Job Interview and Follow-Up Etiquette

I recently appeared on CNN Newsroom in a segment that focused on taking control of your job search. I had the opportunity to discuss why job interview etiquette so crucial today, and I offered some immediate steps that everyone can take to jumpstart this process.

With so many of us experiencing lay-offs and downsizing, we need to remain focused and responsive in formulating our plan. Take no more than 24 hours to “cry in your beer,” and don’t give in to the temptation to take time off, even if you receive a generous severance package. Go to and to research companies that you can target. Identify the positions you are interested in and create a resume and cover letter describing your SINCERE desire to work for that company. Outline your specific skill sets and how they relate to the position. Be clear, brief, but very concise. Make it easy for the hiring manager to recognize your qualifications for THIS job. By all means, use correct grammar and spelling. Choose a simple business font, and spring for slightly nicer paper if you are submitting a hard copy.

Now the real work begins. You must follow up within 48 hours to determine whether or not they have received your resume. Use voicemail and email. State your name, tell them when and how you submitted your resume and express your genuine interest in the position. Also mention ONE sentence about your key skills for the job. Ask what you can do to take it to the next step, and leave your contact information. Every 48 hours is a good rule of thumb for a follow up throughout this process.

Finally, network like crazy. It is perfectly acceptable to politely contact everyone in your database letting them know that you are in the job market and looking for something in “such and such” field.

Throughout this process, also remember the following points to help yourself stand out:

1. Make a connection. Find some common ground with that hiring manager, and offer them a sincere compliment.

2. Follow-up is EVERYTHING. Use voicemail, email AND a written note. Don’t forget to thank the receptionist or secretary, and follow up with everyone you met or were introduced to.

3. Use the connections you made and the information you gathered about the hiring manager to come up with creative ideas for follow-up.

4. Ask intelligent questions during the interview process. What makes a great ABC Company employee? DO NOT ask anything about compensation or benefits.

5. When you close the interview, express your interest and ask what the next step would be.

6. Thank EVERYONE. The world is a very small place and things have a way of coming around. Don’t underestimate anyone’s value or importance in the world.

Though this process is daunting and tedious, it is so important to keep a gracious and positive attitude. Your diligence and good manners will make you stand out from the crowd and are sure to put you ahead of the competition. Just remember that we can all “act up” in this “down” time, and trust that better times are indeed ahead.

By April Fawcett Nagel

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