3 minute read

Follow-Up Letter Follies

To Follow Up Or Not To Follow Up

Job Seeker's Story

Bob, an experienced Computer Engineer, secured an interview with a highly sought-after company based on his great credentials listed in his résumé. However, in the interview, he was shy and nervous, and just could not seem to express himself well. The interview ended poorly and Bob left discouraged.

Bob discussed his lackluster interview performance with a professional résumé writer who recommended a thank-you letter to try to save the situation. Bob questioned whether that would really have any impact. Further, he was so embarrassed about the interview, he wondered what he could even say to recapture the employer's interest. Together, Bob and the résumé writer crafted a two-page letter that contained many salient points that Bob wished he had made in the interview. Because he had not brought letters of recommendation to the interview, they decided to enclose one that glowingly described his skills and accomplishments.

Early the next week, Bob was asked in for a second interview. He was relieved to have gotten that far in the interview process, and was much more at ease. Everything went smoothly and he ultimately ended up being offered, and accepting, the job. Bob found out much later that his employer initially thought he must have falsified his résumé and application because he had performed done so poorly in the interview. However, after receiving Bob's thank-you letter, the employer did reference checking and gave him another chance in a second interview, where he proved himself.

Imagine if Bob had not followed up! He certainly would not have landed his job with this employer, and the hit to his self-esteem would likely have damaged his future interview efforts.

Job Seeker's Stumble

Many job-seekers miss out on a golden opportunity for further self-marketing by not sending a follow-up letter. According to a 2008 survey by Accountemps of 1,000 executives polled from multiple disciplines (including human resources, marketing, and finance), 88 percent of executives asserted that sending a thank-you letter after an interview can boost a candidate's chances. But, whether due to excessive self-confidence, time constraints, or even embarrassment (as in Bob's case), the majority of job seekers do not follow up after an interview with a thank-you letter. Even fewer candidates use the follow-up letter effectively as a vehicle to entice the employer to move on to the next step: the job offer!

Job Seeker's New Strategy

If you think of the interview process in stages, the post-interview phase can be even more critical in generating a job offer than the actual interview. Why would you spend time researching the company and position, practicing interview responses to probable questions, and navigating a highly stressful situation such as an interview, and then let the final outcome be determined by the employer's ever-fading memory of you? That would be similar to preparing months for a 10K marathon race, and then dropping out before the final mile.

Refresh the employer's memory of your exceptional candidacy by creating and sending (within 24 hours) a thank-you letter that reinforces your top-of-mind status, overcomes potential objections, and makes it easy for the employer to see a high return-on-investment (ROI) for hiring you. According to the survey mentioned previously, 52 percent of executives polled preferred to receive a hand-written thank-you; 44 percent preferred an e-mail follow-up after the interview. Why not do both? Send the email thank-you first, followed by a well-thought-out thank-you letter that briefly and clearly overcomes any objections that might have been raised in the interview and reminds the interviewer of your points of differentiation and value.

Send a separate and customized thank-you letter to every person who interviewed you; they may compare notes! Continue to follow up periodically to check on the status of your candidacy. Find opportunities to build increasing evidence that you are really the only candidate worth serious consideration and bring that to the interviewer(s) attention. Send follow-up articles and/or tidbits of information you have found that demonstrate your knowledge of the industry and latest trends, as well as your willingness to share that information with others on your team.

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Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsFollow-Up Letter Follies - Creativity Goes Over The Top And Out The Door, Do Not Shoot Yourself In The Foot