By Kristyn Schiavone
Tribune Media Services
June 7, 2012
Most job seekers perceive landing an interview to be their biggest hurdle in the search process. Once that foot's in the door, they think, it's all downhill as long as they wow the hiring manager with their during the meeting.
But in truth, learning the art of effective follow-up is critical for anyone seeking employment, and it is possible to kill your chances once you're out of the interview room by not taking the proper steps. Beth Gilfeather, founder and CEO of Boston-based Seven Step Recruiting, has some advice on making sure the great impression you made sticks with you through out the hiring process.
Composing the perfect thank-you note
By all accounts, a thank-you note is expected from any candidate who's serious about the position, and a well-written one will put you ahead of the pack. Here are some of Gilfeather's thoughts on thank-yous:
Always email, and add handwritten if the recruiter will appreciate it. These days, it's critical that your note arrives promptly, and an email thank-you is quicker and less likely to get lost. An email is also easy for the recruiter to save or circulate to other members of the team. And, Gilfeather notes, it's much more eco-friendly to email if that's highly valued at the company. If your recruiter seems like the type who will appreciate an old-fashioned paper thank-you, though, feel free to supplement with that.
Thank everyone you spoke with, including team members, managers and HR personnel. This will help establish a "positive consensus" about you as a candidate, Gilfeather says. You can either write individual emails or a single email copying everyone.
Be prompt. Write and send the thank-you note as soon as you have a minute to do it, no more than 24-36 hours after the interview. Ideally, though, it should arrive within a matter of hours. "Sending a thank-you email within an hour and a half of the meeting not only shows your sense of urgency and organization, it also demonstrates a strong level of interest which is very flattering to the hiring manager," Gilfeather says.
Be concise. The purpose of a thank-you note is to actually thank people for their time and interest in you as a candidate, not to pitch yourself again or give a play-by-play of the interview. Gilfeather also recommends against addressing concerns employers expressed during the interview. "If there is a known concern, simply say in the note that you know there are still some questions on their side and offer to speak with them over the phone or in person at their convenience to further clarify your transferrable skills and work experience.
Send a note after every interview, not just the first.
Other follow-up tips
Never stalk the employer. If you were told you'd hear something by a certain date and haven't, wait a week and then contact the employer again via email. If you weren't given a time frame, follow up with an email a week after the initial interview, Gilfeather says. "Don't be paranoid if you don't hear quickly," she notes. "Remember that hiring may not be their top priority and they also may be out of town for business, or taking time off from work. A delay in response is not always a clear indicator of disinterest."
It's OK to ask for feedback if you receive a rejection letter, but you probably won't get much of it. "Did you enjoy breaking up with your boy or girlfriend in high school? No – it's uncomfortable and could get confrontational. That's why hiring managers will typically provide the safe, generic explanation of ‘We found a stronger candidate,'" Gilfeather says.
Keep pursuing the organization if you're truly interested. Maybe you didn't land this job, but Gilfeather says most employers today hire candidates from their databases. Stay on the lookout for job opportunities and follow the company on social media.
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