5 THINGS TO DO TO IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES AFTER SUBMITTING AN ONLINE JOB APPLICATION

Finding and applying for a position is only the first step in a job search.  (Read tips to optimize your resume for the ATS). The follow-up to that application is one of the most overlooked steps in any job search. Done well, it can make the difference in landing an interview or not. Done poorly, it can kill your chances of ever working at a company. So, how do you follow-up on a job application that was submitted online?

1. USE YOUR NETWORK

Your network is the most valuable asset in a job search. It does need to be cultivated regularly in order to realize its value. There are a number of ways that you can leverage and cultivate your network to support your job search. But, there are also many times where you may need to exercise a bit more discretion. Think about the following when utilizing your network to follow-up on a job application:

  • Name drop. For example, use your contact’s name when applying to the job. Some companies have policies that require a certain “preference” to applications that come with referrals. Or, use the person’s name when sending a follow-up email to express interest in the position. Be smart about whose name you use and how, but make sure you do as often as you can because a job search can be about who you know.
  • Ask for help. Let people you know who work at the company that you recently applied. This could turn your contact into an insider advocating for you. While you should be strategic about who you tell, you should still ask for help even if the person you know is in a different department than where you applied.
  • Get insights before you apply. Ask for insights on a company or a particular job from someone working at a company of interest before submitting your application. You will get the real details on working for a company this way and you may even be able to use the person’s name as the referral source for the position.
  • Let people know you are looking. People can’t help if they don’t know you need it. Ask for help from people in specific ways and they will undoubtedly support your efforts.

2. SEND AN EMAIL.

A well-written email in the right direction can go a long way to improving your application. The key to this form of follow-up is keeping it simple and trying to find the right person to send the message. Consider the following when trying to craft an email to follow-up on your application:

  • Keep it simple. The follow-up email should be no more than 4 sentences. Any longer and you risk coming off as desperate or lacking focus. Stay on point and the follow-up is far more effective.
  • Clearly express why you are interested. Include a statement in the follow-up email about why you are interested and why you are a good fit for this role. Never assume that the person will bother to read between the lines – clearly say why you are a good fit for the role and why you want it.
  • Write to the audience. A generic follow-up email can be worse than no follow-up. So, take 5 minutes and do simple research about the company to customize your follow-up message in a way that demonstrates you really care about this role at this company.
  • Aim in the right direction if you can’t find a single person. If you cannot find a single person to send the email to, then try to find someone that could help you connect with the right person making decisions on the role. Do a little research online focusing on human resources, talent acquisition, or recruiting departments. Keep it short and acknowledge in your follow-up that you know this person may not be the right person but that you are hoping that they could help. Chances are they may connect you with the right person – either directly or indirectly.

3. CALL TO EXPRESS INTEREST.

This tactic is underutilized but can be the most effective to help you stand out from the competition (for better or worse). Although it can be intimidating to pick up the phone, a well-placed phone call can help to demonstrate your interest and proactive skills. Before picking up the phone, make sure to think about the following:

  • Practice, practice, practice. Know what you want to say and take the time to practice out loud what you are going to say when you talk to someone.
  • Do your research. Take a little time to look at the company, recruiter, or person you are calling before you pick up the phone so you can ask the right questions when speaking with someone.
  • Prepare to leave a message. You may go straight to voicemail and need to be prepared to leave a message about why you are calling and why you are a good fit. Keep it short, speak clearly, and get to the point.
  • Ask for the time. Politely asking early in the call if this is a good time or if it is better to schedule a time demonstrates respect for the person’s time and professionalism.

4. LEVERAGE LINKEDIN 

LinkedIn can be an effective tool to research and follow-up on a job application. Many people struggle with what to do after they build their profile or connect with someone. Elevate your use of LinkedIn when following up on a job application by:

  • Research the company. A company’s page on LinkedIn can contain a lot of really useful information about what it does, news, and other great insights about the organization that may not make it to the website. After you find the company, consider following it to demonstrate real interest.
  • Benchmark yourself. From the company page, you can see all of the employees (current and former) of the company. Take a few minutes to search through the employees to see the profiles of people with similar job titles to what you are applying to. This can provide great insights about whether you really have what it takes to land the interview with the company and tips on how to improve your own LinkedIn profile for when it really counts.
  • Find who you know that works at the company. Find 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections that are working at the company. Reach out to these people in a way that makes the most sense based on your relationship with the person to help your current application.
  • In-mail. Sending an in-mail can be a great way to connect with a decision maker in a non-invasive manner. Do this strategically and know that the message may become part of your candidate profile.
  • Find emails. Not everyone logs in to LinkedIn every day, so take a moment to see if the person has an email listed on their profile. Consider using the email information to send a follow-up message off of LinkedIn to improve your chances that someone will read it.
  • Reference connections. Regardless of whether you are sending an in-mail or email, take a moment to include some personal reference or common ground that you share with the person. This will dramatically increase the odds that the person will actually read your message and maybe even respond.

5. FOLLOW-UP AGAIN WITH STRATEGY

Effective follow-up is about consistency. This means that you will probably have to do more than 1 of the above things in order to engage the right people. Repeated follow-up also requires a bit of strategy in order to not appear desperate or unprofessional. Here are a few things to think about when formulating your consistent strategy for follow-up:

  • Timing matters. The longer the job has been posted the more likely it is that the company is progressing through the process. Reflect this timing in your follow-up plan and make sure you don’t bombard the same person with the messages.
  • Consider multiple tactics. Take a full frontal approach to follow-up on the positions that you are most interested in. But, be careful not to step on any toes when you do. Be respectful of the potential roles and responsibilities of who you connect within the follow-up process.
  • Be consistent. Pick a theme and stick with it through the hiring process to help brand yourself against the competition. Stay true to this message when doing all of your follow-up with the company.
  • Know when to stop. There are lots of reasons why your application may not go anywhere that have nothing to do with you or your qualifications (i.e. the role is put on hold, budgeting, internal hires, etc.). Be OK with moving on and make sure to keep following up on multiple applications until you secure a position.

​Although there are definitely wrong ways to follow-up, there is no single way to follow-up on a job application that will guarantee you an interview. The reality is that employers receive an average of 70 applications per job that is posted (with some receiving many, many more). So, the most important thing to do is simply follow-up professionally to stay top of mind.

Feeling overwhelmed? The Contingent Plan career experts can help set your job search on the right path. Our members work with the career experts to stay accountable to their personal goals while utilizing our unparalleled insights of talent acquisition. Learn more and get started today!

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With years of experience in the job acquisition field, Kathy has delivered exceptional service by providing in-depth knowledge about recruiting qualified employees, and crafting the perfect resume. The Contingent Plan comprises a team of expert recruiters, resume writers, and outplacement experts—all ready to help you! Read Kathy’s blogs, and discover simple tricks and tips to help you land the job of your dreams.