A common question I get from students is, “How do I stand out during the job search process?” A simple and frequently overlooked way to positively set yourself apart is to follow-up.
I couldn’t agree more. So many people put energy into networking and job searching only to waste it by not keeping in touch with the people they meet.
Following up puts your words and promises into action, which builds trust. It allows you to continue a conversation, potentially turning an introduction or initial meeting into something more meaningful and mutually beneficial. But, following up also makes people vulnerable to rejection. Which is why many don’t like to do it.
Your brand will be stronger if you can overcome this fear of rejection, so if it’s not a part of your routine (yet), take the initiative and figure out how to incorporate it into your job search or networking strategy.
Follow-up opportunities for college students
- E-mail employers after a campus career fair to thank them for their time. In my office, we have a legendary story advisors always share with students about a campus recruiter who came to a career fair, handed out hundreds of business cards and received only six follow-up emails after the event. Those six students were invited to interview.
- Send a thank you note after an interview (whether it’s an informational or mock interview, or the real thing).
- Keep in touch with contacts after meeting at a conference, case competition, lecture, informational interview or any other campus event. This is probably the most intimidating kind of follow-up, but Ferrazzi has great advice on exactly how to do this.
Notice how a lot of these include a ‘thank-you’? Gratitude will get you far, and it’s difficult for others to reject your appreciation (as long as it is sincere).
Follow-up is also about following-through
Keep your promises and build your brand as someone who is reliable and gets things done:
- Keep all of the commitments you make when working on a group project for class – your classmates are your future colleagues
- Show up for employer events on campus when you told the campus recruiter you would be there
- Fulfill obligations to the student and community organizations in which you participate
- Don’t flake on meetings with your professors and TAs
- College is fun – and be sure to have lots of it – but don’t let the fun get in the way of keeping commitments
Actions speak louder than words, right? Follow-up is action. It proves to others you can deliver on your perceived value, which can make your job search more successful and help you meet whatever career goals you have set for yourself.
Kelly is a career advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she assists undergraduate business students with all aspects of their career development. Kelly received her masters degree in Higher Education/Student Personnel Administration from New York University, and her bachelors degree from UW-Madison, where she majored in Political Science and Women’s Studies. Connect with Kelly on Twitter, LinkedIn or BrazenCareerist.