Here’s a job seeker who crosses the line by a mile. While this script writer scores a few early points by following up with a new connection immediately, and including a summary of key experience and achievements, his follow-up quickly derails when he finds out that the development team is too busy to take on new projects at this time. Instead of bowing out gracefully as promised, this job seeker makes a series of missteps that entirely burns the bridge with his new connection–and likely with the entire company. Luckily, you can learn from his mistakes.
Here are 5 of the biggest follow-up mistakes to avoid:
- Rambling — Keep your first follow-up email as short as possible. You probably don’t need more than one paragraph to get your point across: remind the person how you met and why you’re interested in keeping in touch. Add a brief line reiterating your skills and experience, and don’t forget to thank them for their time.
- Negativity — Don’t downplay your own abilities and achievements. Even if you’re exploring a new field with little experience, stay positive and focus on your strengths. How can you translate your skills from one area to another? How would this person benefit from having you in their network? Keep your outlook bright, and you’ll make a positive impact.
- Being Overly Confident — On the other hand, there’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness (and our dear script writer crosses it right around “It’s no time for false modesty, I think you will be blown away by all of them.”) Avoid making assumptions on behalf of the other person–let them form their own opinions of you and your experience. Just as you would in your cover letter or resume, back up all your statements with facts from your experience and work history.
- Getting Defensive — This should really go without saying, but don’t question your connection’s opinion of your experience/skills/work by getting defensive – or even aggressive. Whether or not you agree with your contact’s opinions or advice, act like you’re taking their thoughts into consideration. Better to have a bruised ego than a burned bridge–and you just might learn what you need to do to get noticed.
- Not Accepting “No” — Sometimes no matter how well you think things are going, you wind up in the Rejected pile. Rather than trying to force the issue, thank the person once more for their time, ask if they could please keep you in mind for future opportunities, and bow out gracefully. But—and here’s the key!—actually bow out gracefully. Don’t email your contact four or five more times, and certainly do not insult them.
Avoid these (surprisingly common) follow-up missteps, and you’ll be more likely to make a lasting connection that could lead to the career move you’ve always imagined.