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Winning or losing that job may be all in the follow-through

"Winning or losing that job may be all in the follow-through

By Rayne Wolfe

The interview was great. You liked them. They liked you. Not only were you qualified for the job, it was one you actually wanted. The interviewer promised to be in touch. But it's three weeks later, and you still haven't heard anything.

Your lack of follow-up might be to blame.

Job-hunting doesn't end after the interview. It's sort of like dating. You meet, you exchange numbers and you hope to meet again. If you found the right person, you would commit to a long-term relationship. But you have to speak up. Don't risk your lack of follow-up being misinterpreted as a lack of interest.

We've all been in interviews when we knew within 10 minutes that we didn't want the job. There was no magic - no attraction. We went through the motions, making the same promises we would for a job we truly desired. As we exited, we made earnest promises to be in touch. But as soon as the revolving lobby door shooed us out onto the sidewalk, we heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Follow up? Oh, sure.

Put yourself in the hiring authority's chair for a moment. Interviewers meet with many prospects for each job. One way they differentiate candidates is by their expressed level of interest.

Say there are two equally qualified candidates. Both interviewed well. One forwarded a project list and preliminary references after the interview. The other never called, never wrote and never made any effort to stay on the radar screen. Who gets the job offer?

The difficulty for candidates is that, like dating, there is a fine line between following up and stalking. How does a candidate know what to do when?

Don't pass up any opportunity during the interview to gather information on just how the process will play out. Ask if they plan to choose finalists by the end of the week or the end of the month. Will they call or write? Try to get a feeling for the interviewer's time line. This may save you from seeming to be pushy later on.

You should generally avoid telephone calls early in the process. Why? Until everyone has been interviewed, there is no way for the interviewer to know where you rank, so your call might be difficult to respond to in a meaningful way. Next-day calls are almost always uncomfortable for this reason.

There is one nice opportunity to follow up the day after the interview, though. Take a moment to type a short letter expressing your appreciation for the meeting and your enthusiasm for the job. Perhaps you've recalled something you wished you had mentioned at the interview. Facts about professional experience and training can add up, tipping the job offer scale in your favor.

Keep it brief, keep it friendly and trust the Postal Service to deliver it. Dropping off a letter of this type in person can be disruptive in a busy office.

If you haven't heard anything after one week, send another short letter. You might send a clean copy of your resume with notations about your salary history in the margin - information the interviewer will appreciate.

After the second letter, which might go out two weeks after your interview, I would telephone. Approach your interviewer with a sympathetic tone. You know how crazy interviewing can get. You just wanted to make sure that your name was still active.

You can ask if they are "focusing" on a particular candidate. If they are, but it's not you, at least this information will allow you to concentrate your energy on other opportunities. These conversations can feel a little creepy, especially if they involve bad news, but wouldn't you rather know sooner than later?

If you learn that you are candidate No. 2, take heart. My experience is that easily half the time, first choices for open positions aren't hired.

A great job interview, like a wonderful first date, deserves enthusiastic follow-up. You don't have to send roses, but do make sure they know you're ready for a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship."

<Note from JobFairy.com: We take exception to sending a second short letter or a follow-up call after that. You should be generating sufficient leads that only the most interested of prospective employers need keep your attention. We feel that if they're difficult to please to begin with, or worse yet, they LET YOU KNOW that you were their second or third choice, they will not have sufficient regard for you on the job. Raises will be infrequent and small; promotions will just not happen. As The Rules say, "Only love those who love you". Pursuing a not-all-that-interested potential employer reeks of desperation. What's wrong with your skill set that you should have to try so desperately for a position for which you are qualified?>

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