By Jenny Foss
You landed the interview, and as far as you’re concerned? You nailed that sucker.
Or, you met with a recruiter who seemed super interested and incredibly connected with the exact kinds of companies for whom you want to work.
She said, “Keep in touch!”
Awesome. But a couple of weeks have gone by and nothing’s happened. So what do you do now? Can you follow up with her without reeking of desperation or looking like a pest?
This topic freaks a lot of job seekers out. Many people, even when they know they truly lit the interview on fire, would rather do absolutely nothing than risk looking stupid or making the wrong follow-up move.
But that’s what’s stupid. Because staying top of mind is incredibly important—and not just for the job at hand. Even if you’re not the right candidate for a particular position (or the position is filled before you can really show the company your amazingness), wowing the right decision maker—a recruiter, an HR person, or a hiring manager—can be incredibly valuable down the line.
With that in mind, here are a few ways you can ease the “staying in touch” part of the job search equation:
1. Ask About Next Steps (Before You Leave the Interview)
As a recruiter, it stuns me that so few people end the conversation with this question. But if you ask the interviewer what happens next, you know exactly when it’s acceptable to follow up. If the she says she’ll be contacting candidates within a week, and it’s day 9? It’s completely OK to touch base and remind her of the timetable she gave you. Don’t be pushy, but a quick note is perfect:
“Hi Sue—I hope you’re having a great week. You mentioned that your team would be finalizing a hiring decision on the Marketing Manager position this week. I’m eager to hear when you have an update. And certainly, if I may provide any additional information to support your decision-making process, please let me know!”
2. Get That Thank-You Note Out (With Lightning Speed)
Thank-you notes matter: They give you a terrific opportunity to follow up with the decision-maker right away. I encourage job seekers to get thank-you notes out (to each individual they’ve met in the interview process) immediately after the interview. Same day. From your laptop in the parking lot, if you really want to wow them.
Use this moment to affirm to the hiring manager that you’re on top of things and would bring a ton of value into the position for which you’re interviewing. Make it easy for them to decide on you.
3. Ask if You Can Connect via LinkedIn (Then Do)
Hey, this is a potential long-term professional relationship in the making. So it’s perfectly appropriate to connect on LinkedIn after the interview. That said—you don’t want to ambush anyone with your request, or leave the decision-maker wondering what your motives are (and please—no generic connection requests!). Instead, you should create a logical reason for connecting, then ask if she’s OK with it while you’re at the interview.
“You want to start dragon boat racing? I’d love to introduce you to my former colleague. He leads a dragon boat team right here in Portland.”
Or maybe, “I read a New York Times article about how Coca-Cola is employing brand strategy in this same way. Did you see it? I’ll be happy to forward it to you.”
There’s your in. And once you’re in? You can build a long-term professional relationship with that person, whether you end up landing the job or not.
4. If Things Drag Out, Check in (Periodically)
This is the job search technique people tend to stink at the most—the periodic check-in. But it’s so important, and it should be used throughout your career to keep your network fresh and engaged.
Now, this is not about harassment: “Did I get the job?” “Do you have a job for me?” “Did you make a decision?” Not at all. It’s about offering something of value to your contact. And in doing so, you will also (by default) remind her that you’re still out there.
This could mean forwarding an article that you think she’ll find interesting, or congratulating her if you notice she’s been promoted or earned some sort of recognition. Maybe thanking her for a bit of advice that you employed. Keep it simple and brief, and don’t ask for anything back. If that person hears from you and has an update? She’ll absolutely be in touch. Try:
“Hi Sue, We spoke last month about the product manager position at XYZ Industries. In our conversation, you highlighted some emerging trends in food packaging. I noticed this attached article about the same topic and thought of you. No response necessary. I hope you find the information useful!”
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Nothing elaborate, and once a month is probably about right if you don’t get much response. But you can be assured that Sue will remember you, and in a good way if you’re helpful and non-pesky in the follow-up.
The bottom line is: Stay top of mind. It’s half the battle.