Job Seeking 101: Professional Follow-up

Following up with people you meet, whether at interviews, networking or other social events is the single most important thing you can do to assure your success in job hunting.   There are some simple rules to follow that will “lock down” the impression you make with the people you meet, and maximize your chances for success.
Interviews
You’re one of the lucky ones invited to an interview.  Regardless of how you thought things went, the most important thing you can do is cement your impression with the interviewer.  Maybe things were a little bumpy; perhaps you weren’t satisfied with the way you handled some items in the interview. On the other hand, maybe you thought you were fantastic.
Regardless, good manners demand that you show respect for your interviewer’s time.  Email thank-yous are a quick and painless way to show your professionalism.  They also offer the added benefit of giving you the opportunity to fill in any gaps you might have left behind in the interview.  Do this the same day as the interview; don’t give your interviewer a chance to let your impression drift into the background.
By sundown the next day be sure to have a handwritten thank you note in the mail.  Thank the interviewer for the opportunity to discuss the position.
If things go well, you’ll often find yourself invited back for a second interview.  Again, don’t let that day go by without sending an email thank you.  You can include any additional information that may have come up in the interview.  These may be things like references, your availability, or salary requirements.
Following up after a networking event, mixer or other social setting
As soon as you can discreetly do it, write notes on the person’s business card to help you recall the person and the conversation.  By sundown the next day be sure you have a handwritten note in the mail.  Your message can be simple and brief, something like:  “I enjoyed talking with you about…and I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.
If you talked about something that made you think of useful information, send an email with a link.  Be sure to include your contact information.  If you have something specific to talk about and you think it would be helpful to the person, you can also call them and talk with them or leave a brief voicemail.  Be careful to do this only if you think it will have a direct benefit to the person.  Brevity is critical, if you are tempted to say more than a short sentence or two, just say you have an answer to their question and ask them to call you back.  Be sure to leave the number where they are most likely to reach you.  Always be respectful of the person’s time.
Social networking can be very useful.  Ask to join the person’s LinkedIn network.
Long Term Relationships Take a Long Time to Build
Use email to maintain an ongoing dialogue.  When you see something that might be useful to the person, send them links to articles or events.  Each year send a New Year’s card with a handwritten note updating them on your career and professional status.
Job Seeking is Sales
You are selling the most important commodity you have: your skills and the finite amount of time that you have in your life to apply them.  Respect the task you have before you and respect those who show interest in you.
When you are seeking a job you need to show your potential employer what you can do for them and their company.  Be sure you always strike the balance between your desire to work for them and their desire for success.  If you are careful and thoughtful about how and why you are contacting them you are showing them how you can help them succeed.  That optimizes your chance for success.

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