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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Follow through on the follow-up

By Shannon Jackson
Special to The Toronto Sun

When asked for the top 10 things hiring managers look for in their ideal candidate, employers rated communication and organizational skills in their top five. These competencies are a critical success factor in almost every position within almost any industry.

When you are job searching, your communication and organizational abilities are being measured, both formally (through interview and assessments) and informally (through observation) throughout every stage of the job search process.

Effective follow-up is essential to job search success, and is a fantastic way to demonstrate your communication and organizational competencies. Interestingly, it is also the part of the process many job seekers overlook.

As the national recruitment manager of a leading staffing company, I received calls almost daily from candidates asking, "I sent my resume, did you get it?" When I'd ask where, when, how, and to whom they'd submitted their resume, the reply was, inevitably, "I dunno."

Needless to say, this interaction would not inspire confidence in the job seeker's communication or organizational skills!

At least, however, these candidates had attempted follow-up. I am even more surprised by the volumes of job seekers who submit their resume, and assume that if the company were interested in them, they'd be contacted.

The most successful job seekers are those who chose to own their job search, and initiate the communication with a recruiter or hiring manager through on-going, professional follow-up.

Some Tips:
  • Begin a log book where you record all resume submissions -- record where, how, when, to whom and for what position you've applied.
  • Follow-up with a phone call (and be prepared to leave a voicemail) within one or two days of sending your resume.

    Say something like: "My name is Shannon Jackson, and I submitted my resume to you by e-mail on July 22nd for your advertised recruitment position. I just wanted to confirm that you've received my resume, and to see if there is anything I can provide to further support my candidacy."
  • Once you get someone on the phone, ask about his/her preferences for follow-up.

    Say something like: "I am very interested in this and other opportunities for which you may be hiring, and would really like to keep in contact with you. Do you prefer I follow up by phone or e-mail, and how often would you like me to connect with you?"

    Record their preferences in your log-book, and be sure to follow up as directed.
  • At the end of an interview, you will be given the opportunity to ask questions. Ask the above stated question (if you hadn't already) about form and frequency of contact, and stick to that schedule.
  • After a face-to-face interview, a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to send a handwritten thank-you note, thanking the interviewer for their time, and reinforcing your interest in the position. (Over the last several years, I've met well over 2,000 job seekers, and have received about 12 thank-you cards. Interestingly, years later, I can still name the candidates who sent them!)

    Good luck in your search!

    (Shannon Jackson is a hiring expert, with more than seven years experience recruiting for Fortune 500 companies across Canada.)

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