Warming Up to Cold Calls: Follow Up Strategies for the Job Search

By Sharon Fleshman

So you’ve just come back from that career fair or employer presentation and you’re staring at a bunch of business cards. Or you’ve completed the application for that position on the company website and you hit the “Submit” button.  Now what?

Find ways to connect. Email those who spoke with you at a given recruiting event, making note of what you appreciated about your conversation and highlighting your most relevant qualifications. If you’ve applied to a position online, you can send a concise and thoughtful email a day or two later, indicating that you have already applied, but want to reiterate your interest in the organization and the position.  If the online application did not allow for a cover letter, you can attach one to the email, along with your resume.

Using email for follow up (at least to start) gives you a chance to think about what to say and how to say it.  It also allows recruiters, who tend to be out and about, the flexibility to respond to you at their convenience.  If you eventually make a phone call, a previously sent email will give you a handy point of reference.  However, there are times when you can’t track down an email address or even the name of an appropriate contact person.   Assuming the job description doesn’t say “NO PHONE CALLS”, it may be time for you to pick up the phone, even if it’s just to ask for a name and email address of the most appropriate person to contact.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for phone follow up:

Be professional and polite.  Make sure you call from a quiet place without distractions. Initially, you will likely reach the “gatekeeper” of the office and will need to ask to be connected to the right recruiting contact, whether by phone or email. Not only should you be courteous, but you should also try to pick up on cues. For instance, if you sense that the person to whom you are speaking is swamped, ask if there is a better time to call or if email is preferable.   If the person is reluctant to provide the recruiter’s contact information, graciously inquire whether he or she can forward your message to the recruiter.  Regardless of the outcome, thank the person for his or her time.

Be prepared and purposeful.  For the most part, you need to be able to introduce yourself and your reason for calling as concisely as possible. Don’t call to ask questions for which there are answers easily found on the organization’s website.  Make it apparent that you have done your preliminary research before your inquiry.   If you reach someone’s voicemail, you will need to leave a clear and concise message; write a script ahead of time if necessary.  You also want to be ready in case a call turns into an impromptu interview. Have your resume on hand so that you can discuss your qualifications on the spot.

If you’d like to discuss follow up strategies further, remember that advisors at Career Services are available to help.

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