Q. I’ve applied for a couple dozen actual jobs in the past six months. A very few have acknowledged my application. No response from the others. What sort of follow up is appropriate? How long should I wait before follow-up with those who never respond, or should I just move on? -EV
A. Lean staffs and tight budgets have created a lot of bad manners by companies and agencies. One of my favorite bosses at Lilly, Bud Cairns, insisted that anyone who contacted the company would hear back from us within a week. And those were the days of written letters, not email. Technology today permits easy responses that acknowledge receipt of resumes. Such responses should spell out the process and note what the applicant should expect. It can even say that if you don’t hear from us, then we’ve found someone with greater qualifications.
If applicants know someone within the firm where the application was sent, tap that person to check out what’s happening with your resume. If your resume was sent to a job site with no contact person, call the company and ask who is responsible for the open position. If that’s impossible to determine, get the name of the firm’s recruiter or human resources director. Then send a follow-up email and resume to that individual directly. Avoid the phone; no one has the time plus they won’t have ready access to your resume.
Regarding follow-up timing, I suggest doing so 10 days after sending the original application. If you don’t hear back within a few days, it’s a safe bet they’re pursuing other candidates. But don’t throw in the towel entirely, send another resume with a brief cover note explaining that you’ve updated your resume–perhaps adding a new freelance or volunteer job that’s relevant to the position you’re seeking.
Finally, as I advised another writer last summer, you need to send out more than a couple dozen resumes over a six-month period if you want to produce the results you’re seeking. In that period of time, you should have sent a minimum of 24 resumes a week. The more often you go fishing, the more likely you’ll get fish to bite.