When Should I Follow-Up?
From Career Tips, 2021 Volume 5, May 2021
This is a question that should rarely come up.
Why do I say that? Because if you are following best practices, you should have decided on your follow-up action and date ahead of time.
When I'm asked this about an interview, I generally respond, "When did you say you would follow-up?" And often I get a blank stare.
Establishing a follow-up date and telling the hiring manager when you will do that should be the final step in any interview. This is part of the process of showing professional persistence, and increases the odds of getting the offer.
So what do you do now, if you neglected to do that then?
If you haven't yet sent your thank you letter, end the letter with a statement like "I'm very interested in this job, and will follow up with you on March 31 if I haven't heard by then."
If you already sent your thank you, then decide what date you will to follow-up, and mark your calendar. Then focus on other things until then.
"But on what date?", you ask.
Of course you made sure to ask what would be the next step in the process, and when the employer expects to take that action, right?
If you didn't do that either, you really need to work on your interview strategy. Go back to my set of short videos on the 3 things you must do at the end of every interview.
If you don't have an understanding of when the employer expects to take the next step to guide you, then pick a date 2 weeks from the interview. If it's already been 2 weeks, then call now.
Follow a similar approach in your networking activities.
When you make outreach to someone to set a meeting, and leave a voice mail or email, include when you will follow up if you haven't heard from them. When you have a call or meeting, let them know when you will next reach out. This might be in a week, if they promised to take some action on your behalf, or might be a month or two if this is a more casual networking connection. Then mark your calendar.
In fact, if you want to really get professional about this, set up a good reminder system, and then go through your entire network and set dates you would like to follow up with each person.
For many, it might just be on birthdays, work anniversaries and personal anniversaries, and for that you may even be able to rely on Facebook and LinkedIn for most reminders. But for more critical contacts, you will want to be following up more regularly, and a reminder system will help organize that for you.
This may seem like a pain in the neck, but you really only have to go through the effort to set it up once. After that, just get in the habit that every time you have a significant contact with someone, you immediately decide when would be the next time to follow up, put that that in your reminder system, and then forget about it.