How To Write A Follow-Up Email That Will Land You The Job

You had coffee with someone from a company you'd love to work for. So how do you snag the gig? Like this.

A few years back, Alexandra Franzen had a problem: She was going after a copywriting gig but didn't have a ton of related experience. After an interview, the firm's director said that they "liked her spirit," but they couldn't hire someone with so few samples.

Feeling job-dumped, she was deflated. Then a light bulb when off.

"They wanted samples," the Daily Muse writer said to herself. "I’d show ’em samples."

But it'd be more than a mere sample: She'd send them pub-ready content for their soon to re-launch site. In so doing, she'd model the mantra of getting gigs gotten. Whether your quarry is Google, Amazon, or a raise, there are two parts:

  • show how well you can do the work
  • show why the company needs your work

The psychology underlying this practice of unstoppability: By showing what you're capable of and why the organization needs it in their life, you reduce the cognitive load of whether-or-nots for the hiring manager.

In other words, we can make ourselves obvious hires.

The follow-up is part of that practice, as Franzen evidences. She did so by writing a concise, signal-filled email to the agency director, thanking her for her time and adding an ever-so-subtle addendum:

“Here are 10 tagline options to consider as you revamp your brand. No charge. Enjoy!”

The director's reply:

“These taglines are better than anything we’ve come up with on our own. Thank you. Let’s set up a meeting so you can get started on writing the rest of our site content.”

So the prescriptive key to the follow-up email is actually two things, as per Franzen's example:

  • Keep the follow-up concise
  • Include a burst of organization-needed helpfulness

This is the sort of insight that informs just about any sort of communication, including, daresayit, writing for the web: We want our messages to be as easy to take in as possible and have surprising amounts of helpfulness. In other, shorter words, they should have the minimum transaction cost for the reader and the maximum utility. And like Franzen, we can become obvious hires.

Next step: Become concise.

Hat tip: Daily Muse

[Image: Flickr user S. Carter]

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7 Comments

  • Jodelle

    A nice reminder of the importance of conciseness and capitalizing on the skills you know the organization needs.

    Last year, I got a job by tweeting the CEO of an internet company, letting her know that I found some glaring editorial mistakes on their website. When she asked me to shoot her an email, I let her know that I've also applied for the writer/editor position they recently advertised. Within a couple of days, I got an interview and a job.

  • Anthony Reardon

    Some great comments here!

    Social media is an ideal opportunity for a professional to demonstrate what they can do.

    Best, Anthony 

  • The naked recruiter

    This tactic works great for a startup-- IF you are right on target. Off-target guesses will just get you kicked out of the process. On the other hand, most corporations have a bit too much hubris to do anything more than dismiss you out of hand with a tactic like this. 

  • mhensgen

    I found this very useable and easy-to-understand.  And most important ACTIONABLE! Although certainly the bigger companies will shield themselves from unsolicited outside ideas via their Legal  depts, the entry level cos where a newbie needs a start may be more open.

    And additionally, even if the submitted ideas are B's instead of A+, te submitter will be seen as having iniative and enthusiasm....priceless in the beginning job derby!!!

  • BenGleck

    This is fairly obvious to people interviewing for sales positions, because an interview is a situation in which you're selling yourself. So sharp salespeople--really, ones with any common sense--use it to clearly demonstrate their rapport building, probing, objection handling, and closing skills.

    Transferring this line of thinking to this case, the light bulb that would have gone off in my mind would have been to write a follow-up in the form of a copywritten ad, not just tag lines. In the 'salesperson' scenario above, the latter would be like demonstrating the ability to handle one aspect of the sales process, such as prospecting. But--whatever works is good!

    The key is to demonstrate the skills you have that have direct bearing on the job at hand. You should demonstrate them during the interview, and preferably before then. It's actually the interviewer's job to test you for them, not merely to ask you whether you can meet the job's requirements or not.

    When the interview is insufficient to convince the interviewer of your ability and you remain interested in the position, you must persist. Your follow-up correspondence is your next opportunity, and you should make the most of it.

  • Jim McNamara

    Interesting.  A number of years ago I was in the hunt for a job and the President of a small services company interviewed me for a customer services position.  He asked me to write him a letter explaining why he should hire me.  

    My letter included the line, "While I know absolutely nothing about your company and your industry, in a few months I'll be conversant in all operations and after a few more months, I'll be the answer man for the company."

    He hired me and I backed up what I'd written with action.  I did become the answer man, I did become conversant in all company operations, and after four years, became a vice-president of the company with unequaled responsibility.