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How do I follow up on an application? Email from a 1L

I have been asking some 3L’s what the best thing to do is after sending in an application to an employer, and I’ve got very mixed answers.

They are correct: it depends.

I was wondering specifically about calling then after sending it. Do you believe that it is necessary/helpful/unhelpful calling an employer after sending in an app?

You need not call after sending an application to make sure that it has been received. You should, on the other hand, feel free to call a week to 10 days after the deadline to inquire “Where are you in the hiring process?? Why? Because you want to get a sense of the employer’s timeline: are they starting to interview? Will the process be delayed because the managing partner is in a trial?

Does it matter if the job is posted on Symplicity or another electronic site or if I have written an unsolicited application?

If you are sending an unsolicited application, you might try reframing your application as a networking contact. E-mail or call the person who might hire you (as opposed to the recruiting administrator who will manage the hiring process in a large organization) and ask for a meeting to learn about the firm, agency or practice. Make yourself a networker – energetic, optimistic and curious.

If calling is a good idea, is it acceptable to leave a message? (if not, is there a preferable time of the day to call?)

Using voicemail is an EXCELLENT idea. Make sure to speak slowly and repeat your phone number. One of the most annoying conversations you might ever have is with someone who insists that she tried to call you all last week but alas – she never left a message. How could you have ever known that she was trying to reach you? Telepathy is not a job search tool.

Who is the best person to try to contact (especially for small/medium firms)?

At a small or medium firm, one without an office manager, your best bet is to contact the assistant to the person to whom you applied. If you are politely curious and nice, she (most likely) might give you a sense of how large the stack of resumes might be, where the firm is in the hiring process, and whether her boss would be amenable to a networking meeting.

Most importantly what should I say (a rough script might help)?

If you are checking on the status of the search:
“My name is John Jones. I am a first year student at the University of Minnesota Law School who sent an application for the law clerk position that Mr. Smith posted at my school last week. Could you let me know where you are in the hiring process??

If you are calling to set up a networking meeting with a person to whom you have written an unsolicited resume:
“My name is John Jones. I am a first year law student at the University of Minnesota Law School interested in litigation practice. I have learned that you, too, attended [the U of MN, my undergraduate school, my high school] and I hope that you might be able to take a few minutes to talk to me about your practice and what I might do to prepare to be a litigator.

Finally long after sending the app should you call?

Call a week to 10 days after the job posting closes. For an unsolicited resume that you are reframing into networking, also wait a week to 10 days.