The answer to the question this post's title poses is simple: absolutely!
If you want to become one of those 20 percent, there are few better ways to do so than by following up with your prospective employer.
(Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, such as if you have stellar experience and qualifications, but even if you are an outlier, it never hurts to dial up a potential employer.)
This post will briefly discuss the reasons for following up with a potential employer, along with how it should be approached.
Why You Should Follow Up After Applying
You should follow up with a job after applying because it distinguishes you from other candidates.
As a hypothetical example, if there were 100 applicants for a job, and you were the only one to call— not an impossible scenario, as the internet has not only made it so most apply to many more jobs, but emailing has become the norm— you’d probably stand out a lot more.
As the entire interview process is all about setting impressions, finding a way to differentiate yourself is imperative.
Even if you are highly qualified, there is no guarantee that your resume will even be looked at without providing some more overt form of attention.
Phone vs. Email
While following up via phone is more direct than following up with email— which more applicants will likely do, and which will less likely elicit a response— it should not be done in every case.
The argument goes like this: many recruiters simply don’t have the time and energy to directly speak with candidates, as they’re often sifting through hundreds or thousands of resumes, doing phone screenings and interviews, administrative tasks, and oftentimes traveling.
Other benefits to emailing include there being written documentation of the conversation, it allows a candidate to more clearly— and less embarrassingly— express themselves, and it eliminates any unwanted phone tag.
On the other hand, the benefits of phone calls, which are an older medium of following up, are well-documented.
Some might feel uncomfortable asking about their status as a candidate over the phone, but practice can help alleviate these concerns.
Do keep in mind that certain companies will explicitly tell job candidates to not call regarding job vacancies. If you run into this type of situation, it is usually wise to not call, although some advise that there are ways to get around this restriction.
Whom and When You Should Call
Assuming you decide to make a follow up call rather than email, there are certain protocol you should follow.
When you do a follow up call after sending in your resume, it is important to ask for an actual hiring manager, as opposed to an in-house recruiter or HR. You can often find the names of relevant hiring managers on the company’s website; by asking a receptionist over the phone; or by using a database such as Hoovers, ThomasNet, or Lead411.
As for when you should call, a follow up should generally be done within a week or two after you submit your application. Wait too much longer and there’s a good chance that the job you applied for will no longer be vacant.
As for the appropriate time of the day to do a follow up call, it largely depends upon the industry.
Much of it is common sense; you wouldn’t call a 9-to-5 type job in the evening when no one is there.
It is generally smart to make the decision to call, as opposed to email, when an employer provides a phone number in their listing; this hints that they expect to be called.
If you end up calling, it’s of utmost importance to have a clear and professional voicemail greeting.
There’s a decent chance that you won’t be able to pick up your phone when and if your call is returned, and you won’t want to compromise any chances you may have with a silly greeting.
While this post has discussed the value of correspondence before an interview, it is equally important to communicate following an interview.
Never be afraid to send a thank-you note to prospective employers. Like the follow up call, it helps the employer remember who you are, while also showing appreciation.
Lastly, while this post is about follow up calls, by no means are they the only way to approach following up. Emails work better in many cases; this post should hopefully help guide you when it comes to the pros and cons of each.