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Career Advice

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Marc Cenedella

When two candidates are equally experienced, equally credentialed, and equally capable, who gets the job?

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Interviewing

How Not to Follow Up After a Job Interview

Angry e-mail? Check. Thank-you messages read from scripts? Check. Here’s a rogues’ gallery of what else not to do.

By Lisa Vaas
FILED UNDER: Follow Up.
Interviewing

If you can craft an intelligent letter or e-mail to follow up after a job interview, it could be the tipping point that pushes you into the job candidate finalist category.

“The thank-you note remains one of the most overlooked marketing tools of the job search,” said Stephanie Daniel, vice president and group program manager at Keystone Associates, a career-management and transition services consultancy.

And then there’s the not-so-well-crafted message, which can put you, the job seeker, in the “loser” category. A number of professionals on the receiving end of follow-up e-mail, snailmail, FedEx packages, singing telegrams and other communications shared with us this rogues’ gallery of infamously inappropriate follow-ups. They caution readers: Do not to try this at home.

The monologist

Heather Krasna, an expert in public-sector executive jobs, tells of a client who left a long-winded thank-you message on an executive's voicemail, directly reading from the thank-you letter she was going to send.

“This was just weird from the employer's perspective and came across as too intense or desperate as well as an inappropriate use of voicemail,” Krasna said. “She would have been better off had she just mailed a thank-you note.”

The unprofessional e-mailer

Carl Gould, Chief Discovery Officer at business mentoring firm CMT Mentors, told us about one job applicant who used a personal e-mail address that referenced a side job as a part-time clown. “Needless to say, we filtered that one into the garbage rather quickly,” Gould said.

The aggressive ones

Scott R. Gingold, CEO of Powerfeedback, has had follow-ups come via Twitter, LinkedIn, FedEx, snailmail, fax, Web site and at business events. They can get creepy regardless of the medium. His personal rogues’ gallery features:

  • Being invited to a sporting event by an applicant who doesn't know him
  • Having female candidates be sexually suggestive
  • Multiple phone calls after he’s told the job seeker not to call
  • Daily e-mail after he’s told applicants to stop
  • Being told in a letter that he reminds an applicant of a deceased relative

The angry guy

Krasna had a “horrific” experience years ago in which a job candidate, still in school, sent an angry e-mail to a recruiter because he didn’t get the job. The job seeker said he was “glad he didn't get the job because he wouldn't have wanted to work for the company anyway,” Krasna said, and then "complimented" the recruiter on her figure.

“Needless to say, this e-mail was forwarded along to the college career center, and the student was informed that he would no longer be allowed to use our career services,” she said. “It was a while before the college's reputation would be recovered at that company!”

The cranky guy

Thomas Tuft, an attorney with Tuft & Arnold Law Offices, in Maplewood, Minn., once had a law student send a “very cranky letter” after the firm hadn’t responded to his resume submission within a week. Mind you, this was at a time when the firm wasn’t hiring. “It is not our practice to respond to the dozens of resumes we receive unsolicited,” Tuft said. “That student will never be hired here.”

The casually sloppy

While the preceding are all somewhat spectacularly bad follow-ups, Krasna pointed out that people often hurt their chances simply by not using good grammar and spelling in their communications. “Taking the time to write a careful thank-you note that touches on all the reasons you want to work for the organization, as well as how you would be a perfect fit for them, will make you stand apart in a more positive way,” she noted.

Lisa Vaas covers resume writing techniques and the technology behind the job search for TheLadders.

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