Part III – The Follow-Up
In the Part I – The Preparation and Part II – The Interview of this “My First Job” series for new graduates, we have discussed how to draw your objectives and worked out how to obtain a balanced view of your personality and skills, along with the selection of the most adequate companies. You then performed the matching exercise between your desires/ambitions and retained the potential companies in your radar for your first job. If you’ve not yet come across my two previous articles, pls. quickly refer to Part I and II and read them before entering this new stage, the Follow-Up is a logical consequence of these preceding articles.
My God, I’ve sent dozens of spontaneous applications, and I got only two interviews, I had my interview six weeks ago and still no feed-back from their side, They said they would have called me in two weeks but after almost a month no sign from them ! Wow, I got my first employment agreement, should I sign it and send it back immediately or they’ll change their mind?
You’ve done everything you needed to and scrupulously followed a professional process to ensure the best chances of getting hired. Understandably is quite painful to find yourself in the so called “wait and see mode”. There are some ways of getting out of this stage. Here too, we’ll try to cautiously balance some tactics, behaviors and common sense.
But first keep thinking positively. Don’t let emotions divert you from your main goal: getting hired. A delay in a feedback is not necessarily a bad news!
Evaluate the situation
There could be several reasons why you did not get an answer from an employer. I remember when I was in your shoes, several years ago, I sent out almost 30 spontaneous applications, but I didn’t have any process to manage them in mind. Well, you know what, after two months no answer at all. I can’t tell how frustrated I was. As a young enthusiastic engineer, with great academic records (Hons), I thought the world was just there waiting for me. Obviously it was not the case. Why? You’ll discover it in few minutes.
Case I – No answer – no frustration
Suppose you’ve sent a dozen of resumé, completed with very tailored cover letters and related certificates to your target companies and you were not invited to any interview and get no answer at all from them. There might be some obvious reasons like:
- you sent them to the wrong address or location or wrong person in the organization, or wrong department
- you sent them in a bad moment i.e. periods related to financial closing/auditing processes or close to summer or Xmas holidays
- new graduates applications are evaluated in blocks and at given sessions and time, and yours simply fall in between two dates
- the company is not hiring right now
The wake-up call
Go back to your control list and verify the accuracy of your dispatching process, re-check the recipients, locations and names of appointed persons. You may call the company, HR dept. and ask whether they received your application, during this call you would also ask about periods and block assessments, if not mentioned in their website. Take this as an opportunity to gather additional information on internal organization and roles. Speak clearly and make sure they understood your name, smile on the phone.
Pretend an answer
Very often I see fresh graduates ashamed in managing this process, as they are not used to and in most cases they simply “do not want to disturb”. You shouldn’t! You’ve done your homework, you’ve prepared a sound documentation set, you’ve sent it to the appropriate companies, the ones you respect the most and that have put investments in new joiners at the top of their values and belief, so why should your worry about following-up. On the contrary, companies tend to be more positive and responsive with candidates that show tenacity and dedication in getting the job. Hence, find out what happened and agree on the very next action from their side, as you deserve your feed-back. It not only a question of politeness but also of business ethic, hence respect. In that sense, you must pretend an answer. And if the written answer you got is “at the moment we are not hiring”, take this as an opportunity again to re-get in touch with the company and understand if there are other open position in other departments for which you may have not applied for and that could motivate you. Take this chance to restate your interest for future opportunities. This will strengthen your positioning in their internal databases and you will certainly be contacted again in case of new open positions or for the next assessment session. Update your control list with full reports on the new communications you had and act accordingly.
Case II – After the interview session
No answer. You’re in the “wait and see mode”. A quite uncomfortable situation from which you have to escape very soon. Let’s see how. But, in the meantime, do not forget to manage the wake-up process as described in Case I above. This dual approach is essential to broaden the range of your possibilities and reducing the risk of waiting just for two answers.
Re-assess the situation and the process you applied. If in your mind, the interviews went quite well and you did agree on a certain number of actions you were expecting the company representatives to perform by a certain date, including, dispatch of documentation, phone call inviting your for a next step interview or internal tests, that did not materialize, you are certainly entitled to take the lead and get in touch with the interviewer(s) again. Better doing that initially by a gentle phone call, where you kindly ask the person if they already sent what agreed and by when. Sometimes it also happen that papers get lost or simply queued into another office or department, for a direct handling and never quit the company. This seldom happens in both large and mid sized organizations. Hence, in doing this follow-up you make a favor to both sides as you’re helping finding out what happened and you reposition your interest for the company and for the job. Speak clearly, be calm and smile on the phone, don’t your emotions prevail and close the follow-up professionally by agreeing on the very next step. Potentially a new meeting or getting a work proposal (wonderful!).
Case III – You got your first contract – manage the deadlines
Bingo!. But pls., no hassle now. Maybe it is not from the company that you loved most for starting your career, actually it is almost never the case, but at least you have it. This is a great moment and you must be proud of it. If you are waiting other possible proposals/interviews, as confirmed and agreed following your activities in Case I & II above, you may wish to take some time to see if there is something else falling in you basket. Don’t worry, companies know as well that young graduates are spotting the market in various dimensions hence, normally, they are not so surprised if you take some time to decide for signing and sending back the agreement. Buying time is also an art. Check if the proposal you got indicates an expiring date for returning the papers duly signed, and carefully watch and manage these dates as it could be so stupid to let vanishing all these efforts just for a bad time management. If you need some more time, inform the company and agree on a possible extension of the expiration date. Make sure you get this extension in writing, if any. In normal cases a mail from HR dept. could suffice. Before sending back your first employment agreement, share it with your parents, or more experienced friends as they may give you some additional tips based on their life experience, and if you’re ok with that, sign it, keep copy of the signed paper for your records and send it back to the appropriate person. About a week before starting the job, get in touch with HR dept. to confirm your arrival, date and location, and gather the name of the person in charge of your introduction. Just to make sure you’ll not start your first day walking around like an “alien” at company premises…Done, now you’re in.
Never give up! Getting the first job is a challenging process that needs a strong mental tenure. The more solid, tenacious in managing any single detail you are, the higher are your chances to get a sound first job. But remember, prefer the company that are the most respected, that have a strong corporate culture, and that invest the most on new graduates, and not necessarily the ones that have the most appealing rewarding package. You must be driven by your appetite to learn and grow, an adequate reward will be a logical consequence of your development and achievements and, as such, it will certainly follow in a balanced manner.
Good luck with your first job and…if you found this useful, do not hesitate to share it with colleagues and friends.