It’s common knowledge a job seeker should follow up after an interview, but did you know it can be extremely helpful to follow up on your job application, too? It can be nerve-wracking to be the first one to establish contact after the faceless online job application process, but standing out from other candidates early on makes a huge difference. Knowing how to follow up on a job application increases your chances of getting hired.
How do I submit the best online job application?
Don’t apply to multiple jobs at the same company all at once or apply for the same position multiple times. It creates the perception you’re just mass applying and might not be qualified for any of the roles.
Apply with an ATS-friendly resume. If you haven’t heard back, your resume might have ended up in application limbo. Make sure your resume is optimized for applicant tracking systems with our resume comparison tool:
How do I find the right person?
One of the hardest parts of following up during the application process is figuring out who to follow up with. It’s common to reach a recruiter before a hiring manager and that’s fine — corporate recruiters have the connections to move you forward in the interview process.
Check your network
If you have connections at the company, reach out to them. Ask about the company and its culture, if they know much about the role or team you’re interested in, and find out if they can give you a personal introduction to the point of contact for the role you’re interested in.
Check the application
It’s rare to see an application that lists contact information anymore. A lot of the time a job description will at least list a team or department or even the title that the role reports to.
Examples of “reports to” mentions from real job postings.
Check the website
Part of thoroughly learning about the company is reading over their website. Use that research to look over staff pages and find appropriate contacts. Narrow it down to one or two people.
LinkedIn is a great place for company research. Go to the company’s page and select “see all employees on LinkedIn.” From here you can also see if you have any connections that already work at the company.
You can also use LinkedIn’s search with the company name and keywords associated with the role, team, or department. Learn how to use LinkedIn’s search operators to refine your search even further.
How long should I wait to follow up on a job application?
Usually there’s a reason why it can take a little while to hear back from a company. There’s a lot of moving pieces in the hiring process and open roles change quickly. Recruiters usually won’t follow up immediately so that their company doesn’t seem desperate. If a candidate isn’t a fit, some recruiters find it rude to rapidly reject their applications.
Lizbeth Hernandez, Jobscan’s internal recruiter, says that “Anything between 5 to 7 days is a good time period to reach out to me,” and notes that her own reply time to candidates varies depending on business needs.
After you’ve followed up initially, follow up a second time, about a week later. Don’t repeat what you did the first time; try reaching out at a different time of the day and day of the week, with a new format and subject.
How often should I follow up on a job application?
One or two communications, spaced about a week apart, is enough. Megan Spurr, Senior Group Lead Social Media Manager for Microsoft (Xbox & Social AI) and hiring manager warns, “When I see the same applicant’s name in my inbox […], I feel like they might be a little more needy than I am looking in a candidate.”
You might feel annoying when following up but it’s okay to follow up on an application submitted online as long as you’re respectful, polite, and considerate throughout the process. Don’t spam your contact or reach out to everyone associated with the company.
Should I follow up by phone or email?
You might be tempted to call the company’s front desk and directly ask for the manager of the department. But in modern times when most communication is done digitally and phone calls are often scheduled; out-of-the-blue calls do more harm than good.
Hernandez finds unscheduled phone calls distracting: “I’d be really caught off guard if anybody reached out to me via phone. I might be working on one thing, so I have to shift gears at a moment’s notice. I’m not in the best state to answer it.”
Email is the best method of reaching out to follow up, because you can demonstrate how interested you are in the role but also be respectful of your contact’s time.
It’s also best for you — as Spurr says, “It’s the best way for me to group my tasks and make sure that I sort things to complete!”
Never follow up on a job application in person unannounced. It’s invasive and aggressive, especially early in the application process.
How do I write a follow-up email for a job application?
Reaching out to a potential employer can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Be polite, empathic, and friendly. “As an in-house recruiter,” Hernandez says, “These will be people we’ll be working with. Aggressive or rude [communication] moves me away from them.”
Personalize your communications. Don’t sound formulaic or like you’re working from a script or template. Here’s a few examples of how to start the conversation:
- “I applied for [position] online but also wanted to personally connect and introduce myself.”
- “I’m checking on the status of my application because I’m really interested in [company] and excited about [position].”
- “I’ve been looking for a role that fits me at [company] for awhile, so I was so excited to apply for [role]. I’d love to discuss more about how my [experience] can help [company] with [position and/or company goals] further.”
- “I applied for [position] and was wondering if there’s anything else on my end that I can provide.”
- “I wanted to make sure you received my application because my background is a great match for what you’re looking for in the [position].”
The most important thing is to make it clear that you’re excited about the role as well as interested and educated about the company.
“I am more interested in the candidates that tell me why they are interested in the role, rather than a general ‘Please look at my resume and let me know if you have any questions’ communication,” advises Spurr.
Hernandez agrees, “I don’t like ‘Hey, I applied.’ It’s not cognizant or thoughtful.’”
Use what you learn about the company’s culture during your research to align your communication tone.
How do I stand out when following up?
In this early stage there’s a lot you can do to demonstrate your value and stand out from other applicants.
Do your research on the company, their values, and their product or services. Being able to speak fluently about areas where you’re a great fit and what you like about the company demonstrates your excitement for the role. Most companies want eager evangelists, not just warm bodies.
Do the work for them. Tie together your experience with the needs of the role. Hone your pitch into a brief but informative snippet. Make sure it’s straightforward and clear how you’re a fit for the role, using direct experience where you can.
If you’re not sure where to start, in a roundabout way you can even ask your contact. Spurr says, “The candidates that have stood out to me […] asked me what they might be able to do to move into a position like this.”
Demonstrations of your skills will make you stand out, especially if you’re generous with them. Hernandez relates a story where a designer candidate reached out to her. He’d taken the time to look over the Jobscan website and offered to set up a phone call to give her some professional redesign suggestions, free of charge. “He offered to do that even before I reached out to interview him,” Hernandez says. “It definitely made him stand out a lot.”
Following up early in the application process might be a scary idea. But don’t let that stop you from making a difference, standing out, and ingratiating yourself with a potential employer before any other candidate even steps foot into an interview.
How to follow up on a job application
- Use the job description, the company website, and LinkedIn to determine the right point of contact.
- Follow up about a week after your original application. If you don’t hear back, follow up a week later.
- Follow up on your application with a friendly and polite email.
- Make a good impression by being informed about the company, connecting your experience to the job’s needs, and providing a demonstration of your skills.