I'm starting a new, on-occasion piece within this blog called "Worth IT" - tips on things that are distinctly un-fun but are, well, worth it. Today's Worth IT is on the different kinds of following up:
The "You Should Interview Me" Follow-Up. Once you submit your resume for an opening, it's critical to manage it before it ends up in some sort of black hole. Do not assume you are so qualified that you will get a call - even if you have an inside connection. Give them a week to get back to you. (I recommend your initial cover letter take an assertive tone, closing with, "I will call next Thursday to arrange a meeting." Then, if you haven't heard from them already, call next Thursday.) Note: once is plenty - within the first three or four. Do not stalk.
The "Getting-to-Yes" Follow-Up. In a chapter in the famous book on negotiation Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher points out that in any negotiation the negotiators are people first. A job search is a kind of (often excruciatingly) protracted negotiation process. The crucial stage of this process is the interview and what you do afterward. It astounds me how many recruiters and other job-search experts tell me people often fail to follow up with a thank-you note after the interview. Let me try my hand at conveying the importance of the post-interview follow-up: YOU GOTTA SAY "THANK YOU."
People differ on whether or not you send a handwritten or typed note. Personally, I believe the thank-you is a business letter (i.e. typed and professional in tone). Regardless of your format, sincerity is key. This should be easy to convey if you go by Fisher's observation that you are dealing with human beings. In that light, each person who interviewed you deserves a customized thank-you letter. This person gave you time that they didn't have to give you (and perhaps was hard to scrounge up). The person spent that time sharing information with you about the company and the job and listened as you made a case for yourself. Unless you were raised by wolves, these two facts alone should tip you off to send a note - on paper, by post. If these people had cooked you dinner you'd send a thank-you note, right? What's the difference between that and the interview?
The "Evel Knievel" Follow-Up. You didn't get the job. But, you learn, neither did anyone else - yet. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? (I'm thinking there's still time to get that job.) Alternatively, you're so enterprising that you want to let them know you're interested in other possible opportunities in the future.
I call this the "Evel Knievel" because it's a daring move that only the most dedicated would pull. Here's a word to the wise, however: Do not treat this as a "stunt." This is simply another step in a process that most would have considered over by now. Needless to say it's so much easier if you had a good rapport with those you've met. Address a note or e-mail to the HR person and cc the hiring manager. It should be brief and along the lines of the following:
We met in when I was one among the finalists interviewing for Opening X. Although I was not selected for the position, my interest in joining your team remains strong. [Note: This is a fantastic space to mention something positive about the company you read in the news.] I am touching base to find out what your plans are for expanding your senior IT staff.
As you may remember, my background includes [YOUR BACKGROUND IN LESS THAN A SENTENCE]. Since our meeting, I have [DONE SOMETHING WORTH NOTING, SUCH AS TAKEN A CLASS OR COMPLETED A MAJOR PROJECT].
I have recently updated my resume, enclosed here for your reference. If you see a fit for any future opportunities, please contact me any time at (555) 123-4567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time.
Actually, there may be one sense in which you could treat this as a stunt: by just going for it. As the late stuntman once said, "I think I coulda landed on a dime. I really do."