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The Business Etiquette of Following-Up After a Successful Job Search

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Summary: A brief guide to following-up with employers and job leads after you successfully complete a job search.

Exercise proper business etiquette by following up with employers and job leads after a job search.

The seasoned executive understands that good administration is based on efficient controls. The systematic approach is necessary to the successful functioning of all organizations and to the competent completion of any assignment. Good records are essential to an effective system. Unless he is a genius, the man who relies solely on memory, random methods, or intuition to administer a complex job is likely to find himself in serious difficulties due to neglect of detail or because he fails to follow up on important parts of his responsibilities.


The search for a new position is certainly one of the most significant projects that an executive ever undertakes. Therefore, good records are invaluable. They tell you where you have been, whom you have seen, and what the results were. They indicate to whom you should write or telephone. From them you can quickly learn what letters you have received and how you answered them. They show you what leads are hot, which possibilities of job openings may become probabilities if you talk to the right people.

Reliable records prevent you from making mistakes and accurate records assure consistency. They also help you avoid backtracking.

The Contents of Your Records

If your day-to-day records are complete and give you the information you require on the results of your job search quickly and accurately, that is all that is necessary. There is no reason to make them too elaborate, too detailed, or too complex. However, there are certain things you should keep in mind:
  1. Keep records of names and titles of all persons by whom you have been interviewed. Be sure you have the correct spelling of each interviewer's name and his/her proper job title.
  2. Be sure you have the exact name of each company you have visited. Attention to details is important.
  3. Get the correct address of the company on which you have called, also its zip code number.
  4. List the date of your call and the key facts of each interview. Note any mistakes you think you made during a job discussion. By analyzing mistakes you avoid repetition. Also, if you know specifically what was said during a particular interview, you can write a more effective follow-up letter.
  5. List the names and positions of all friends, business acquaintances, or executive recruiters to whom you have talked or written in connection with your job search. By each person's name indicate what leads, if any, he/she has given you, what suggestions were made, what assistance (letters, telephone calls) was offered. Keep these people informed of the progress of your search, especially when leads they have given you develop into good employment prospects or when suggestions they have made appear to be paying dividends. A short note or a brief telephone call is all that is necessary.
  6. If, during the course of an interview, the name of a mutual friend or business acquaintance comes up, make a note of it. Perhaps a telephone call or a letter to him may bring an offer of help or advice on how to proceed.
  7. Get the names of the secretaries of executives who interview you. A secretary can be very helpful, and it is simply good sense to know who they are.
  8. Keep an accurate list of telephone numbers, and make sure they are always with you. Jot down extension numbers of executives whom you wish to call. Having telephone numbers is a great timesaver and useful when putting through calls from busy public telephone booths.
  9. Keep carbon copies of all letters you write to anyone regarding your job search. Attach replies to your carbons as they arrive.
  10. When you finally land a job, inform all people who have assisted you in your search.


After an interview, it is not only courteous but good business to write the executive who has talked to you thanking them for the courtesy of their time. Such a letter serves a double purpose. It conveys your appreciation of the opportunity given to you to discuss your qualifications for the job and provides another chance to call attention to your abilities. Therefore, if you write a good follow-up letter, you are not only enhancing your chances of landing the job, but you set yourself apart from others.

A follow-up letter need not be too elaborate. It is simply a note to thank the executive who has given you help in your job search, or to express your gratitude to an employer who has give you an interview. In the latter case, comment on why you think you are qualified to fill his position or bring up facts that you failed to mention during the interview which may be helpful in obtaining a favorable decision.

Also, thanking business acquaintances or friends who are helping you takes little time or effort, but the investment is worthwhile.


There are many explanations why a job hunter fails to thank the people who assisted him in his search. Among them are:
  1. So many calls have been made and so many people are involved that it is too much trouble.
  2. No records have been kept on whom to write.
  3. There is a tendency for the job hunter to forget that during a job search they were dependent on the efforts and goodwill of other people.
  4. They don't like to remember those unhappy times when they were on their uppers.

The wise executive is always careful of his personal public relations.

There may even be times when you wish to show your gratitude to a business friend who has played a key part in opening the door to your new assignment. In regards to giving gifts, here are some guiding points:
  1. Give presents only to people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in giving you a helping hand.
  2. The present is a token of your appreciation and not a payoff. Keep the cost of the gift within the bounds of good taste.

In regards to giving thanks and gift giving, here are some suggestions you may find helpful:
  1. A letter, a telephone call, or a visit is usually all that is required to express your ‘thanks’ to anyone who has assisted you on a job search.
  2. If you think someone has been extraordinarily helpful and you wish to give them a present, don't go overboard. The present is simply visible evidence of your gratitude, never a payment for a service rendered.
  3. If you give a subordinate of a friend or business acquaintance (i.e., his secretary, assistant) a present, it is wise to get permission from the superior beforehand. Also, indicate the type of present you wish to give. It might even be a good idea to ask for suggestions.
  4. When you send a present, make sure that a personal note accompanies it. This should express your appreciation for the help you have received.
  5. Never give money. This is always in bad taste.
  6. Be sure your present is suitable and appropriate to the person receiving the gift.


The odds are always with the individual who is careful, systematic, and thorough and the search for a new job is too serious to leave anything to chance.

If you can answer "Yes" to the following questions, you can be sure that you’re doing pretty well in following through with follow-up:
  1. Is my record of interviews up to date?
  2. Do I have the correct names, titles, telephone numbers, and addresses of executives to whom I have written, telephoned, or with whom I have visited?
  3. Are my notes on interviews accurate with what I have said/what has been said to me?
  4. Am I punctual in writing ‘thank you’ letters after interviews?
  5. Am I keeping people who are assisting me in my job search informed on progress?
  6. When I get direct help job leads, letters, or friends who make telephone calls on by behalf, do I call the person who has assisted me to thank him and to fill him in on the results of his efforts?
  7. After I have secured a new position, have I notified all persons I am no longer in the job market?
  8. If I have secured a new position because of direct intervention or the strong recommendation of a friend, have I written them after I have settled down in the job to let them know how I am doing?
  9. In writing letters of ‘thanks’ to people who have assisted me, have I personalized them?
  10. Do I remember that the best way I can thank the people who helped me find a new job is to be considerate and helpful to the next qualified person who requests my assistance in finding a position?
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