As I talk with many candidates, the biggest frustration I hear is that there is no response to resumes they send out. Although many have worked hard to develop a large contact list, targeted specific companies of interest and have a specific system or plan in place to send out resumes, I find most do not follow up on sent resumes.

When I ask the question, “Have you followed up with them?” I usually get the deer in the head light stare, as if the thought is a new concept.

Don’t expect the contacts, networking acquaintances, recruiters, HR department or hiring managers to contact you. It probably won’t happen. I spoke with someone last week that had applied for a particular position and was complaining she had once again, gotten no response,  so I suggested she give them a call. Later that day I received a call from the woman saying she did contact the company and found out that for the two positions available they had receive over 400 resumes. The company also said it would be several weeks before they began interviews.

Knowing what to expect and when decisions will be made helps job seekers with the frustration of the unknown. With only 2-3% of resumes being followed-up on, this job seeker would have missed an opportunity to stand out from the hundreds of candidates that blended in with the crowd and didn’t following up. In our conversation the woman admitted she usually didn’t follow up because she felt uncomfortable contacting the companies and so we discussed how to follow up and make an impact.

The easiest and fastest route is to call to the contact you sent the resume to. Usually a response time of five to six business days is acceptable if there isn’t a specific date deadline already given in the job description. If calling is not an option I would send an email note with your resume attached. Whether on the phone or sending an email try and include a few questions and express your genuine interest in the position such as:

  • Conveying your interest in the position and company with a short reason on why you want to work for them, be authentic and real when speaking with them.
  • Finding out what the next step is, when interviews will be taking place and when you should contact them again.
  • Asking how many applicants have applied so far so you have an idea of the odds.
  • Giving your name at least one time in the conversation to help them remember your name or at least make it familiar to them.
  • Determining if there is anything additional they are looking for in the candidate. If they are responsive you may have a few minutes to sell yourself to them based on what the company is looking for – make sure to do your homework before calling.
  • Thanking them again for their time.

The conversation should last no more than five or ten minutes, so you don’t take up their valuable time. It may feel awkward at first, but like anything it will get easier with practice. With people being so busy and the employment arena being so competitive, following up on sent resumes is a must.

Shine on jobseekers!

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Ed Han · July 26, 2010 at 9:02 am

Good advice, it’s astonishing to me how many people do not know to follow-up. I do have a question: how might one go about following-up when there is no contact information (e.g., organization’s web site)?

    The ResumeWonders Blog · July 27, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Sometimes Ed, it is not possible to follow up if you find the job description on a job board. When there is a website listed you can be creative and curious and use tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Google to gather information before sending the initial resume/application and for follow up.

    When the company name isn’t available you can use the same tools to try and figure out the company based on the location, industry, product line, company size and the description of the job. If you can narrow the company list down for the position I would then check each company to see if the same position is available in the Careers/Jobs section on their website.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and following me on Twitter!

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