katie, my name is Ellen Dunagan, and I am calling in follow-up to submitting my resume and cover letter for the HR Manager position. I wanted to make sure you received them, as I am very excited about the opportunity with XYZ Company. I would love to speak with you about my skills and experience; please call me back at (my phone number).”

    If you get a voicemail (which is highly likely), request a call back – and be ready for that, too!


Winning a new job does not come from following a perfect formula. But following up is a powerful strategy that will actually help you stand out from your competition. So the next time you find yourself wondering “Is anybody out there?” during a job search, take action and follow up. You might just be surprised at the results!

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