Last week I was asked about protocol in following up with a company after applying to a job opening. The emailer said she had applied a week ago and was wondering 1)if it was permissible to call the company, 2)who to ask for, 3)when should she follow-up, and 4)what should she say. Here we go, a soup-to-nuts answer for her.
1) Following up to an application is a great idea unless the job posting states “No phone calls”. A friend of mine who used to be an executive recruiter would always review an application of someone who called as a follow-up to an online application as it showed true interest in the job. While it did not guarantee receiving an interview, it did cause the application to receive a review.
2) Who to call is a more involved question – if there is a hiring manager/recruiter’s name attached to the job, easy, call the main line and ask to speak with that person. If it is a small company, I would recommend one research on company leadership, call the main number, and ask for the head of the department in which the job opening is housed. If you are targeting a large organization, one can always call and ask for the name of the person who is heading the XYZ position search. A contact of mine used to call, ask for HR, and inquire about who he should list on the cover letter for his application for XYZ position. Once he got the name/spelling, he would call back and ask for that person directly. Although these tactics are not 100% foolproof, you may be surprised how often they generate the information you need.
3) Timing is important, not too soon but not too late. I recommend a follow-up call within a 2-4 business-day window. This allows the recruiter/hiring manager some time to view applicants but does not allow too much time before interview decisions will be made.
4) Expect to be directed to voice mail when making follow-up phone calls – so be sure to be prepared to leave a coherent message if the opportunity arises. When I do connect with a live person, I recommend confirming that your application was received and is complete. I followed-up on one application I submitted and they had no record of it, the application was sent to an individual’s email and either he deleted it or the application was caught in a spam filter. When I forwarded my original email to the same email address, it went through and I was granted an interview. It is a good idea to ensure during the call that your application is complete – did all your materials get sent, did any attachments not make it, did you accidentally miss some questions on the application; incomplete applications are usually tossed aside.
Other generic questions that are fair are inquiring about their anticipated hiring timeline or if they have any questions about your materials. The follow-up phone call also allows you to reiterate your interest in the position and any position specific questions you may have.
A professional follow-up communicates your initiative and interest in the job. As long as one is professional and polite, only good can come from a follow-up call.