Now what? You’ve had Distinctive Career Services develop a terrific resume for you. You put it where it counts. Now what? Is it smart to follow-up, and when is it overkill?

Identify the situation

You first have to assess the total situation. Different situations prompt different responses.

  • A small business handles pretty much the whole process in the owner’s office, so you might be able to persuade him/her on the phone.
  • Mid-sized businesses with a small personnel office receive quite a few resumes to process before moving forward.
  • A large business has impersonal processes in place that maintain their office efficiency.
  • Companies that use management teams to hire probably do not have a designated resume manager.
  • Businesses that outsource employment, use staffing/recruitment agencies, or have a co-employment relationship with a professional employers organization (PEO) do not handle recruiting at all.

Almost no two companies operate the same, and so much depends on the administrative policies and procedures of the head of HR. But, before you move on, be sure you read the advertising or posting carefully. It may say “No Phone Calls,” or it may describe how they handle the resume. Otherwise, you spin your own wheels.

The bad news

  1. You must understand that the hiring employer does not share the stress you are under during your job search. If they are heads up, they may show some empathy, but they just do not share your anxiety.
  2. The employer sees the job opening differently than you. If the employer is a quality outfit, it will have meticulously developed a job description. They prefer the resumes that map to that description. They may not see the pairing that you do, or they may already have resumes that are a better match.
  3. Every hire – even a replacement hire – must be justified by the manager responsible for that operation’s budget. The manager and HR have worked at defining the job and posting, and they must make the hire that satisfies everyone.
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  4. Human Resource Departments, Staffing Agencies, and PEOs have eligible resumes in the pipeline that may impress more than yours.

The good news

There is nothing stopping you from following up after submitting a resume. In almost all cases it is smart to follow up. It is just a questions of how you do it and what you can expect.

    • If you mass mailed your resume without any targeting or personalization, you have already made a mistake. Following it up will not do you any good.
    • If you submit a resume through big job boards, like Monster or CareerBuilder, you should submit it as directed. Some postings ask you to embed them; some ask you to attach them. But, the employer will receive hundreds of resumes and is not inclined to answer those that are not a perfect match or from applicants who do not follow instructions.
    • If you haven’t already done so prior to submitting your resume (which you should when possible!), this is a great time to leverage your network. Who do you know that works for the company? Perhaps they’ll be willing to mention your name and put in a good word for you.
    • Do you know the name of the person managing the incoming resumes and applications, or one of the managers who will influence the hiring decision? Do a search on LinkedIn and send that person a brief message simply to introduce yourself, inform them that you have submitted a resume, and to reiterate your interest in the position.
    • Sending a cover letter allows you to lay the groundwork for follow-up. When so few applicants write a smart letter, many offices feel cover letters are a nuisance. On the other hand, a resume that arrives without one will often be disqualified. So take the time to write a personalized and targeted letter, at the end of the letter, write something like, “With respect for the volume of work in your office, I will call to follow up on my application (then give a date about a week out).” This puts the bean in their ear that you will be calling. Frankly, the smartest way to avoid your call is for them to call you before that date.
    • Do not send more than one letter or make more than one call.

    If there are additional steps in the process, like an interview, you can resume your side of the process as well – and politely follow up after each step.