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How to follow up on your job application (+ get a response fast)

Exploring the course (which is really an eBook) from Cultivated Culture, The Job Search Email Playbook.

Here's his script to reply to the automated email that confirms they've received your application:

Hi [Name],

I hope you’re having a fantastic week!

I’m writing to check on my application for the [Insert Job Title] role that I submitted last [Insert Day]. To quickly recap, here are a few examples of the value I’ve driven for similar teams in the past [X] years:

• [Insert Relevant Value-Driven Bullet Here]

• [Insert Relevant Value-Driven Bullet Here]

• [Insert Relevant Value-Driven Bullet Here]

You probably have many fantastic applicants and I know how much time it takes to fully review all of them. I really appreciate you taking the time to review mine! Either way, I’m wishing you all a ton of success with this hire.

Here's the issue I see with this script:

It's too high effort to be sending to someone who's oftentimes not a decision-maker and, therefore, cares little.

More often, it's likely a virtual assistant, technical support team member, or someone else of similar power who will be responding.

So, here's the approach I use instead:

I send a separate email to their support team asking them where I am in the line. And, since they have to search for my application to give an answer, that automatically moves me to the front of the line (since they're now looking at it).

And, in the case above, that led to a direct interview with a top decision-maker (the founder).

However, sometimes, even with this script, I still had to follow up a few times to deal with the employees who "didn't care".

And, that's where it's often still better to go for a lower-effort approach that pushes them to do their job than adding bullet points trying to persuade them to care.

Here's an example. I sent that same email script to a company whose VA tried to avoid the work by answering a different question and pointing me back to their careers page:

So, I follow up:

And, he does indeed point me in a different direction: an email address that I had already CC'd on the initial one asking for information (so he knows I reached out to them already).

But, this time, he also CCs someone on the email (which the green arrow is pointing to above) to speed things up—an overall positive outcome.

A similar case happened with another company, where I sent the same script and instead of answering the question I asked, they answered a slightly different one:

This person didn't really answer the question. And, then he quickly closed the support request on his side and asked me to fill out a survey.

So, I re-open the support ticket and ask again:

And, this time, another support representative answers the ticket and does the job the previous one didn't want to do.

Now, I get to the front of the line, without all of the work of the Cultivated Culture email script that would probably get overlooked in most cases.

PRO Tip: avoid coming across as entitled to the front of the line

There is a caveat to this approach though.

One must still be careful to avoid coming across like you "deserve" to be ahead of the other applicants and avoid pestering your way to the front of the line.

See an example here:

Them: "If your skills match those needed for the position you applied for, a member of the hiring team will be in touch with you directly."

That sounds like it's saying, "If we read your application and decide we want to follow up with you, we will. Don't pressure me to push your way to an interview."

So, in my response, I had to be careful to agree with her frame (agreeing that their process is all great and I'm not opposing it) while still redirecting to my main question to get what I wanted out of the email exchange.

And, in the end, she forwarded my email directly to the hiring managers for them to give me an update.


All of the above is my personal approach and opinion, so if anyone has any thoughts or feedback, happy to read.

Lucio Buffalmano, Alexandr and 5 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAlexandrJohn FreemanTransitionedKavalierMats GBel

Hi Ali,

thank you for sharing this.

Concentrating this post on the script in the book you mention, that you rightly pointed out as inadequate.

I see the following additional drawbacks in the script, which also give it a feeling of being evidently "scripted":

Quote from Ali Scarlett on March 17, 2023, 3:39 pm

Here's his script to reply to the automated email that confirms they've received your application:

Hi [Name],

I hope you’re having a fantastic week!

This line seems too high-effort, sounding fake; especially if this is the first email to this person.

I’m writing to check on my application for the [Insert Job Title] role that I submitted last [Insert Day].

This part sounds the most ok; though, I agree with you it's probably too detailed, too high-investment. Kind of reminding the other person of where you met.

Which makes me realize that doing so, even in emails, is a mistake.

Your approach instead presupposes they will remember or check on their end. And it is much better.

To quickly recap, here are a few examples of the value I’ve driven for similar teams in the past [X] years:

• [Insert Relevant Value-Driven Bullet Here]

• [Insert Relevant Value-Driven Bullet Here]

• [Insert Relevant Value-Driven Bullet Here]

This part sounds badly out of place, like bragging; also subcommunicating insecurity, as if one had to showcase he's good just to be given an answer.

Which points out to the fact that one does not have to be the best applicant, or even a "good applicant", to be given an answer.

Your approach subcommunicates high-power and competence as you don't beat around the bush.

You probably have many fantastic applicants and I know how much time it takes to fully review all of them.

This to me is the worst part of the script. It sounds as a fake attempt at cognitive empathy, and it thread-expands on reasons for the recipient not to answer.

I really appreciate you taking the time to review mine!

Covert tasking.

Either way, I’m wishing you all a ton of success with this hire.

This closes the communication without waiting for the other's response, and provides him an excuse not to answer.

Kind of the same mistake I was doing often with closing my emails with "talk soon" or "I remain at your disposal".

It kills the communication, does not let it "breathe".

Lucio Buffalmano, Ali Scarlett and 4 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli ScarlettJohn FreemanTransitionedKavalierMats G

Hello Ali,

Very interesting topic! Regarding the script, I think Bel nailed it. To me it sounds a bit fake and over-investing. It sounds quite off to me and I would not use it.

Regarding your approach, personally I like to think this one at the strategy level. That is to generate more options: sending more applications. Then I send the best application possible (obviously) and let it go. If after a month I have no answer I will probably send something like:

Dear Sir, dear Madam,

I’m taking the liberty to contact you regarding my application for such and such position on the date of ….

Could you please let me know when an answer is likely to be known about my application?

Thank you very much,

Sincerely,

John Freeman

Something along those lines about knowing when I can expect an answer.

I am not a huge believer that the follow up email has a big effect on the chance of being hired. They are choosing between different candidates based on many other criteria. So I use these emails just to know when I will have an answer. If this reminds them of me or makes me look like a professional, good. But I don’t expect it.

Lucio Buffalmano, Ali Scarlett and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli ScarlettTransitionedKavalier

Nice one, Ali!

Handled like a true social strategist :).

I think that something similar to the original approach can work for a lower-power career starter chasing his dream companies.
Then, you don't have to worry too much about losing power because you're already much lower power, and then your high investment is more like "positive eagerness", and sub-communicates you'll probably work hard once you join -still the issues you highlight of not reaching the decision makers apply though-.

Ali Scarlett, Alexandr and 4 other users have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettAlexandrJohn FreemanTransitionedKavalierBel
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I agree with Ali and John.  I think where it can help is keeping a conversation alive with an internal/company contracted recruiter and showing you have the EQ.  Remember 80% of the time the poor recruiters have to deal with socially uncalibrated people it is almost depressing how easy it is to stand out.

Won't work with body shop recruiters they just throw high volumes of mud against the wall and see what sticks.

It is a hail Mary but sometimes prayers are answered.  As I said in the TPM article depends on your pipeline.  Sort of low percentage thing like meetup networking you might do in a slow job hunting week - you miss 100% of the shots you don't take!

Over a few emails and convos a recruiter literally decided I was not right for the analyst job I applied for and put me forward for a senior delivery manager gig which I have signed up the contract on.  Just a lucky bounce but if you're on the court enough you get those.

Ali Scarlett, John Freeman and 3 other users have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettJohn FreemanKavalierMats GBel
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