Why You Need to Follow Up on Your Resume

You've sent out your resumes, so now it's time to follow up on them. Using resume follow-up is an essential job search tool. Employers are having a hard time dealing with the zillions of resumes floating around the Internet, so be proactive to ensure that your resume doesn't fall through the cracks.

When employers and recruiters don’t see the benefits of spending time talking with you, they become masters of the game of “catch me if you can.” Even if you do manage to get hiring managers on the phone, they may be evasive, even brusque.

Reasons you should follow up on your resume

Learning the art of following up on your resume submissions can be one of the smartest things you do in your job search, for the following reasons:

  • Lightning strikes. Sometimes a hiring manager, who has been meaning to fill a position but has been too busy putting out fires, responds favorably to the candidate who happens to call on a day when the manager has time to exhale. It’s a bit of the luck of the draw.

  • Persistence produces. Some employers wait to judge which candidates have the most follow-through by how well they follow up. This “test” applies not only to sales but to other endeavors where a prized competence is the ability to “stay on top of things.”

  • Control empowers. By learning and adapting the successful strategies crack sales professionals use to set an appointment, you dramatically reduce the amount of frustration, letdown, and low self-esteem you could be feeling because you’re taking charge and doing everything you can do.

How to address an automatic resume response

The vast majority of employers — as many as eight of ten who use an applicant tracking system — send out an automatic response to your application. The response says you’ll be contacted if you match a job opening.

The automatic response rate of independent recruiters is unclear, but if you’re a potential candidate for a job opening they’re trying to fill, a recruiter will call you fairly quickly; if not, you may get an autoresponse or no response.

If you get a canned response when following up on your resume, try saying some version of the following script:

  • When an autoresponse message tells you that your resume has been received, call the person to whom you sent it (usually a human resources specialist) and ask what happened to it:

    Was my resume a match for an open position? Was my resume passed onto a hiring manager? Can you tell me which manager?

  • If you find out the name of the hiring manager, try to contact that manager, because that’s who will quarterback the decision to hire you or not hire you. If you were referred by someone, such as an employee in another department, use the following type of question:

    My name is Kelly Novak and I’m calling you because Henry Johannsen in engineering, who recommended that I send you my resume, says that you intend to hire a top-of-the-line planner as soon as possible. I’ve been able to design plans that were quickly approved by the California Coastal Commission. Would you like to talk with me before I leave on a scheduled vacation?

  • If you don’t have a name to throw around, try a question like this one:

    I’ve had strong interest from another employer, which prompts me to ask whether you had planned to contact me within the week? Your company has a good reputation and I’d like to meet with you before making other commitments. Does this week work for you?

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