Making contacts is an important part of your job search, but following up on those contacts is equally crucial. It shows that you have initiative and a willingness to go the extra mile and it keeps your name “in play” in the minds of the people you keep in contact with.
Imagine this scenario: A job opening has two candidates, one of whom goes to the job interview and then goes home to wait for the employer to call, like a teenage girl sitting by the phone before the homecoming dance.
Meanwhile, the other candidate touches base with people he met at the interview and also sends a thank-you note to the interviewer, reiterating the strengths and positive qualities that he would bring to the job. With the first candidate out of sight, and therefore out of mind, which candidate do you imagine has a better chance of finally landing the position?
Even if the first candidate has more qualifications on paper, and perhaps even if he performs better at the interview itself, his lack of follow-up after the interview might mean the job will slip away.
If you still have not heard back from the company that you have applied for, failing to build on the contacts you made there will not help your chances of getting the job. Networking is a basic business skill, and showing that you have mastered it can make the difference in showing a company what you bring to the job.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can maintain your contacts and improve the chances to get that job:
1. Immediately after the interview (no later than two days), send a thank-you note to your interviewer. This will not only ensure that the people making hiring decisions will hear from you again, but it may make it more likely that the company will keep your resume and other materials on hand for consideration if other jobs open up.
2. Give the employer all of your contact information – home phone, cell phone, email address and “snail mail” home address – to make it as easy as possible for them to reach you.
3. Likewise, make sure that you have all the contact information for the employer and make sure you got it right. Double-check the spelling of names, addresses and phone numbers. And then double-check the names again – nothing is more insulting to an employer than getting their name wrong.
4. Alert the people you have named as references that they might be hearing from the employer. When appropriate, you might mention the qualities that you would like them to emphasize when talking about you.
5. Stay positive. If you do not get the job, send a thank-you note anyway, expressing your appreciation for taking their time to interview you. They may keep you in mind for future vacancies or may even be able to refer you to someone else who is hiring.