When and How to Follow Up on Job Applications: 12 Tips

Young woman doing video interview
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.

There’s nothing like reading a job listing and feeling that this could be the perfect job for you. So you apply to the position — and then it’s crickets.

Unfortunately, this can (and does) happen a whole lot when you’re job searching. The hiring process can drag on for weeks and sometimes months.

If you really want to know if you’re in the running for the job, you should follow up on your job application.

Of course, you want to follow up without coming across as pushy. And, because of the pandemic, it’s hard to know how and when to follow up without seeming demanding during a time when many hiring managers already have their hands full.

But there are steps you can take to follow up on your job application without ruining your chances of landing a new job. Before you fire off an email or take time to call, double-check and make sure that following up is the right thing to do.

Here are several tips on when to follow up and how.

1. Reread the listing

unemployed job seeker
Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Before you do anything, give the job description a thorough reread.

FlexJobs career coach Toni Frana offers this advice: “Pay attention to dates or timelines that may be included in the posting. In the job posting, a company may mention when the application window closes. Once you apply, you wouldn’t want to follow up prior to that date. Instead, use the opportunity to keep applying for other positions!”

2. Be respectful

telecommuting
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

In some scenarios, the job listing might state that applicants not call or email for their status. If that’s the case, you should abide by the employer’s wishes and refrain from reaching out.

Although it can be frustrating to wait it out, you shouldn’t follow up — even though you really want to. If you ignore the request, the recruiter will think you either did not read the job listing carefully or that you don’t follow directions well.

Though companies are hiring in spite of the pandemic, the hiring process has slowed down. Keep that in mind as you follow up on your application.

Hiring managers may not have any information to share or might suddenly find they can’t hire for the position you applied to.

Be mindful that it’s hard on everyone right now, and hiring managers may not have any useful information for you.

3. Time it right

You may be asked to take on an example project - or take some tests - when you apply for a new job.
By Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

While you might want to follow up on a job application just a few days after submitting it, you should probably wait a little longer.

“Unless the job posting specifically states the application closing window, in which case that gives you a target date for follow-up, waiting about a week or two before following up on applications is a good rule of thumb,” Frana suggests. “In general, this gives the hiring team enough time on their end to review received applications.”

4. Pick the right day

Man using a digital calendar on his computer
NicoElNino / Shutterstock.com

If there are two days of the week to avoid following up with someone, they are Mondays and Fridays.

Monday is often a busy transition day as people move back into work mode. As for Friday, if the person doesn’t see your email, it may get buried under a weekend’s worth of emails.

Ideally, stick with Tuesday through Thursday for following up on job applications.

5. Use your connections

Email
Who is Danny / Shutterstock.com

Maybe your former colleague (or your Aunt Marty) is friends with one of the execs at the new company you want to work for. Go through your business and personal contacts to see if you know anyone who can help you get your foot in the door — or get your resume placed at the head of the pile.

Explain the role that you’re looking to get, and everything that qualifies you for the job, such as your education, skill set and work experience.

But don’t stop there — be sure to offer your assistance to the person, too. That way, they might be more amenable to helping you as well.

You can also use online networking tools like LinkedIn to see if you have anyone in your network who might have a connection to the company you’d like to work for.

If you do, you can always reach out and see if that person has some inside intel on the job. Depending on your relationship with the person, you might be able to ask for the person to put in a good word for you.

6. Be professional

Young businesswoman working on laptop at cafe
Friends Stock / Shutterstock.com

Just because you sent in your application or spoke with the hiring manager doesn’t mean that you’re bosom buddies. Being overly personal or casual is a mistake.

Recruiters and hiring managers are friendly, and it is their job to talk to several people about a position. They don’t, however, have time to become personal friends with everyone they interview.

Even if your initial interaction was excellent, be professional and respect personal boundaries when following up on job applications.

7. Find the right email

Young man working remotely on a laptop
merzzie / Shutterstock.com

If you reach out by email, if at all possible you’ll want to send your email directly to the hiring manager — rather than to a general “jobs @ xyz.com” email address — when following up on job applications.

If you’re lucky, the address will be posted on the original job listing, but if not, finding the email may require a bit more detective work.

Try navigating to the company’s page on LinkedIn and clicking on “People.”

From here, you can search for the hiring manager (or someone with a comparable title if you’re not sure of the name), and see if they have an email address on their profile.

8. Be brief

Man with laptop
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

It’s a good idea to know what you’re going to say before following up on a job application. So whether you opt to call the hiring manager, draft an email or send a LinkedIn message, try to keep your contact as brief as possible.

“It’s important to keep your correspondence short, as hiring managers and recruiters are likely receiving emails and notes from dozens of other candidates as well, so brevity is key,” says Frana.

“Your email or note should express two key things: your continued interest in the job and a question about when candidates can expect to hear about next steps,” she adds.

9. Ask a follow-up question

Woman Questioning
Jeanette Dietl / Shutterstock.com

Sure, you really just want to find out if you got the gig or not. But to justify your follow-up, you might want to pose a question to the employer.

If they’re still receiving applications, you can ask when they expect to start narrowing down their decisions and when interviews will begin. This can give you a guideline of when you can expect to hear back.

10. Get social

Woman working from home on computer and phone
GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com

Jump on the social media bandwagon: “Like” the company’s Facebook page and follow their Twitter feed.

“In today’s job market, companies want to find an employee with the right professional skill set and someone who fits in with the company culture,” suggests Frana. “Like and comment on their posts, as this shows the team you are enthused about what they are doing.”

11. Follow up on your job application by phone

Asian woman talking on her smartphone
miya227 / Shutterstock.com

If you haven’t heard back about your job application after two weeks, it’s perfectly acceptable to call the hiring manager unless the listing states otherwise.

You’ll need a different strategy depending on whether someone picks up the phone or if you have to leave a voicemail. Here are example scripts of how the conversation might go.

Voicemail script
Hello, this is [name]. I’m following up on the application I submitted on [date] for [position]. I wanted to reiterate my interest in the role and tell you I’m more than happy to clarify or expand on any of the info I sent.

If you’d like to call me back, my number is __________. Thank you so much for your time, and have a great day!

Phone script
Hello, this is [name], and I’m an applicant for [position].

Wait for a response. Follow their lead, but it may be appropriate to say something like this next:

I wanted to make sure you received the application and see if there’s any additional information I can provide. I don’t want to interrupt or take up too much time, though!

Then, let them respond — they’ll let you know if they have time to talk. If you choose this route, be prepared with two to three short, specific questions or points of conversation. Be brief, thank them for their time and follow their lead on the conversation.

If they say that they’re in the preliminary stages of vetting candidates and going through applications, you can ask if they know a timeline of when they’ll be in touch with candidates.

If you don’t receive a phone call or an email during the time period specified, you are probably not a contender for the position.

12. Let them know you’re in demand

A young businessman with a new job in a city
A StockStudio / Shutterstock.com

If the company has expressed interest in you as a candidate for the job, but you haven’t heard anything since that initial contact, you can try to speed up the process by letting them know that other companies are interested in you — if and only if that’s true.

“If you do have other companies interested in you, but are interested in a particular position, you can think about letting them know you’re in demand,” says Frana.

“Simply stating in your follow-up email that you continue to be very interested in the position, but are also exploring other opportunities, can be a gentle way to nudge a company along,” she explains.

Don’t use any sort of threatening language, and be careful that you don’t come off as egotistical.

But subtly letting them know you’re in demand can be a smart tactic, as it may encourage companies to look at you more seriously and move things along in the process.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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