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VOL. 35 | NO. 26 | Friday, July 1, 2011

Follow-up letter vital to making good impression

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The importance of a follow up letter should not be overlooked as part of the job hunting and interviewing process.

Of all the post-interview methods, it is usually the best way to keep your name in front of the hiring manager. It also is a way to make a good impression while others are not taking the time or putting forth the effort. For a position you really want, don’t make the mistake of not sending an appropriate letter unless another way is obviously preferred by the hiring manager.

There are some key issues to consider when writing a follow up letter. Most are simply common sense.

Don’t wait too long to write. Try and determine how long the interviewing of candidates will be going on by the employer. The process most often goes on no more than a week. In some cases, it can go for several weeks or more than a month. Usually the letter should be sent less than a week after the interview and follow-up interview if one is requested by the employer. It can be sent a little later if the interview process will take longer.

If there are two interviews, two letters can be sent. More than two is probably unnecessary unless there are additional individuals in the interviews. Letters can go to each person in the interview.

Take note that in some interviewing processes the object is to reduce the number of candidates to only a few for follow-up interviews. In these cases, an interviewer would be interviewing a large number of candidates at first. Candidates often become a blur to the interviewer. This is your chance to remind them of your skills and abilities so you won’t be forgotten. And, in those situations where there is only one round of interviews, it is very important that you remind him of your strengths so you stand out. So, send one after the first interview.

In that letter, mention one or two things the interviewer or interviewers talked about during the discussions. This shows that you listened as well as talked.

Refer to the qualifications that are needed for the position and how you meet those needs. If you forgot to mention something about your experiences or need to elaborate more on your skills, this is your chance.

Mention important points about the employer. Show you know a lot about what they do and that you are truly interested in being a part of it.

If the interviewer had a specific issue that might have been critical of your qualifications for the position, try and eliminate those fears. Interviewers often do a poor job of getting all the facts about a candidate, particularly when there is a large number to choose from. Watch for this and prevent it from hurting your chances.

If there is a particular problem the position you are applying for faces, let them know you know how to work through it or solve it. Be specific but don’t give them a complete solution. Let them know they need you.

Also, make sure you use language and terminology that is correct for the field and position.

Finish the letter with any follow-up action you would be taking. If they have asked you not contact them by phone, tell them you look forward to their decision.

Unless requested by the hiring manager, don’t send an email. An email is less formal and more likely to be overlooked or quickly discarded since most managers receive a large number of unwanted emails each day.

Getting hired is a process. There are few actions you can make to tilt things in your favor. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking a follow-up letter.

M.B. Owens is a Nashville-based columnist and journalist with a decade of experience writing on employment topics and business. He can be reached at mariusowens@aol.com.

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