Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Following Up with Employers

Students, this post is just for you! I’ve received questions asking for advice on how students should follow up with employers after in-person encounters at tours, info sessions, career fairs, networking events, interviews etc. So here are some tips…

The first step is knowing how your perspective employer likes to receive applications. If they have an online application system – use it!  Don’t just email your contact your resume.  Many employers receive hundreds of applications a week and the only way they manage them is through their online application/candidate management system. Ensure that you write a cover letter highlighting the culture & unique features of the company & matching those points with reasons on why you are the perfect fit. In your cover letter mention the person you met at the event & why they made an impression on you. Knowing the culture of the company you are applying for is key. If they are a very corporate/professional environment a more formal tone is appropriate. I work in a very young dynamic marketing environment so I like to see real personality and energy come out in a cover letter to set someone out from the pack.

After applying online, reach out directly to the person you met at the event. Make sure at the event you ask for a business card of the contact. First make sure you actually speak with the contact though. When I receive a follow up email from a candidate, I want to actually remember that we spoke.  I want them to have stood out. At the end of an event, don’t rush around trying to meet as many recruiters or hiring managers as possible, asking for their card & sending them each form letter follow-ups. Instead focus on building relationships or connections with a few recruiters & let them really get to know you. This will give you more information to personalize your follow-up email & also help them remember you when they receive it.  

Sending a personalized email within 24 hours is key. Remember to attach your resume but reference that you have already applied online.  I also recommend for students to include their LinkedIn profile link in their email so recruiters can go online & see their photo/online resume if they need a reminder of who the candidate is.  Additionally in your email, highlight why you enjoyed meeting them, reference the interaction you had, and discuss why you think you would be a great fit for the company. This personalized touch makes a difference - you would be surprised how few students do this! When I receive a great follow up email, I always forward it directly to the recruiter who is leading the hiring for the position the candidate is interested in. I also go into our application system to copy the letter & insert my feedback into their file so other recruiters see how passionate the candidate is. The 20 minutes taken to write a great follow-up email are worth it if it follows a great in person conversation.

The same holds true after an interview: Make sure you send your interviewer an email thanking them for their time & highlighting what you learned about the company during your interview & why you think you would be a great fit.

Hopefully this gives you a few quick & easy tips on how you can continue to make that great impression with recruiters that might make all the difference in securing your first full time job! 

Though this article is aimed at students, these tips are also very applicable to any candidate who wants to follow up with a recruiter or hiring manager after a networking or interview opportunity. Good luck job hunters!

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