You’ve Submitted Your Application– Now What?

March 13, 2012 by Careerminds

Once the stress of finding open job positions, writing cover letters and resumes, and completing applications is over, the stress of waiting for a response sets in. You may begin to wonder what they’re doing with that time– how many other applications are they sorting through? Has yours been set aside or are you still in the running? Is it possible that they’re actually moments away from calling to set up an interview? To calm your nerves and to possible find out just what is going on, you may feel it necessary and/or appropriate to follow up on your application by means of a phone call or an email.
Follow-up is fairly standard practice– it’s recommended much of the time– but some standards do apply to ensure that your follow-up is appropriate and effective.

  • First and foremost, don’t be too aggressive. Depending on the company or position, there may be hundreds of applications for an employer to sort through, and a phone call may be unwelcome. An email may be your best bet, if only because the recipient can read and respond when he/she has the time. You don’t want to come off as annoying or pushy, which also means that one attempt at contact is sufficient.
  • Pay attention to employer requests. If there are instructions for follow-up in the job description, be sure to heed them. Some employers will prefer one means of communication over another, and others may ask that you do not contact them at all. Again, you don’t want to make a poor impression by being too aggressive or by breaking the rules.
  • Include your intent to follow up in your cover letter. Assuming the job description states that follow-up is acceptable, or does not explicitly state that it is not, let the employer know that you plan to contact them after a specified amount of time once your application has been submitted.
  • Make sure you contact the appropriate person. If there is a hiring manager, follow up with him/her. A contact person may be specified in the job description, but if it is not, get in touch with the Human Resources department, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.
  • Use the subject line effectively. Indicate concisely who you are and why you are contacting the employer by including your name, the position you’ve applied for, and the fact that you’ve applied for it (ex.: John Smith- Follow up to Account Coordinator application).
  • Remind the employer why you’re a good candidate. After restating your name and the position to which you’ve applied, indicate your continuing interest and the qualities you possess that make you the right choice for the job. Pose a non-judgmental question about the hiring timeline– that is, ask whether all candidates will be contacted or only those who are moving forward, for instance, not how long it’s going to take. Be sure to thank the employer for their time and consideration, as well. A follow-up email should be fairly short and sweet.
  • Spell and grammar check. As with all of your application materials, proper spelling and grammar are essential; without them, you may as well not follow up at all. You don’t want to damage your credibility by misspelling a word or forgetting a piece of punctuation.

In the end, it is necessary to realize that the best way to prove yourself a good candidate is to follow up once in an unobtrusive way, then patiently wait for the employer to make a move. If your cover letter and resume are representative of your qualifications, you will only need to offer one brief reminder that you are capable, thoughtful and enthusiastic.


Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.



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