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5 Rules of the Employment Follow-Up

Robin Reshwan

You saw the perfect job posted online. You customized your résumé, wrote a great cover letter and then submitted via the process that was outlined in the posting. A day goes by. A week goes by. A month goes by -- but you never received a response. You don't want to bother the employer, but how do you get information you need? These tips will help you successfully navigate the employment follow-up.

1. Verify the receipt of your application. With the vast array of email providers and anti-virus software, it is highly possible that your résumé may have been directed to a spam folder. After you press send, contact the company within the next day to verify that your application was received. If a contact name or number is not provided, you can contact a main phone number and ask for the number for the hiring department, human resources, talent acquisition, recruiting or employment.

2. Ask about the process. If you are able to speak to a real human (instead of a voice mail) when you are calling to verify receipt of your job materials, ask for more details regarding the intended screening process. Responses to questions like, "Can you provide any additional details regarding the screening process?" and "When may be a good time to follow up regarding the status of my application?" can help you set realistic expectations. Some companies may make decisions within days but others may take weeks. Knowing how a specific role will be handled will assist in creating an effective follow-up plan.

3. When in doubt, be politely persistent. If you were unable to get information regarding the hiring process, send a follow-up email with your résumé five to seven days after you submitted your original application. The message with this email makes all the difference. You should avoid blaming the hiring authority for not responding the first time and you should make it easy for them to contact you. The best correspondence acknowledges your continued interest in the role. The key is to continue the conversation versus emphasizing that you have not heard back. For example, "The customer service manager opportunity at X company brings together my five years of directly related management experience and my commitment to transform the customer service process in the manufacturing industry. I welcome the opportunity to discuss how my background may be match for your needs. I have attached my résumé for easy reference. Thank you, in advance, for your response."

4. Look for changes. As employers receive responses to online job postings, they may make updates to the job description if necessary. Use this opportunity to reaffirm that your background is still a match and that you remain interested. Additionally, the company LinkedIn page, Facebook site, Twitter account or website may show upcoming events or new products/services. Use these updates as a reason to correspond with recruiters -- especially if the changes may be relevant to the role you are pursuing. In doing so, you are accomplishing two important things. First, you keep your candidacy top of mind. Second, you display that you are knowledgeable about the department, company or industry. Communicating your attention to detail and that you go beyond a typical job seeker are great ways to distinguish yourself.

5. Don't give up. Many hiring managers and recruiters have multiple competing priorities. It is highly possible that if you didn't receive a rejection response and you still see the position posted several weeks or months after your original application, the role may still be open. If you are still interested, repeat No. 3. The role may have just been put on the back burner. Your ongoing communication may be the boost you need to move to the top of the list when the focus returns. At this point, you have nothing to lose. Without a round of follow up, you will never know if you weren't a viable candidate or you just got lost in a mound of email.

There is fortune in the follow-up. The art of a politely persistent follow-up is what distinguishes high-performing employees in every job function from those that just wait for things to fall in their lap. It makes perfect sense that employers will respond well to a job seeker that exhibits this skill since it is so professionally relevant. Here's to following up on the things you want for your career in 2014.

Robin Reshwan is the founder of Collegial Services, a consulting/staffing firm that connects college students, recent graduates and the organizations that hire them and a certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE). She has interviewed, placed and hired thousands of people across a broad spectrum of companies and industries. Her career tips and advice are used by universities, national clubs/associations and businesses. A Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Robin has been honored as a Professional Business Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as a Regents Scholar from University of California, Davis.

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