Our last post was 5 rules for following up after submitting a job application. But knowing what NOT to do when following up is at least as important. After all, a serious misstep will cost you the job instead of gaining you an interview.
As the On Careers article notes, following up is about being ‘politely persistent’. It involves asking for more information, confirming your application was received, and stating your continued interest in the position. Based on our own experience with job applicants and job seekers, we’ve come up with our own rules on what NOT to do when communicating with an employer:
1. If the job description specifically states ‘do not contact us regarding your application’… don’t contact them. This is usually the case when an employer expects to receive a lot of applications – the hiring team is simply too busy to respond to individual requests for information. Unfortunately, following up in this case is impossible.
Instead, if you know someone at the company, the best thing you can do is contact them to let them know you submitted an application, and attach your resume. If they think you are a good fit for the job, they will put in a word for you.
2. Do not say you “are the best candidate for the job”. While you may be a strong candidate, this is too aggressive and arrogant an approach. There is no way of knowing who else applied, or of judging your fit within the company culture itself.
Instead, ensure your resume and cover letter address the key points in the job description and follow up by saying you are very interested in the job and believe your particular skills and/or experience will be an asset to the company.
3. Give it time. Do not follow up right away – give your application 5-7 days to reach a hiring manager. Give the hiring manager a week to respond before politely following up again. If they do not give a timeline for their decision (ie “you’ll hear from us in 2 weeks”) then wait a week before your next communication. The key is to let them know you are interested in the job, without being overly desperate or annoying.
4. Do not mention why you need the job. We all need a job for the same reasons: to make money, or to gain experience to land a better job. Detailing your financial hardships will not make you a better applicant. An employer is looking for someone with the right skills and potential to perform well in a specific role – and as compelling as your story may be, you cannot expect an employer to take a risk on someone who is unqualified. Do not try and guilt your way into being hired, gain it on your own merits.
Instead, apply only for jobs you are qualified for. Be interested in the company, and what you can bring to the position. Instead of focusing on your own hardships, tell the hiring manager or recruiter why you will excel at the job.
When following up is an option, it is a great way to help your application get noticed. Be polite, professional and concise and your follow-up communications will work in your favour.