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How to Follow-Up on a Job Application (And Should You?!)

Caroline BantonUpdated Oct 13, 20216 min

How to Follow-Up on a Job Application (And Should You?!)

Updated Oct 13, 20216 min
How to Follow-Up on a Job Application (And Should You?!)

How to Follow-Up on a Job Application (And Should You?!)

Caroline BantonUpdated Oct 13, 20216 min

How to Follow-Up on a Job Application (And Should You?!)

Updated Oct 13, 20216 min
How to Follow-Up on a Job Application (And Should You?!)

Is following up on a job application a waste of time? Certainly not. Technology makes mistakes, you make mistakes, and so do recruiters. If your application is not received, or if it is received but lost in the shuffle, you’ve lost an opportunity. So, it’s best to do what you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

This article gives three good reasons why you should follow up on a job application. It explains when to do it and when it may not be appropriate to. We show you how to follow up on a new job, what to write in a follow-up letter or email, and provide email templates that you can tailor for your job search.

Three Reasons to Follow Up on a Job Application

Perhaps your application glitched and went to spam, perhaps the applicant tracking system weeded it out because of a formatting issue. Here’s three good reasons job seekers should follow up.

  1. If you’ve already invested the time to apply, you might as well go the whole hog and make sure it is being considered.

  2. You are showing concern, and following up indicates enthusiasm. That might just be enough to get the recruiter’s attention.

  3. If an initial screening of applicants didn’t yield the expected results, a timely follow-up from you could catapult you to the top of the interview pile.

When Is the Best Time to Follow Up on a Job Application?

Don’t follow up on your application for at least a week. Allow enough time so that you don't come across as either insane or desperate—neither will get you the job. 

The timeline from application to interviews is typically around two weeks for most companies. Therefore, if you haven’t heard anything within a week, you can follow up at that point.

Here’s how to follow up.

How to Follow up on a Job Application

If you were given an email address for your application. Try emailing that person first. Another strategy is to look at the company’s LinkedIn page or the company website and look for the hiring manager's name. Try to get their direct contact by calling the company. 

Don’t message through the LinkedIn platform. You could also call human resources directly and ask who the hiring manager is and if you could have their phone number or contact information.

Don’t fear that you will appear pushy if you follow up. In fact, you are likely to be perceived as thorough and enthusiastic about the job.

What to Write in Your Follow-up Email

You could write a simple email asking if your application has been received. However, you stand a better chance of your follow-up attracting attention if you ask other questions too. One strategy when you follow up is to ask a question about the hiring process or the job itself. Asking these types of questions increases the chances that the hiring team might seek out your original application for a second, or first, look.

For example, you might ask how long they expect the hiring process to take, request clarification on the job description, or ask the next steps. 

You could also add some additional information in your email, again, to draw attention. State the job title you applied for, when you applied, and where you saw the job posting. Reiterate why you think you are the best person for the job and emphasize your enthusiasm to your potential employer.

Here’s an example of a follow-up email.

Email subject line: Application for Data Manager

Dear [Hiring manager's name]

I am contacting you regarding the position of Data Manager that you posted recently on [state job board or job listing source]. I wanted to check that you had received my application submitted on [insert date of application], and also to ask if you know the expected timeline for the application process? 

I believe that my experience with [insert highly relevant skill] makes me an ideal candidate and the right person for this role. I would be delighted to have the opportunity to discuss how I can be of value to [company xyz].

I attach my resume and cover letter. Please let me know if I can provide you with any other details.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,

[Your name]

What if you have a job offer with another company but prefer to work for the company you have not heard back from? In this case, you are in a strong position. You should email the company, tell them the situation, and they might fast-track your application.

Here’s a sample email to send in this case.

Email subject line: Application for Data Manager

Dear [Hiring manager's name]

I am contacting you regarding the position of Data Manager that you posted on [state job board or job listing source] recently. I wanted to check that you had received my application submitted on [insert data] and also to ask if you know the expected timeline for the interview process. 

I have received an offer from another company in New York, but my preference would be to pursue the data manager position with your organization if my candidacy is being considered. 

I believe that my experience with [highly relevant skill] makes me an ideal candidate for this role and would be delighted to have the opportunity to discuss how I can be of value to [Company name].

Please let me know at your earliest convenience if I am being considered. I attach my resume and cover letter and would be happy to provide you with any other details.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,

[Your name]

Pro Tip: Only send one follow-up email. If you don’t get a reply, it’s time to move on.

Should You Follow-Up by Phone Call?

It’s not a good idea to follow up by phone or to leave a voicemail. Imagine a hiring manager who receives 100 applications to a position. If all of the applicants call him to follow up, that manager is not going to have much time to review their documents.

Pro Tip: One exception to this rule is the retail industry or other situations where the hiring manager is tasked with other things. For example, if you have applied to a manager position at a retail store, it is acceptable to follow up by phone.

Mistakes to Avoid When Following Up

Don’t make these mistakes when you follow up. If you do, you will jeopardize your application rather than encourage it.

  • Don’t write a long email. Keep it short and to the point.

  • Don't follow up too soon. Wait at least a week.

  • Don’t send more than one follow-up. If you don’t hear back within a week of sending the first follow-up—move on.

  • Don’t follow up using social media or by phone (unless it is a retail position).

  • Don’t forget to proofread your email for typos.

Job application follow-up can seem like a balance between seeming too pushy and appearing as if you don’t really care. Follow the advice in this article, and you will be doing your due diligence and maximizing your chances of landing a job interview. Bottom line—not following up could mean another candidate will take your dream job. Go for it!

When Not to Follow-Up on a Job Application 

You should not follow up on a job application if the job posting says not to. It’s common that once you send in your application online or by email, you receive an automatic reply informing you that your application has been received. 

The reply may also instruct you not to follow up. Heed that advice. If you don’t, forget about applying to that organization ever again. If you heed the advice, you can always reapply at a later date.

Caroline Banton
Expert on career acceleration and business topics with vast experience writing for globally-recognized publications
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