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A peculiar thing happened to me last week. Something that caught me off guard and made me wonder if the majority of us truly understand the value that people place on following up.
I attended a career fair on behalf of my employer to collect resumes and meet prospective job candidates who were seeking employment. At the end of the day I had in-depth conversations with about 35 potential candidates (some of whom were working and others who were currently unemployed) and handed my business card to each one noting that our company vigorously participated in social media and I was the point of contact for follow up. Following the conversations, every single one of the candidates firmly shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said they were very interested in working for my company. Nearly a week later, I have received follow up messages from exactly two of the candidates via email. Two.
I don’t want you to think that I don’t know the drill. Between my detailed conversations with these candidates and the days that followed they may have:
- Decided that they weren’t interested in working for my company
- Immediately received multiple job interviews to fill their schedule
- Decided that after reviewing the potential employers of interest at the fair, their current job was satisfactory for now
I have to think that due to the spirited conversations that I had with each of the candidates, a dozen of which came back to my booth to ask additional questions after our initial conversations, I would have at the very least received 10 – 15 follow up messages. Nope. I got two.
In case you haven’t checked lately, the current job market is still dismal. It’s slowly recovering but at last check, employers still receive approximately 50 – 100 resumes on average for each open position. Furthermore, most recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing cover letters and although estimates vary, less than 20 seconds reviewing resumes.
If you want to stand out, be noticed and get attention, you simply must take the time to follow through after initial contact with an employer at a job fair even if it’s a quick note to say. “Hey thanks for the conversation, but I am pursuing other options at this time.” Who knows? Maybe someday you may seek out that company for a partnership or as a client. Sure makes it easier to get your foot in the door if your last point of contact was a thoughtful follow up note showing courtesy, respect and the foresight to keep the lines of communication open.
This post is about more than job seekers following through. Can PR professionals take a lesson from this? As the power and influence of our own networks grows increasingly more important to succeed in the modern PR world, following up with new contacts demonstrates a level of conscientiousness that makes people want to work with you. Follow up strengthens reputations and although especially critical after meeting media contacts, it extends to everyone we bring into our network. Even if it’s a quick follow up email or tweet, the art of follow up should be an important tool in all PR utility belts.