Ask Dana: How to follow up on a job application… Plus, How to beat the Internet-based application systems

How to follow up on a job application
How to follow up on a job application

How to follow up on a job application

I would appreciate some advice on job search follow-up after having submitted an application but before being given an interview. What steps should I take to encourage the hiring company to offer me the opportunity to interview?

Do potential employers expect phone calls or emails to confirm that an application has been received? Do they assume there is a lack of interest if I don’t follow up at that stage in the process?

I have worked for the same company my entire 36 years of full-time employment, and job hunting is new to me. I am only applying for jobs for which I am fully qualified, so I don’t understand why I’m not getting called in for interviews.

Advice from Dana:

Your followup after applying depends on how you applied, so here are your options:

Submitting an application through a job board, company website, etc:

It is very hard to follow up on these since you do not have a contact name. I recommend a two-step process to my clients. One, you need to press “send” on your application using their required tool just to get into their system. However, odds of being called in for an interview are low. Two, you need to network to find an employee who will refer you or someone inside or outside the company to forward your credentials to the hiring manager. And as part of Step 2, you may even forward your own application to a senior manager in that department, advising him or her that you have also applied online.

Submitting to a person, either a network contact who offered to refer you, or to an employee of your target company:

YES, you should follow up within seven working days after the first submittal with another e-mail. Be sure to attach all of your prior correspondence, including your résumé and cover letter, with every follow-up mail. Then you get to do that three more times without being a nuisance.

So, after the first follow-up e-mail, wait seven more working days and send a different note. Make the emails interesting and informational, rather than “just following up.”

No, companies do not assume that you are not interested if you don’t follow up.

If job searching is new to you, please get current with all of the latest techniques! And I hope you are not applying with just a résumé!

Question: How to beat the Internet-based application systems

I still myself feel frustrated by the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) job application process. Unless certain words are used, and if the resume matches a precise layout, the resume falls into an abyss. The worst thing is that some of the applications can last hours … and amount to nothing. Any recommendations?

Advice from Dana:

Wow! First, you have every right to feel frustrated! I have felt that way throughout all of my job searches.

Now, a number of solutions come to mind. So allow me to break it into pieces.

Try to use more key words in your resume

How? Find 10 job descriptions for your target job – they can be anywhere geographically, as this is for research only. Circle the key words they use, find those in common, and make a list. Now review your resume. For example, if you use “sales” in your resume yet they use “business development,” change it! Make the same changes in your LinkedIn profile so recruiters, who also use the same key words to search, can find you!

Just applying to jobs, through an ATS or not, is a flawed strategy

Yes, you need to check the box and file your resume through the company’s system. Now the real action starts! Network your way into the company by finding an employee of the company to refer you or someone who can forward your credentials to the hiring manager.

Make a great cover letter page one of your resume

Repeat: your cover letter is NOT a separate attachment, but the first page in the same WORD or PDF document, following the same style and using the same fonts. You can add more key words from the company’s job description to the cover letter here and customize it based on your company research. Do NOT simply regurgitate your resume and, please, cut the use of “I, I, I, me, me, me.”

In summary, re-boot your approach and add many other job search activities at the same time.


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