It can often be tricky to gauge what tone or language is appropriate when speaking with a prospective employer - especially if you've never had a job before. Should I call? Should I follow up? Why have I not heard back? These may be just some of the questions you encounter during your job hunt.
As a general rule, we advise you not to call the employer unless they actively invite you to do so since a phone call can seem a bit intrusive. Nowadays the most common form of communication between an employer and candidate is email. After you have received your first email from the employer showing interest in your application (if you apply through TalentPool you will be introduced to the employer via email) we recomend responding as quickly as you can. Never worry about looking too keen for the role, this is not the time to play it cool! Check your emails regularly throughout the day and always try to respond within 24 hours as an absolute maximum. Any later than this, begin your email with: many thanks for your email and apologies for the delayed response."
If there is a valid reason for your lack of responsiveness, it's a good idea to briefly outline this. For example, I am currently out of the country with limited internet access. However, don't make up a ludicrous excuse here to justify your lateness - best to just get on with the process!
If the employer hasn't responded as soon as you would have expected them to, we recommend waiting 7 days before contacting them yourselves to follow up. This should only be a gentle nudge, for example:
Hi Employer's first name,
I'm just getting in touch to follow up on my last email. Please let me know whether you would still be interested in proceeding with my application for the Job title role. I am very happy to answer any questions you may have about my CV.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Your first name
If you still havent heard back from the employer after 10 days, we suggest sending a friendly reminder:
Hi Employer's first name,
Following our email exchange almost 2 weeks ago, can I assume that I have been unsuccessful in my application for the Job title role?
Please let me know either way whether you will be progressing my application; I am still very interested in the role.
Your first name
If you receive an out of office email from the employer, take this into account and adjust your following up accordingly.
Always double check whose responsibility it is to follow up on the next step of the process. It may be up to you to reach out to the employer’s colleague to arrange an interview time or the employer may have stated that they’ll be contacting you about a call. If you are unsure, always double check. It's also very important that you start entering all the next steps in your calendar - the more roles you apply for the harder it will get to remember and keep track of your interview dates, application deadlines, phone interview dates etc.
Appropriate tone & correct etiquette: Although email may seem like a casual medium, when communicating with potential employers you must maintain a professional tone (even if it feels relatively informal). Try and match your level of formality to theirs though - being overly formal when they are greeting you on first name terms might raise issues of compatibility with the company.
Always proofread: Double check the correct spelling of the recipient's name and never send an email without double checking the entire message for spelling and grammar mistakes. Careless mistakes can lead to misunderstandings and can suggest that you are not taking the application seriously enough.
Post-interview: After an interivew, don't be too quick to assume that the interview process is over. A follow-up email is a great way of further separating yourself from the many other qualified candidates you're up against. Keep it brief - your prospective employer will have already formed a clear opinion of you during the interview - but make sure to thank them for their time and express how much you enjoyed meeting them. Your aim here is to stay fresh in the interviewer's mind and it could mean the difference between them ultimately choosing you over another candidate!
The employer will usually have ended the interview giving an indication of how long it will be until you hear back from them. If an employer hasn’t got back to you when they said they would, wait an extra day before following up, e.g. if they’ve said 3 days, wait until the 4th day to reach out to them via email to find out what the status is of your application.
Handling rejections: It's inevitable that you'll encouter a rejection or two along the way. Don't get disheartened - remember if you're not right for them then they're probably not right for you either! Always ask for feedback though and just learn from your experience for the next time.
Responding to an offer: Once an offer has been made, you should confirm within 48 hours. The employer will usually set a deadline of when they need to hear back regarding your decision. If there is anything you’re unsure about, ask as soon as possible after the offer has been made. This will make the offer process quicker and smoother.
Perhaps you'll find yourself in a position where you're rejecting the employer's offer. If this happens, just remain professional, honest and polite. Explain your reasons for doing so and remember to thank them for their time.
If at any point you change your mind about the role, you must tell the employer. Do not ignore them. It is vital that you send an email saying you do not wish to progress your application. An employer will always understand and will appreciate you telling them. It is very rude to ignore any emails or calls from employers and may come back to bite you if you ever end up doing work with them in the future. Hiring managers talk and the business world is surprisingly small so make sure you don’t build yourself a bad reputation before you’ve even entered the workplace!
To make things extra clear and easy for you, we've created a style guide table below for you to refer to when communicating with employers:
|What the employer says||What you reply|
|Dear [Name]||Dear [Name]|
|Hi [Name]||Hi [Name]|
|Name||Dear or Hi [Name] depending on formality of the rest of the email|
|“I am writing to…”||Formal response required|
|Best wishes||Yours sincerely|