Don't skip the FOLLOW UP after the interview

How to write a thank you letter to use after an interview, a phone interview, or even to someone who passed your name on to a hiring manager is an art; it is not taught often as it should be to job seekers like yourself.

Doing a follow up is CRITICAL to increasing your employability in this fiercely competitive job market. Even more so if you are leaving the military and embarking on a civilian job search. Essentially, you’re entering the unknown. All the more reason to know what to expect when navigating the civilian workplace. So following up will not only makes you appear to be thoughtful and intelligent, but also put you above the crowd. Doesn’t this make sense?

Hiring managers are so swamped with resumes and cover letters after a job is posted that they actually look for reasons to discard resumes.

Here’s what I tell clients when they are in my office. 

To assess how much they may or may not know about job searching in the civilian world, I will ask them how much time HR or hiring managers spend on SCANNING resumes. Clients give me different answers: two minutes, one minute, forty-five seconds to two minutes…I’ve heard all kinds of responses. Then I show them three piles or resumes: the maybe’s, the yes’s and the no’s.

HR Managers SCAN resumes for 10-30 seconds. Point blank.

So imagine yourself as following up after a job interview. By doing so, you’ve automatically boosted your odds of being considered seriously
as the successful hire.

Having five hundred resumes in your email in box can be quite intimidating. Some hiring managers have been known to send out an automated response to all applicants letting them know that the resume was received. They will then sit back and wait for further communication. If an applicant knows how to write a thank you letter, he/she will have a jump on the competition immediately.

How can you do this? As in all formal correspondence it should be block formatted with proper spelling, addresses and salutations. Keep it short—two or three paragraphs.

In the first paragraph express your primary purpose by thanking the person for their time and consideration. Business people are busy and time is a valuable commodity. Make sure that you include the time of your interview. In the past, I was on many panel interviews at my local military base and we had scheduled many interviews throughout the day. Giving a reminder of when you attended your interview will trigger the interviewers’ memories.

In the second paragraph restate one or two key job skills you can bring to the position. Remind the interviewer as to why you are a valued-added (return on investment) candidate for the job. You can do this by including NEW information that you did not provide in the interview.

Everyone is (or should have) some level of nervousness during an interview. Chances are that you have forgotten vital information about your qualifications and credentials that may sway the interviewers’ opinions about you as the possible hire.

Going one step further, think of creative ways to include additional information:

-a link to your blog or social media account such as Linkedin or Twitter, that positions you as a SME (subject matter expert)

-a link to a quick sound bite (for example, Vine, which allows to you make a 6 second video)

-testimonials about your professional history, as in former PER’s (performance evaluation ratings) to “seal the deal” about hiring you. For example, you can include two powerful sentences from your PER’s in the last two years.

Now THAT is being creative and imaginative!

In the third paragraph, thank the reader again, and reiterate that you are available by phone, email or in person should they have further questions.

An example of how a follow up occurred with one job seeker a few years ago at a business brokerage. She was competing for a full-time
office manager position against two other candidates. One of the men had a bachelors degree and the other was about to receive her bachelors.
Both men had several more years experience in office administration. Obviously the other candidates were more qualified than the first
applicant, but she knew how to write a thank you letter, and proved it.

After her interview with the company owner, the managing broker and the old office manager (who was retiring and helping choose her own
replacement), the first candidate composed a thank you letter. She then printed individualized copies for each person she interviewed with mailed them that evening. When the interviewers received them the next day they were impressed with her thoughtfulness. Despite the fact that the other two applicants were more qualified, she was hired.

The female applicant made a full effort and had the most impact…she was the successful hire!

Many hiring managers will interview multiple candidates and only hire from those who send thank you letters. Some studies have shown that only one in ten applicants see the importance of thank you letters.

Can you share a story about following up and getting the job? I’d
love to hear from you. Please email me at

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