Effective Follow Up Takes More than an E-Mail

Elizabeth Lions is a former recruiter – she might say "recovering recruiter" – who teaches and consults with engineers on job hunting. She’s also the author of Recession Proof Yourself, an advice book that’s notable for its straightforward logic.  

Red TelephoneLike a lot of people who coach people on jobs and careers, Elizabeth listens to people vent. Recently, she wrote me:

The most common complaint I hear from engineers nowadays is that they don’t hear back from employers after applying for a position. On top of leaving them confused and frustrated, this silence leaves them wondering why they weren’t selected for the job.

While engineers are usually solid at "finding positions online and researching companies to make sure they’re suited for the technologies and products they deal with," Elizabeth says when it comes to next steps, they often fall short.

E-mailing resumes makes rejection easier for the candidate and allows them to avoid any confrontation with the employer if they aren’t a good fit for the job. This tactic of taking the easier road doesn’t produce maximum results.

In other words, they don’t follow up, or if they do it’s by e-mail. The problem with such an arm’s-length approach it that it works both ways: While it allows candidates to maintain a certain distance, it allows employers to remain aloof, as well. You may not think so, but managers aren’t all on fire to give you bad news, even if they had the time to respond to every application personally. They’re receiving hundreds of resumes nowadays. 

So how do you get traction? Here’s Elizabeth:

I suggest getting your conversations, applications and resumes out of e-mail and becoming a person. After you submit your resume, pick up the phone and talk to a manager directly. While engineers may not be natural sales people, this is a critical step into actively starting a job search rather than being a passive candidate who continues to get rejected. 

In the world of e-mail, it’s easy to forget what a professional business relationship looks like and how to develop one. As a job seeker, you’re not out-of-line to call an employer and ask if they’ve received your resume. While you’re at it, ask about their hiring process and the steps involved. You’re not asking for an interview. You’re simply asking for information as to your status in the process. Request feedback on your resume and try to learn if they think you’re a good fit. Listen. Don’t challenge their responses. Understand this is a time to learn from the experience and practice the cold call. Yes, it will feel uncomfortable at first. But you’ll know where you stand, and you’ll feel more in-control over the job hunt.

Go back and read that last paragraph again. As a job hunter, you’re developing business relationships, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to create a conversation in a professional way.

— Mark Feffer

6 Responses to “Effective Follow Up Takes More than an E-Mail”

  1. Mike Calyn

    I’d love to “pick up the phone and become a real person”. But I don’t have that option. When was the last time that you saw a phone number listed in a job description?

  2. As a manager myself that is always looking for good talented staff the one thing that will make me NOt hire someone is a bad attitude. Looks like that is the only people that read this so far. Everybody sounds like young “whoa is me” individuals. Too bad.

  3. I really appreciate the suggestion put down by the author. I would surely make a point and put it in my personal diary to always give a call to the manager or the HR person for the position that I am applying for.

    This will always help in one or the other way.

    Special thanks to the author of this article.

  4. S Raj Kumar

    I call whenever a number is provided. When it’s not available I use the domain name of recruiter’s email address to locate the company website.. then I get their phone number and call asking for “Sales” because the “Recruiting” phone is NEVER answered in this economy. When talking with a Sales Person, I simply ask them who they recommend I speak with on the recruiting side. The sales people are polite and give the info I seek: I get the lead recruiter’s name, telephone number, extension and email address. Problem is: They still don’t call back! Lately, I’ve been driving over to the consulting company since a friend told me “You can’t ignore a body”. This is a lot of effort, however it’s working so far. No one has been rude to me, nor told me to go away. -S Raj Kumar