Job Seekers: Don’t to Make These Follow Up Mistakes

A common question that comes up when networking and applying for jobs is how much follow up is good follow up — when does it get annoying, when is it actually helpful?

There’s no one answer, because every recruiter and hiring manager has different preferences.

FindSpark is all about sharing real stories though to help give you context as to how to approach these situations. So here’s a real tale of follow up that went from good to just way too much for one of our partners.


Great: Jane Doe reached out to someone she’d met at the company, not a recruiter (which is fine!), in the past via LinkedIn. She gives her brief work history and why she’s interested in this new company and the specific role. Her request is clear: forward her resume. The person she reached out to, John Smith, tells Jane to email her. While John isn’t even based in the SF office, he’s still happy to pass Jane’s info along — proving that it’s always worth a shot to do this kind of outreach when applying for opportunities.

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Great: Jane Doe thanks John Smith for the reply and sends the resume.

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Not so great: Two days later, Jane Doe asks if John Smith can forward a revised resume. What if John already sent the other one? Make sure you copy edit your resumes BEFORE you ask them to be forwarded! Luckily, John is cool and let’s her know he sent it.

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Good: a follow up email a month later. Short and sweet. However, it would be better if she includes some sort of value to add that John would appreciate, like an article or resource based on what they know, or learned, about the company.

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John replies and Jane says thank you shortly after.

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Not great: here’s where things start to go wrong. Number one: reaching out to people and following up during the holidays is not a great idea, knowing that most people are on vacation. Expect response time for job opportunities to be slow over these time periods.

At this point Jane needs to realize that it’s not John’s job to be her personal concierge when it comes to this role and staying in the loop. He’s not the recruiter and he’s already helped a bunch by being really responsive. This is where John gets annoyed. It’s becoming work, taking care of all of Jane’s emails.

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Yet, John, being the nice person that he is, still replies.


Less then a month later, another follow up. The tone of this one also starts to sound pretty aggressive. Remember, John is not actually involved in the hiring process and not even in the same office. Plus, the fact that Jane did get a response and got to the stage where she was asked to submit a writing assignment, means she’s obviously in the running.

At this point it’s best to just let the process play out. Besides, this follow up also comes at a bad time, being right before the holidays.


Now, John is officially annoyed (although he doesn’t really let it show). Jane shouldn’t need him to bring to her attention that it’s the holidays and there are lots of folks being considered. While Jane’s subject line is good (being straight and to the point), at this stage, the outreach might have already negatively affected her chances.

What good and bad experiences have you had when it’s come to follow up? Share your stories in the comments!

About the Author

Emily is Founder and CEO of FindSpark. Passionate about the power of social media and networking; Emily has spoken at numerous colleges, conferences, and events including The International Youth Leaders Assembly at The United Nations, SXSW Interactive, Internet Week, Mediabistro's Social Media Bootcamp, Time Inc, Columbia University, and New York University, among others. Emily is also an adjunct professor, teaching social media and career courses at multiple colleges. Learn more about having Emily speak at your next event and follow her on twitter @EmilyMiethner.

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