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You shake the Creative Director’s hand and turn around to leave his amazing corner office.

You did it. You nailed your interview for a graphic design job at the coolest company you’ve ever seen.

Suddenly while you’re getting your parking validated you think to yourself, “Should I send a thank you note?” And you find yourself at a crossroads.

Maybe the same one you’ve experienced after every interview.

Is following up after an interview an archaic practice to be tossed out (like leeching) or is it still considered good manners? Not shockingly (we’re a staffing agency), it’s a question we get often.

And it’s no wonder. There are many people in the creative world who think following up after an interview is not only uncool, but might cost you the position. And there are also ones who just don’t know if it’s the proper thing to do.

Let’s look at the the scenario above. You just met with one of the country’s hottest Creative Directors – do you really think you’re going to impress this guy with a cutesy LOL Cat e-card?

We agree, probably not.

Which is why we suggest follow up emails and non-cutesy e-cards (unless you find one that perfectly matches the one your interviewer absolutely loves).

And yes, we suggest sending a follow up after every single interview.

We’re not alone. In fact, almost every career site on the web, including Monster and CareerBuilder, agree that a follow up is a must.

Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide: Success Secrets of a Career Coach, pointed out in this article for Forbes that you should not only follow up, but do it as quickly as possible. “If you don’t, someone else may send a message more quickly,” Cohen said. We think that timeline is no longer than two days after you interview (preferably one).

But there’s bad news, along with Cohen, we agree these shouldn’t be quippy, short “Thank you for your time” missives. Veteran recruiter Tiffany Jennings says, “Much like each resume you send for a position, your thank you note should show that you listened to your interviewers, reinforce your interest in the job, and share what you feel you can bring to the team…not sound like you’re tapping your foot, still waiting.”

Sharing your value is important
. Remember, you’re selling the company on what you can do to make it better, and this, like your interview, is another great place to do it.

Tiffany also advised, “If you’re working with a recruiter ask them to take a peek at your note or email before sending it. They know their clients and will be able to tell you if you should change anything (if it’s too long, has the wrong tone, etc.)” Your recruiter wants you to get the job, so let them help you out.

The other burning question: Is there such a thing as following up too much, i.e., stalking? Yes.

If the recruiter or hiring manager you met tells you to wait a week before calling, listen to them. You can send the thank you right after the interview, but wait until that week passes before you reach out. Crossing that line is where you get into Stalkerland (and also brings your listening skills into question). Hey, if you told someone to call you in a week and they called you the next day, would you give them a job?

The folks you interviewed with understand that you’re waiting to hear back, and rest assured, they’d like to hire someone for their job, too – they have work to do! There are many, many things that can push out a hiring deadline: projects are put on hold, key staff members are out sick or on vacation, budgets change… so don’t just assume they’re trying to avoid you.

With the second round of follow ups you want to be brief, to the point, and have a positive attitude. You also may want to reiterate that you are excited about the opportunity. Once again, you’re trying to actually get the job. So being negative most often works against you in the end, since hiring managers will assume you’re going to bring that negativity into work!

As far as reaching out after the second missive, it’s also okay to check in to let them know if your circumstances have changed: you’ve been offered another job; you’re going on vacation and will be unavailable; or you’re being extended on a current project. This falls under the Common Courtesy Act of 1954.

One last piece of advice: absolutely, definitely, and positively proofread every email or note twice before sending. Poor spelling and bad grammar always sends the wrong message, especially when someone is looking to hire you and let you touch their own communications.

To recap, we believe that followup is absolutely critical – and it’s critical to get it right. What do you think?

Poll Questions

FYI – This poll closes at midnight Pacific Time on July 15th. The results of the poll will remain hidden until then so we can reveal the results in a follow up post early next week! Thanks for voting and all your comments!