Pleasantly Persistent: 5 Rules for Effectively Following Up

Author: Elliott Bell

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about his job search that went something like this:

Friend: I wrote to him last week and still haven’t heard back. It’s so frustrating.

Me: Why not follow up and check in?

Friend: I don’t want to be annoying.

I understand the fear. No one wants to be annoying or bothersome to a professional contact, especially when you want a job, meeting, sales dollars, or something else very important from that person.

But here’s the rub. The average person can get a few hundred emails a day. That makes it pretty tough to respond to all of them, and things naturally fall to the bottom of the list. If you don’t get a response, it doesn’t mean that someone’s ignoring you—it just may mean that he or she is too busy.

So, to the question: Should you follow up? Absolutely. In fact, it’s your job. And how often should you do so? My philosophy is: As many times as it takes. The important thing is to do it the right way. Or, as I call it, to be “pleasantly persistent.”

Here are a few tips on how to (nicely) follow up with that hiring manager, sales lead, or VIP—and get the answer you’re looking for.

Rule 1: Be Overly Polite and Humble

That seems obvious enough, but a lot of people take it personally when they don’t hear back from someone right away. Resist the urge to get upset or mad, and never take your feelings out in an email, saying something like, “You haven’t responded yet,” or “You ignored my first email.” Just maintain an extremely polite tone throughout the entire email thread. Showing that you’re friendly and that you understand how busy your contact is is a good way to keep him or her interested (and not mad).

Rule 2: Persistent Doesn’t Mean Every Day

Sending a follow-up email every day doesn’t show you have gumption or passion, it shows you don’t respect a person’s time. The general rule of thumb is to give at least a week before following up. Any sooner, and it might come off as pushy; let too much time pass, and you risk the other person not having any clue who you are. I typically start off with an email every week, and then switch to every couple of weeks.

Rule 3: Directly Ask if You Should Stop Reaching Out

If you’ve followed up a few times and still haven’t heard back, it’s worth directly asking if you should stop following up. After all, you don’t want to waste your time, either. I’ll sometimes say, “I know how busy you are and completely understand if you just haven’t had the time to reach back out. But I don’t want to bombard you with emails if you’re not interested. Just let me know if you’d prefer I stop following up.” Most people respect honesty and don’t want to waste someone’s time, and they’ll at least let you know one way or another.

Rule 4: Stand Out in a Good Way

I once had someone trying to sell me something that I was remotely interested in but that was nowhere near the top of my priority list. Every week, he’d send me a new email quickly re-explaining what he sold—as well as a suggestion for good pizza to try around the city. Why? He had seen a blog post where I mentioned I’d eat pizza 24/7 if I could, and cleverly worked that into his follow-up. It made him stand out in a good way, and as a result, we eventually had a call .

The lesson: If done well, a little creativity in your follow up can go a long way. If you’re following up about a job, try Alexandra Franzen’s tips for giving the hiring manager something he or she can’t resist.

Rule 5: Change it Up

If you’re not connecting with someone, try changing it up. In other words, don’t send the exact same email at the same time of day on the same day of week. Getting people to respond can sometimes just come down to catching them at the right time. If you always follow up in the morning, maybe try later in the day a few times.

Remember: If someone does ask you to stop following up, stop following up. But until you hear that, it’s your responsibility to keep trying.

Photo of woman emailing courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Attention Job Seekers: Every Recruiter Can't Find Every Candidate a Job


Author: Kristina Evans

As a job seeker, it can be difficult to find your own footing in your personal job search.  Oftentimes, turning to a recruiter can be beneficial in honing in on the right job opportunities, brushing up your interviewing skills and resume feel, and taking some of the hard work off of your plate while searching for your next gig.

However, it is important to be mindful that every recruiter you connect with will not be able to help you find the right job, or give you the advice you are seeking to have solid footing in your respective industry.

And, please do not get confused with my message here.

I am not saying that to be rude.

I am saying that because most recruiters are limited in their own regard.  They have certain industries they recruit for, certain niches, and to be quite honest - aren't necessarily the right person to help you find your dream job.

For example, if I am a Software Engineer searching for a new position, I would not reach out to a recruiter in the Accounting & Finance industry that is specifically finding placements for entry level Accountants and Financial Analysts, and expect solid help.  This just would not make sense.

Chances are that this recruiter will not be able to help you.

That doesn't mean the recruiter won't know someone who can help you, but be sure to gauge your reach out to this person accordingly with a message like the following:

Hi Mrs. Recruiter Not in My Industry,

Thank you for the recent connection.  

After reviewing your profile here on LinkedIn, I understand that you are a trusted and well-established recruiter in the Accounting and Finance space.  Although I am a Software Engineer searching for my next opportunity, I understand that you do not recruit in this space.  However, please let me know if you have a recommendation or two for a recruiter specifically in the technology space that can possibly be of assistance to me in my quest for finding my next career opportunity.

Your assistance is not expected, but I would greatly appreciate any information or resources you can provide to me.


Mr. Candidate 

I can't speak on behalf of every recruiter.

Personally, I would love to help each and every person that comes my way.  I have a big heart, and I empathize with those looking for an immediate job opportunity.

However, it just is not feasible.  

I will always work to help those that are relevant to my industry and my niche, and ensure those that are not relevant are provided with any resources or information that may be of help.

So, as a job seeker, do continue to reach out to recruiters, but try to be mindful of what type of recruiter you are reaching out to - including their industry, their location and geographical span, their expertise, and their niche.

Don't be afraid to reach out, but...

Just tailor your message accordingly so you are increasing the likelihood that the recruiter will respond and will be able to pass on information that will be beneficial to you, such as:

A referral to another recruiter in your industry.

A pointer or two about your resume in general.

Links to information or resources that may help you in your search [i.e. niche specific job boards, job board apps, recruitment firms, etc.].


© Kristina Evans dedicates her free time (if that even exists) to (typically) writing about how musical lyrics, poetry, and literature can provide professional meaning and motivation to the world.  She also writes about recruiting, human resources & marketing/personal branding.

Like [or don't like] what you read?  Please take the time to let me know by liking [or not liking], commenting & sharing this post.

Also, check out other posts by visiting my profile.

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4 Non-Annoying Ways to Follow Up After an Interview

Author: Forbes Contributor

You landed the interview, and as far as you’re concerned? You nailed that sucker.

Or, you met with a recruiter who seemed super interested and incredibly connected with the exact kinds of companies for whom you want to work.

She said, “Keep in touch!”

Awesome. But a couple of weeks have gone by and nothing’s happened. So what do you do now? Can you follow up with her without reeking of desperation or looking like a pest?

This topic freaks a lot of job seekers out. Many people, even when they know they truly lit the interview on fire, would rather do absolutely nothing than risk looking stupid or making the wrong follow-up move.

But that’s what’s stupid. Because staying top of mind is incredibly important—and not just for the job at hand. Even if you’re not the right candidate for a particular position (or the position is filled before you can really show the company your amazingness), wowing the right decision maker—a recruiter, an HR person, or a hiring manager—can be incredibly valuable down the line.

With that in mind, here are a few ways you can ease the “staying in touch” part of the job search equation:

1. Ask About Next Steps (Before You Leave the Interview)

As a recruiter, it stuns me that so few people end the conversation with this interview question. But if you ask the interviewer what happens next, you know exactly when it’s acceptable to follow up. If the she says she’ll be contacting candidates within a week, and it’s day 9? It’s completely OK to touch base and remind her of the timetable she gave you. Don’t be pushy, but a quick note is perfect:

“Hi Sue—I hope you’re having a great week. You mentioned that your team would be finalizing a hiring decision on the Marketing Manager position this week. I’m eager to hear when you have an update. And certainly, if I may provide any additional information to support your decision-making process, please let me know!”

2. Get That Thank-You Note Out (With Lightning Speed)

Thank-you notes matter: They give you a terrific opportunity to follow up with the decision-maker right away. I encourage job seekers to get thank-you notes out (to each individual they’ve met in the interview process) immediately after the interview. Same day. From your laptop in the parking lot, if you really want to wow them.

Use this moment to affirm to the hiring manager that you’re on top of things and would bring a ton of value into the position for which you’re interviewing. Make it easy for them to decide on you.

3. Ask if You Can Connect via LinkedIn (Then Do)

Hey, this is a potential long-term professional relationship in the making. So it’s perfectly appropriate to connect on LinkedIn after the interview. That said—you don’t want to ambush anyone with your request, or leave the decision-maker wondering what your motives are (and please—no generic connection requests!). Instead, you should create a logical reason for connecting, then ask if she’s OK with it while you’re at the interview.

“You want to start dragon boat racing? I’d love to introduce you to my former colleague. He leads a dragon boat team right here in Portland.”

Or maybe, “I read a New York Times article about how Coca-Cola KO -0.94% is employing brand strategy in this same way. Did you see it? I’ll be happy to forward it to you.”

There’s your in. And once you’re in? You can build a long-term professional relationship with that person, whether you end up landing the job or not.

4. If Things Drag Out, Check in (Periodically)

This is the job search technique people tend to stink at the most—the periodic check-in. But it’s so important, and it should be used throughout your career to keep your network fresh and engaged.

Now, this is not about harassment: “Did I get the job?” “Do you have a job for me?” “Did you make a decision?” Not at all. It’s about offering something of value to your contact. And in doing so, you will also (by default) remind her that you’re still out there.

This could mean forwarding an article that you think she’ll find interesting, or congratulating her if you notice she’s been promoted or earned some sort of recognition. Maybe thanking her for a bit of advice that you employed. Keep it simple and brief, and don’t ask for anything back. If that person hears from you and has an update? She’ll absolutely be in touch. Try:

“Hi Sue, We spoke last month about the product manager position at XYZ Industries. In our conversation, you highlighted some emerging trends in food packaging. I noticed this attached article about the same topic and thought of you. No response necessary. I hope you find the information useful!”

Nothing elaborate, and once a month is probably about right if you don’t get much response. But you can be assured that Sue will remember you, and in a good way if you’re helpful and non-pesky in the follow-up.

The bottom line is: Stay top of mind. It's half the battle.

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