Despite conflicting opinions about the practice, following up with an email after you submit a job application is good business. Here’s how to do it confidently and correctly—thus increasing your chances of landing whatever job you applied for.
A common fear about sending follow up emails after submitting a job application is that doing so could be annoying. After all, your potential employer is busy, and she or he probably has all the applications in hand. Why do something that might cause him to pitch your application into the trash upon receipt of an email?
On the contrary, unless the employer has specified that candidates should not contact them, a follow-up email can help move your application up the pile, not down.
Why Follow Up Emails are Wise
It’s because people are busy and caught up in so many tasks that sending an email to follow up on an application is shrewd. Following up via email after you’ve turned in a job application serves multiple functions:
By contacting the hiring manager to check in on their receipt of your application, you put your name in his mind. Maybe he hasn’t even looked at the stack of applications yet. When he does, your name will ring a bell.
With your email, you stay on the company’s radar. You were nothing more than a name on a piece of paper or a PDF. Now you’re that plus a name in an email. It’s amazing how little things like name recognition have a positive impact when a company is selecting a new employee.
Making an Impression
You’ve submitted an application form that contains the same basic information as all the other completed applications. If you’ve also provided a resume, that will help your application stand out from the crowd. Another way to stand out is with an email.
When you touch base briefly to verify their receipt of your application, you’re demonstrating that you have written communication skills, you care enough about getting the job to follow up, and you have the initiative to do so.
You’re more than just a name on a screen and on paper. You’re now in 3D to them, a dimension above anyone else who did not follow up.
Your Peace of Mind
Job hunting can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. Unknowns and “what-ifs” can plague you by day and haunt you by night. So many aspects of the search are out of your control. By taking charge of what you can control, you decrease stress, increase confidence, and prepare for the interview that’s about to be scheduled.
Whether the right person received your application is only slightly out of your control. You don’t know if it was delivered to the right person or if it is lost in an irrelevant pile somewhere (or in cyberspace). That’s unnerving. A follow-up email can ease your fears and help you continue the process assured.
You have many legitimate reasons for following up after you’ve applied for a job. Keep in mind, though, that while it’s okay and even smart to do so, there’s a protocol. It’s crucial that you send the right type of email, or you risk losing the opportunity to interview. It’s not sending the email that’s a problem but rather, the problem can be the way that you do it.
Tips for Writing a Follow Up Email
Contacting your potential employer doesn’t automatically make them look upon you favorably. Following up can indeed be wise, but you must do it judiciously. These tips will help guide you.
If the company specified a notification date in your application materials, don’t email until that date has passed. Asking before the given time will make you look impatient, demanding, or unable to understand directions. Those aren’t qualities that will get you hired.
If no “hear by” date was provided, your ability to follow up is a bit more flexible; nonetheless, you don’t want to send an email too soon. Give the person doing the hiring time and space. Hiring someone for the position might not be as urgent to them as it is to you, and you don’t want to seem desperate. Wait about a week, and then send your first follow up email.
Watch What You Say
Keep your email succinct. These people are busy and don’t have time to read a wordy message. Be short and to the point.
All you’re doing is verifying that they received your application. This is not the time to add more information about yourself or beg for an interview.
Texting and social media have not done proper communication any favors. While slang, abbreviations, and emojis comprise normal communication among friends and family, they never should be part of business communication.
Your follow-up letter should be formal and professional. That means addressing your recipient as “Mr.” or “Ms.” Rather than by first name. You’re not on a first-name basis yet, and informally addressing him or her could be damaging to your application status.
Use a standard font provided in your email platform, and stick to words (as in no pictures, emojis, and gifs). Make sure you check for typos and grammatical errors. Have someone check it before you send it if you’re uncertain. Also, avoid using exclamation marks. They are unprofessional.
Remain professional throughout your message, including the closing. It’s imperative that you close your message professionally. Business closings include such words and phrases as:
- With respect
- Thank you
Don’t use a casual closing. You don’t want the last word they read from you to leave an unfavorable impression. Words to avoid are anything slang or slang-like. For example, “Thank you” is great; “Thanks” is not. See Forbes’ 57 Ways to Sign Off On an Email for more business-worthy examples.
Also, never tell them to have a nice day or that you hope all is well. These are fine (and even desirable) once you know someone. Until you have that working relationship, err on the side of formality and respectful distance.
What you say in your email is impactful. So is how you say it.
This sample message illustrates what a good follow up email looks like.
Sales Associate Application Follow-Up
Dear Mr. Smith,
Out of respect for how busy you undoubtedly are, I’ll keep this brief. I am simply verifying that you received the application I submitted for the sales associate position with Vroom and Zoom Vehicles. I would love the opportunity to join your team and connect customers and cars. I want to help customers buy your cars.
Please let me know if I can provide you with additional information or material that could be helpful to you as your progress through the hiring process.
I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.
John (or Jane) Doe
Note how this is short (the entire body, including the greeting and closing, is 101 words) and to-the-point. Applicant Doe wanted verification and asked for it straightforwardly. Doe did use the opportunity to express excitement about the job and why he or she wants it: to help customers buy cars from Vroom and Zoom Vehicles (which makes it about the company, not Doe.
This sample message provides a guideline and illustrates the major do’s and don’ts of crafting a follow-up email after you’ve submitted a job application. Feel free to use this as a template, but don’t feel stuck to it, either.
Numerous email styles follow the guidelines for professional etiquette. Hubspot, a global business leader in inbound marketing, offers free templates for follow up emails, among them follow up job application messages.
Above All, Let Your Purpose Drive Your Messages
Knowing when to send follow-up emails and how to craft them will help you communicate with confidence and increase your chances of landing that interview and then the job itself. Keep your overall purpose in mind to guide you in the process.
You don’t want to impose or be annoying. You also don’t want to get lost in the shuffle. Use these conflicting desires to spur you into action. Send that letter, and do it in a way that is professional and respectful.
Presumably, your purpose is to get hired for a job you would enjoy. With all the competition today, it’s prudent to show your future employer that you stand above the rest. Completing an application and then following up in about a week speaks volumes about you. It shows that you are dedicated, motivated, and self-directed. These are assets a company looks for in its employees.
Follow the guidelines discussed above when composing your message, and you’ll further show that you communicate well. Communication skills are sometimes lacking. Use the email to show them that you are a master communicator.
Think of your follow up message as a bridge between the application and the interview. It’s a vital part of the job-acquisition process, one that you don’t want to skip.