Should I send a follow up email for a job application?
September 12, 2012 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Should I send a follow-up email for a job I applied for?

Pretty much every job I've had in the last 25 years I've found through friends or personal networks. Now here I am at the age of 45 applying for jobs with no personal connection, and I'm not sure how best to approach it.

I emailed my resume and cover letter about 3 weeks ago for a job I'm really interested in. Their deadline for applications was the end of last week. I just received a generic email "to all applicants" saying they're now reviewing them and will create a short list for interviews within a couple of weeks.

Should I send a response to that? And if so, what should I do to express my interest again without appearing desperate?

The job is with a small (4-5 person) non-profit. I fit their requirements very well. The application was sent to (and today's email was from) the executive director, there's no HR department. The ad said no phone calls.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It would be fine to follow up once, politely, but realize that you are much more likely to hurt yourself by doing this badly than to help yourself by doing this well.

I really like Allison Green's blog,'s her take:
Realistically, the way to stand out at this stage isn't by having an overly aggressive, rules-don't-apply-to-me, pay-attention-to-me-now approach. Instead, you'll stand out by being a highly qualified candidate, writing a great cover letter, and being responsive, thoughtful, and enthusiastic.

However, it's fine to follow up once—in an unobtrusive manner—to underscore your interest. You can do that not by calling, but by sending a quick email saying something like this: "I submitted my application for your __ position last week, and I just wanted to make sure my materials were received. I also want to reiterate my interest in the position; I think it might be a great match, and I'd love to talk with you about it when you're ready to begin scheduling interviews." That highlights your interest without interrupting the employer or demanding an immediate response.


Best of luck! And try not to count on any one job too much, despite your interest.
posted by _Silky_ at 2:53 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you could send a brief reply, like, "Thank you! I am very interested in the position and look forward to hearing from you." But they already sent you a status update and said they would contact you, so I don't think you can do any more followup than that. Then I would wait at least a month before thinking about following up again.
posted by chickenmagazine at 3:11 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

The more you write, the more of their time you are asking for, and consequently the more relevant to them it had better be. In this case the benefits of a long email flow to you, not them, so you're asking for a gift of their time to boost your own chances. With this in mind I recommend a twelve-word response:

"Great -- very excited about this position and look forward to hearing back."

This accomplishes your goal of identifying you as an enthusiastic candidate, which is useful information for both parties. It's respectful of the receiver's attention, requiring the absolute minimum of effort and time, and demonstrates that you understand how to interact with busy people (i.e. concisely and only when necessary). Also, it signals that you are not going to be a nuisance and that you are going to wait to hear back rather than following up every three days. The common theme is to recognize that professionals communicate only when there is a mutual need for it and to act appropriately.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:12 PM on September 12, 2012

If you got a generic reply, don't follow up. Follow up in a few weeks if you haven't heard, but you heard from them about what's happening. There's no more information for awhile.
posted by xingcat at 3:14 PM on September 12, 2012

Don't. They've already told you what's next. Either you'll make the cut for interviews or you won't. Another email will not tip you into the interview pile.
posted by Etrigan at 3:15 PM on September 12, 2012

As an employer, I tend to agree with what anonymous said about a very simple and brief thank you with reiteration of your interest. I think the importance of that is to show you are very keen about and focused on this particular job and not just throwing resumes everywhere and waiting passively. Rather you are waiting proactively. Employers like engaged, conscientious, proactive, focused, tuned in employees, and the simple letter that anonymous suggested says that about you. Good luck!
posted by Dansaman at 3:58 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

No follow up. Were it me, I would likely smell the stink of desperation rather than enthusiasm.
Save it for after your interview. The best notes I got were brief, polite and mentioned one specific thing from the interview.
posted by plinth at 5:57 PM on September 12, 2012

For what it's worth, I have better success in getting interviews when I follow up two or three weeks later; a short and generic email underscoring your interest puts your name on their radar again.
posted by prior at 8:24 AM on September 13, 2012

Yeah, no. If you got a generic e-mail from their HR-Bot, then no, no need to follow that up.

If you got it from an actual person, then a quick note to that person is okay (but probably won't do you much good.)

Dear Lisa,

Great, looking forward to hearing from you soon.


If they're interested, they will call. If they're not, you'll get the generic brush-off soon enough.

FWIW, my hit to resume submission ratio was about 1:50. It's a rough market out there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:28 AM on September 13, 2012

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