by Rachel Smith
28 May 2021
Applying for jobs in a jostling, saturated market can be pretty rough.
You might feel like you’re lagging behind the people who jumped on the job two days before you. Or, you might see (as you can on some job platforms such as LinkedIn), that the job has already gotten 145 applications.
When faced with those odds, crossing your fingers can seem like the only power you have over the whole process. But there is something you can do to get a job interview.
It’s following up.
One of the last full-time jobs I held was in London. I was 23, working at The Guardian as a proof-reader and flatplan checker (for the princely sum of seven pounds an hour) and a role came up at IPC Magazines for a sub-editor. Oh, how I wanted it!
I applied. Then, I tracked down the chief sub’s number and gave her a brief call – once to let her know I’d applied and was so keen, then I followed up every few days to see how the hiring process was going, and to remind her of my qualifications and the positive contribution I could make to the role.
I got the interview, and the job. She used to joke, ‘I gave it to you so you’d stop ringing me’ but it was a strategy that paid off.
If you can’t follow up by phone, following up by email is the next best thing – and it can really set you apart from the other applicants who don’t bother.
Let me repeat that: it’s not fine to sit back twiddling your thumbs and thinking your cover letter and resume will speak for itself. It might, but if it’s a popular role it may get lost in the maelstrom of applications. So being proactive and making contact with the right people can get you noticed – and get you that job interview.
Here’s a handy script you could use (or modify) for your email follow-up (I’d recommend 2-3 days after applying):
I recently applied for the content writing role you advertised on Rachel’s List, and just wanted to follow up quickly to make sure you received my resume. I believe my qualifications and experience in [state your super powers here] make me a very strong contender for the role and I just wanted to reiterate just how interested I am in the opportunity. You may not be at interview stage yet, but if there’s a timeline for interviews or you have any questions for me prior to the process, you can reach me on [your mobile number].
Thanks so much for the consideration, and hope to chat soon.
I know following up can be tricky sometimes – especially if the ad is from a nameless person. Who to even start with? Well, the one thing in a journalist or writer’s favour is that you’re likely to be a very good researcher. You know how to do a little digging.
And if you know what the company is but don’t have a clue who posted the job, do a search on LinkedIn. If it’s a content role, you might look for a content manager, head of content, head of editorial, or head of marketing to reach out to. I’d also double up and reach out to the head of the company’s HR department. People talk, and you want them to talk about YOU.
If you can’t find the person’s email or reaching out to them via LinkedIn won’t work for some reason, search for their email on Hunter.io. And don’t forget to track your follow-ups in a tool like our free job tracker.
Got a tip or trick that’s helped you land a job interview in the past? We’d love you to share it in the comments!