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Should you follow up after every job application?

CareerBuilder | November 9, 2017

Should you follow up

Knowing how to follow up on a job application can be key to getting or losing a potential job. Read on to learn how to do so in the best possible way.

Searching for a job can be stressful. When you find a job you think you'd really like, it can feel like one wrong move can spell disaster. While this usually is not the case, it does lead many to question when following up with a potential employer is appropriate. And though there aren't any universal rules on the subject, here are some guidelines to help you determine whether to reach out.

Make the connection

Many employers have automated systems that will send a job application email when your application has been received – so if you haven't heard back within 24 hours of submitting, it's worth checking in.

"If you've invested the time it takes to fill out a job application, and these days online applications can be quite lengthy, it is absolutely appropriate and necessary to follow up on a job application to be sure your application has been received and to inquire about when you might expect to learn of next steps," says says Julie Kniznik, senior consultant with ClearRock, a Boston-Based HR consulting and leadership development firm. "Whenever possible try to find the hiring manager and send a cover letter with your resume directly to the hiring manager letting them know you've applied to the position and are eager to learn more about the opportunity."

Show your interest

Employers are looking for workers who are genuinely excited about the position, and following up is one of the easiest and most effective ways to demonstrate just how interested you are.

"Job seekers should know that tenacity is often noted and usually rewarded," says Adam Hatch, a hiring manager and career expert at "Going the extra mile, especially with an immediate 'thank you' follow up after an interview, is quickly becoming standard etiquette in job searches."

Always send a thank you

After an interview, it's always a good idea to send a thank-you note or email to the individuals you met with. According to Penny Locey, vice president of Keystone Associates, job seekers should send in a thank you within 24 hours of the interview.

"Try to be creative," says Locey. "Candidates can send the interviewer news with the thank you note. Look to touch on your conversation, if you spoke about a certain issue, an article or book or an upcoming event – send them information that touches on the topic. This will show that you are thinking about the business and were truly engaged in the conversation."

Practice restraint

As with anything, it is possible to follow up too much. Following up can demonstrate your interest, but overdoing it can make you come off as desperate or inconsiderate.

"Following up does not mean becoming a nuisance," says Kniznik. "If you've made multiple attempts via email and phone and aren't making progress, let it go and move on to the next opportunity."

"Checking in periodically based on your understanding of the company's interview process is important," Kniznik adds. "Conducting a successful job search requires being assertive without being annoying!"

However, while it is possible to overdo it, this shouldn't stop you from following up with a potential employer.

"Now that I've been on the other side of situation, I definitely would encourage a follow up email," says Andrew Choco, VP of Marketing at digital agency, Directive Consulting. "A lot of times, I'll see a job application, say I'll look at it, and then get caught up in a massive work project. Eventually the application gets buried in my inbox. Sending a follow up email that highlights you've done some research (congratulating the company on a recent achievement, asking a relevant question about the industry, etc.) is a great way to set yourself apart from the monotonous format of job applications and resumes."

Don't close doors

In some cases, even a rejection may merit a well-crafted follow up. Getting turned down for a job can be a big letdown, but smart job seekers will recognize the opportunity to demonstrate how they behave in the face of adversity.

"If you receive a rejection, respond and thank them for their time. I always suggest adding in a statement saying, 'Please do consider me for other positions you feel I am better suited for in the future,'" says Samantha R. Strazanac, CEO and founder, Strazanac Solutions LLC. "This shows you are resilient, not upset and still interested in the company. I have many experiences where the first person hired didn't work out so we tried someone who we originally passed by and they turned out to the better than the person we originally hired. Never burn bridges, even in a job rejection."

Following up on job applications is a great way to show your interest in a company and keep your name at the top of the hiring manager's mind. Even if it doesn't lead to an immediate hire, you'll make a great impression that could pay off down the line.

More information about interviews:

Top 5 questions to ask in your next interview