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Follow up for the Win

   Article by Carole Martin

Your follow-up letter could be what sets you apart from other candidates. It could land you a job, so put some thought and effort into what you say.

To Send or Not to Send -- Does It Make a Difference?

Catherine was looking for a business analyst to fill a position that had been open for weeks. She was eager to hire but wanted the right person for the job. She had narrowed the field to three candidates: Jim, Kelly and Steven.

She had promised to call them by Friday, and on Wednesday afternoon she was still vacillating. Each had a strength she was looking for, but each also had some issues that made her hesitate. Jim had held several jobs in the last few years. Would he stick around for the tough times ahead? Kelly was ambitious but didn't have the necessary experience interacting with difficult people. Steven was the quiet type who hadn't revealed enough for her to learn what he could offer, particularly in terms of interfacing with other departments and working under pressure.

When Catherine opened her 42 emails that morning, she glanced over them and thought she saw Jim's name, but didn't take the time to read his email. She had 17 voice mails. There was one from Kelly, but she only listened long enough to hear that she was thanking her for the interview. She hadn't heard from Steven.

That afternoon, Catherine closed her door. She was going to catch up before making a decision regarding the business analyst position. First, she opened her mail. In the pile was a letter from Steven. It caught her attention because of the obvious thought that had gone into its composition, so she took the time to read on:

Dear Catherine,

Choosing the right candidate is not an easy task. I know, because I have been in your shoes before.

Based on our interview, I have done some thinking about the position and how I could bring added value to your organization and address some of the problems you discussed.

There was a spreadsheet included, containing issues Steven had picked up during the interview. He not only identified problems, but also showed how he could create solutions based on past experience. As Catherine read the letter, she became intrigued and liked what she saw. This guy not only heard the issues, but had also done some thinking and analysis. He looked beyond what was said in the interview, and this was a trait she was seeking. She wanted to talk with him again.

Don't assume the interviewer remembers everything you said or has an accurate picture of who you are. When three candidates are interviewed and compared, some of the highlights you hoped would be considered may be lost or forgotten.

The follow-up letter is more than a nice way of saying, "Thank you for the interview." Take advantage of this second chance to sell yourself. It is one more opportunity to tell them what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.

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