You’ve done your best Texas two-step and your interview is over. You met with three key people; the human resource specialist, a department supervisor, and the hiring manager. Three and a half hours of face-to-face conversations and maybe some two-step dancing around the tough questions. Now, it’s time for follow-up. Everyone agrees that some form of follow-up is required, but what’s the best way to do that?

Phone calls usually are not recommended since getting through to the hiring manager is not likely, and leaving a simple voice mail is rarely effective. Sending an email is slightly better than a phone call since it is an electronic written document. The problem with sending an email is there is a chance your message might wind up in spam and managers get dozens of emails they quickly discard.

In this electronic age, many people are going back to typed or hand written notes. A brief note on a thank you card is a nice way to differentiate you from other applicants, but effective follow-up has two goals. The first is to express your appreciation and interest in the position. The second is to get a response. A simple thank you follow up that generates no response is at best marginally effective.

I suggest a two-step approach. The first step is a hand written thank you note sent the next day. The second is sending an email follow-up a week or so later – but as noted earlier, many emails are ignored, so it is important that your email contain information the reader cares about. Therein is the secret to effective follow-up.

Here’s an example: You had your interview two or three weeks ago, sent a thank you note the day after, but have not heard from the company. Most applicants would call and leave a voice mail, or some may send an email. In both cases, the message might be something like this:

“Mr. Jones, this is Joe Smith. I interviewed with you two weeks ago for the Compliance Specialist position. I was wondering if a decision has been made yet? I am still very interested in the position and would like to work for Acme Oil. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you.”

If you were the very busy hiring manager would you take the time to respond to this message? At best you’d probably bump it over to your HR staff and tell them to respond when they are ready.

Now, what if this was your message:

“Mr. Jones, this is Joe Smith. I was reading the latest Oil Industry blog and see that regulation 473 was recently passed. As I mentioned during our interview of two weeks ago, I can help Acme assess the impact of 473 and address its stringent reporting EPA requirements similar to what I did at ABC, Inc. for regulation 321. Avoiding 321 penalties saved them over $330,000.

If you haven’t had a chance to review regulation 473 I’d be happy to send you my summary. Lastly, has a decision been made yet on filling the Compliance position? Look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you.”

The big difference between these two is that in the second email you are talking about the company and its issues. In the first email all you talk about is you. Furthermore, in the second message you show (as you had in the on-site interview) that you are knowledgeable and care about that industry.

Some might say, “Why not just attach your summary with your email?” The reason you don’t is because you want a response! If you want the hiring manager to care enough to respond to you, then you must first show you care about them, and the best way to do that is to talk about the challenges they face and how you can deliver value.

As you can see, effective follow-up requires work on your part. Simply throwing off a quick email won’t achieve much. Follow this two-step method and hopefully you will see positive results!