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The art of the follow-up email: When to send it and what to say

If you’re in the market for a new job like half of the working population, knowing when and how often to follow up can be critical to securing a new position.

Sending a follow-up email after an interview is a rule of thumb, says Jill Tipograph, co-founder of Early Stage Careers.

“Make sure you send an appropriate thank you communication no later than 24 hours after the interview,” Tipograph says. “Reiterate what you’re going to bring to the table, and that you look forward to next steps.”

According to a survey by TopResume, 68% of hiring managers said failing to follow up could jeopardize whether or not you get the job. Yet one-third of job candidates said they don’t send a thank you email.

In addition to a customized note to everyone at the company who interviewed you, the waiting game that follows requires patience and persistence. Networking expert Karen Wickre told Yahoo Finance it can take six email attempts to get a response. You can, of course, spread out your emails to different people at the company, like the HR contact who scheduled your interview, or other contacts you might have tapped for information leading up to your interview.

However, Tipograph cautions that there’s a fine line when it comes to being too persistent.

“It's important to be persistent in your follow-up but not to be annoying,” she says. “Typically it's a good idea to follow up within a week afterwards if you haven't heard from them, but at that point in time you may want to start thinking about an alternate strategy to figure out what's the next step.”

Being strategic about when to follow up can also increase the rate of response. The best day of the week to send an email is Tuesday – the average open rate is 20% higher than other days of the week, according to a study by Mailchimp. The later you get in the week, the less likely you are to hear back.

Tipograph recommends finding a contact at the company who can put in a good word. While it’s helpful to know the person, tactics like cold emailing can help you get your foot in the door.

In case things don’t go your way, Tipograph recommends having other options ready: “It is very important to be focusing on the next opportunity at the same time that you may be moving ahead in terms of a job search,” Tipograph says. “Always keep your eye on future opportunities.”

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