8 Ways to Start Your Career Search
September 8, 2016
Imagine you finally get your resume into the right hands. Then, you finally get a chance to interview with key decision makers with the company of your dreams. It all seems to be coming together nicely. But are you ready to make the right moves before the interview, during the interview, and after the interview to position yourself as the best candidate for the job?
Savvy executives know that effective interview follow-up continues well after the actual interview, whether you’re applying to a corporation or with a search firm. There are certain interview follow-up steps you must take to uphold the good first impression you made in the interview. Remember: the interview follow-up steps outlined below begin while you are still on the interview—not after it has ended!
It’s important to realize that how you conduct your search communicates to the employer how you will conduct yourself on the job, so you need to continue your follow-up appropriately and professionally to seal the deal. Ideally, you should keep these things in mind when following up:
1. Ask About the Next Steps in the Process.
When you sense your interview is coming to an end and your interviewer asks if you have any questions, make sure to ask some. After you have asked questions about the business, the position, etc., ask about the next steps in the process. By asking about next steps, you’ll get an accurate action plan for when you can appropriately follow up and in what timeframe. This will eliminate the guess work on your part. As a former recruiter, I'm stunned by how few people end the conversation with this question.
2. Ask If You Can Connect on LinkedIn.
When you interview, you’re of course interviewing in the hopes of getting the position—but you’re also forming a new professional relationship and adding another name to your list of business contacts. Asking the interviewer if you can connect on LinkedIn is perfectly acceptable.
During the interview, look for natural segues into a connection request. If the interviewer mentions they love to golf, for instance, you can mention a great article on golfing you just read and offer to forward it along. If the interviewer attended your alma mater, you can mention how great its LinkedIn group is and offer to introduce some former classmates who are active in that group.
Bonus Tip: When you send the actual request to connect, make sure you include a personalized note along the lines of, “I enjoyed speaking with you today. I’d like to introduce you to some fellow classmates as we discussed.” (Or whatever personal connection you made with them.) Even if you don’t get the job, you’ve still made a great new professional connection who could wind up assisting your job hunt or career in the future. Don’t neglect to capitalize on that.
3. Ask for a Business Card.
At the end of each interview, ask the interviewer if you can have one of her business cards. This will help you when writing the thank-you note you need to send. Business cards are an easy way to make sure you get key information correct when following up, such as the correct spelling of the interviewer’s title, her exact position, and her email address. If the interviewer doesn’t have her business card on her, jot down this information on your notepad (the one you should be bringing along to every interview).
4. Send Thank-You Notes Immediately.
Do not underestimate the importance of this step. Interviewers see multiple candidates each day, and thank-you notes are a quick and easy way to distinguish yourself from the competition, emphasize your interest in the position, and leave the interviewer with a positive lasting impression. Send thank-you notes via email and/or express mail. When appropriate, sending something tangible will set you apart from other candidates.
How you send this thank-you note depends on the interviewer; it’s always best to ask interviewers how they prefer to be contacted. Email is usually best method due to its immediacy; you can send it from anywhere and interviewers will receive it instantly, keeping you top of mind (and impressing your interviewers with your timeliness). However, if the interviewer prefers traditional mail or you want the extra personalization that comes from a handwritten note, a physical note is also acceptable—just make sure you send it via express mail so you don’t lose the immediacy factor.
Bonus Tip: The note itself should be brief, to the point, and professional yet pleasant. Thank interviewers for their time and restate your interest in the position, reminding them of a few key reasons why you’d be a great fit for it. If you’re sending your note via email, this is also an appropriate time to attach any information you discussed, such as an article you recommended or an example of work you’ve done previously. And don’t forget to send personal notes to each interviewer if you met with more than person.
5. Reach Out Meaningfully—and More Than Once (Maybe More Than Twice).
It’s okay to check in occasionally after the interview, so long as you do it the right way. Sending multiple emails and leaving multiple voice mail messages simply (or annoyingly) asking if a decision has been made will not do you any favors in the interviewer’s eyes. Rather, touch base periodically in a way that demonstrates your value and your interest in the position, without coming across as pushy or desperate.
At the end of the interview, you should be asking about the next steps in the process (as we covered above). Once you know it will take about a week for the company to make a decision, you can gently follow up after 10 days to check in and see if there is any other information you can provide. If you can demonstrate extra value by attaching an article you’ve come across that you think the interviewer will find interesting, you get extra points for being a useful professional contact. Remember that you’re likely not the only person following up on this position, so if you can do something to differentiate your message from the other candidates’, do so.
6. Don’t Assume the Worst If You Don’t Hear Back Immediately.
In the absence of information, don’t choose to fill in the blanks with negative information. That often isn’t productive. Everyone in the hiring process has good intentions to move the process along. But so much of it is out of their control, despite those good intentions. So always keep in mind that no news does not necessarily mean bad news. Maintain a positive attitude, and try not to dwell on it if you’ve yet to hear back from someone.
7. Remain Confident in What You Have to Offer.
Remember … You are awesome! You have unique experiences, knowledge, achievements, contacts, and more. You can bring something (or multiple somethings) to this opportunity that nobody else can. Bring this confidence into the interview with you, and carry it with you afterwards as well. Also, know that if this particular opportunity doesn’t come through for you, there is another company, or opportunity, out there that is going to be a better fit for you—where you will be fortunate to find each other. Believe this.
8. Don’t Wait to Look for the Next Opportunity.
Don’t just sit and wait on this one position; keep your job search moving along. This tactic will preserve your sanity and give you a greater chance of ultimate success. Even if the opportunity you’re waiting to hear about is your dream job, if you sit around and wait for the company to get back to you, it’s like watching a pot of water come to a boil.
Resume your search immediately. Go for a run. Head out to meet a friend. Do all of these things, in fact. Distract yourself from the opportunity as soon as the interview is over to give yourself a fresh perspective when they do call back (remember, think positive!), and maintain your leverage by exploring other options.
These tips should enable you to master your interview follow-up process and secure that job you want. Amd remember, many resume writing and consulting firms are also available to assist with interview preparations as well. The bottom line is knowing what to do right and doing more of those things.
by Lisa Rangel