Anyone who has worked with me or who has been reading this site for long enough knows that I am a BIG fan of following up on job applications.
What do I mean by that? Basically, I’m talking about networking… but networking with a really specific ask and purpose.
The ask = I just applied for a job and I’m wondering if you can consider me / highlight my application to the right person / help me land an interview
Whether you know someone directly at the company or are planning on contacting someone you don’t know (like the hiring manager, job poster, recruiter, or even an alum of your school) a lot of people ask me about timing. That’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this post.
Should you apply first or network first?
While it might not always be 100% necessary in the end, it is the best practice. Companies have an application process in place for a reason. Applying officially through the system means the company will have your resume and information on file, attached to the job you’re interested in, and easily accessible.
It also means that whoever is responsible for the initial screening of your resume will see it as they’re flipping through job applications. They might even come across it before your best friend’s brother (or whoever is helping you) happens to pass it along.
Applying first is also a way to show the company you’re willing to follow their process.
How long after applying should you wait to follow up?
The next question I always get is about when to follow up or network after an application. There’s not really a right or wrong answer to this one but here’s my recommendation:
If you know someone who works there:
If you have a 1st-degree connection or even a really strong 2nd-degree (friend-of-a-friend) connection, then my advice is to follow up right away.
As soon as you hit send on that application, let your contact know that you applied, you’re really excited about the role, and you’re hoping they can help highlight your name/resume/app to the right person internally.
Then, when they refer you, the person in charge of the role can easily pull up your info.
If you are networking with a stranger
In this case, I recommend waiting a few days after your initial application. If you want an exact number of days, we’ll say three.
Why? Well, researching people to reach out to (aka: professional stalking via LinkedIn) takes time and effort. So does crafting cold emails that are both respectful and compelling. I don’t want you to spend the time doing all of this unless you need to.
There are absolutely times where the recruiting or hiring manager will see your application, like your background, and reach out on their own. In this case, you can save some time and skip the networking effort.
All this being said, if you feel excited to reach out immediately following your application, go for it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that.
Should you send another email if you don’t receive a response?
Again, this depends on what type of connection we’re talking about. If it’s someone you know then a gentle nudge is probably a good thing. I’d wait about a week and then follow up just to make sure they saw your email (especially if they proactively offered to help you out to begin with!)
With total strangers, not getting a response is sadly going to be the default… and frankly, this isn’t a person that owes you anything.
My recommendation is not to follow up with the same person but instead to try someone else. For example, if you first emailed someone on the recruiting team, try someone on the functional team you’re applying to.
If you’ve reached out to two different targeted people with thoughtful notes and you’re still not getting a response, I generally would say it’s time to move on and put your energy into applying to and networking for other roles.