Job Hunting 101: Follow Up

Email Follow UpThis excellent column from Lee Rosen reminded me of a story I heard recently.

We all know it’s a tough job market, right? So it’s not surprising that hundreds of law students showed up to a public interest job fair, looking for work.

What is surprising is the account I heard from someone who was staffing a table at the event. This potential employer talked to 40 or 50 students throughout the day, and had several jobs to offer.

Take a guess how many people got in touch when the event was over, to express interest or just say, “Thanks, it was nice to meet you.”

ZERO. No one. Nada, zip, zilch.

Doesn’t that strike you as a little odd? Not a single person followed up. If anyone had, he said there’s a good chance they would have been hired.

Now maybe this organization just sucks and no one wants to work there, but I doubt that’s the case.

Don’t Drop the Ball

The reality — sadly — is that most students drop the ball on follow up.

Whether it’s because they don’t feel important enough, or they think they’re too busy, or whatever, very few people make even a minimal effort to send an email expressing interest.

And your email doesn’t have to be fancy! This is sufficient, if you’re interested in the job:

Ms. Smith, I enjoyed meeting you at the Public Interest Career fair on Monday. Thanks for taking the time to explain more about your important work with asylum seekers. I’m very interested in a summer position with your organization, and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. My resume and cover letter are attached. Thank you!”

And if you’re not interested? Follow up anyway!

Ms. Smith, I enjoyed meeting you at the Public Interest Career fair on Monday. Thanks for taking the time to explain more about your important work with asylum seekers. As we discussed, my interests are more on the criminal side, and I’d like to work with incarcerated youth. Is there anyone you’d suggest talking with who works in this area? My resume is attached for reference. I’d appreciate any leads. Thank you!”

Why bother sending an “I’m not interested” email? Because everyone knows each other. Law’s a small world, and you’ll eventually get routed to the right person if you ask enough.

So, the next time you go to a networking event and collect a bunch of cards, don’t throw them away! Get in touch with every single person, and I think you’ll find some good things happen in the long run.

— – —

Got any favorite follow up techniques? Share them in the comments.

Image by OmirOnia via stock.xchng.


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About Alison Monahan

Alison Monahan is the founder of The Girl's Guide to Law School, which helps law students and prospective law students get in to law school, get through, and stay true to themselves. Alison is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was a member of the Columbia Law Review and served as a Civ Pro teaching assistant. You can find her on Twitter at @GirlsGuideToLS.


  1. Do you have any suggestions for following up after sending the follow up email? I always follow up after meeting someone and getting their information, generally setting up a meeting. I then, of course, send a thank you for meeting with me email. After that, I know it is important to stay in touch, but how can I? I don’t really have anything to say and have already met them. This is the trickiest part of networking for me.

    • Alison Monahan says:

      One strategy you can use is to keep an eye out for items that might be of interest to them, and send those. Then it’s not like, “Hi, I wanted to keep in touch.” it’s more, “I saw this and thought you might find it interesting.” If you read a lot, you’ll inevitable come across things that are relevant — so it’s totally fair to send them over.

      Otherwise, after a certain point, a “Hey, we haven’t talked in a while. Want to grab coffee?” email can pay dividends.

      Best of luck!

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