By Kathryn Vasel
The job search process usually involves a lot of waiting around. Did they get my application? Did that interview go well? How long will it take them to get back to me?
Even if a company is moving fast to fill a role it can still take some time to hear back. But the way you follow up while waiting can help make you stand out.
So don't be shy about following up and expressing just how interested you are in the position.
"Employers want to hire people that want the job. They're not in the business of trying to pitch a job to someone who is really resistant," said job search strategist Kamara Toffolo.
You've applied... now what?
You hit send on your application and then repeatedly check your email for the next few days to see if a recruiter wants to set up an interview.
But you don't have to wait. Experts said you should reach out immediately after applying. Even in a job seeker's market, chances are your application isn't immediately being seen by a human being.
"When you submit a resume it goes into an applicant tracking system...and recruiters do not look at every resume," said Marlo Lyons, a career coach and human resources executive. "You need to find someone to refer you in....or find a contact in the company to flag your resume."
It will take a little bit of sleuthing to find out who to reach out to if it's not listed on the posting. Check to see if you already have any direct connections or second-degree connections at the company on LinkedIn that you can reach out to and ask to pass along your resume or connect you directly with the hiring manager.
To find a recruiter, go to the company's LinkedIn page and find the "people" tab where you can search for "recruiter" among the company's employees, recommended Toffolo.
"We can refine that search even further if you know the business unit you've applied to," she added.
Another approach is to find the hiring manager. To help do this, try to figure out the title of the person you would be reporting to based on the title you are applying for, recommended Angela Copeland, vice president of marketing at Recruiter.com.
"Let's say it's marketing director -- think of the hierarchy of a company: you will typically report into the vice president, or if you are manager you might report into the director. You can look on the company's LinkedIn page to see employees and filter down by job title."
If this still brings up too many potential results, Copeland suggested scanning the job posting for more clues. "Look for something unique in the job description that you would be doing that your hiring manager might also know about and put that in as a keyword ... to help you narrow it down."
For your note, Toffolo said to make it clear you've already applied to the position and why you are a good fit.
"You can summarize your key strengths that you would bring to the role and ask for a time to chat. At the end the message include: If I should be reaching out to one of your colleagues, please feel free to send my message along with my resume, which I've attached."
The interview is over. Do this right away
Job seekers might have a lot of leverage right now, but a thank you note is still important.
"Every time you do the right thing, you are increasing your chances because so many people don't do the basics," said Lindsey Pollak, career expert and author of "Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work."
An email is fine, but Pollak suggests sending it within 12 hours of the interview. And it can be short: Thank you for taking the time to meet with me about XYZ position, I really enjoyed our conversation. Then mention one memorable nugget of something that stood out to you or a follow-up to something you discussed.
"One factoid that shows you're not sending a generic note."
And if you interviewed with more than one person, each person should get an individualized thank you note.
It's been a few weeks since the interview, and ... crickets
You really thought the interview went well, but still haven't heard back.
To help set you up better for follow-up, Pollak suggests asking about the timeline in the interview: "Can you talk me through the next steps -- when can I expect to hear from you?" or "When would it be appropriate for me to follow up?"
If the response is something like two to three weeks, Pollak said to mark your calendar to send a follow-up note in two weeks. But if they don't give any sense, she said reaching out once a week is a good rule of thumb.
In the check-in notes, reiterate your interest and reference something either from the interview that you've been thinking more about or recent company news announcements or CEO comments.
"What you are really trying to do is not mess up by being irritating or rude" said Pollak. "You aren't writing a manifesto or love letter, you are just pinging them with a little bit of value."
If three follow-up notes after an interview go unanswered, Pollak said it's time to stop reaching out.
When you get a 'thanks, but no thanks'
It doesn't feel great to get the "thanks for the interest, but we've decided to go with someone else" email.
But you can still use it to your advantage by sending a response like: I wanted to thank you again for the opportunity, I am glad you found someone who is the right fit. I enjoyed meeting you and would welcome the opportunity to work with you and your team in the future and I've also sent you a connection request on LinkedIn, suggested Toffolo.
"A lot of folks miss the opportunity of sending a final message to the 'thanks, but no thanks,' message."
Sometimes the chosen candidate falls through or another position opens up, and a positive last impression can work in your favor.
"This can really stand out to an employer," she said.