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The Office Life: Following Up on a Resume

Dear Belle,

I submitted my summer internship applications for various Members of the House and Senate, and I wanted your advice on the process. Should internship applicants follow up on their application? During your time as an intern coordinator, did you feel that applicants who send follow-up emails are pushy or trying too hard? If you do suggest following up, when do you believe is the best time to send such an email?

Senator [Freshman Senator’s] office does not have an intern coordinator or internship program set up yet, but they are currently working on setting that up. I was told to submit my interest by email with a resume and cover letter. Should I follow up in a couple of weeks?

Thanks, Z

For advice on applying for Capitol Hill jobs or internships, check out our past series, Finding a Hill Job Part I and Part II.  I also have a more in-depth post on a few dos and don’ts for jobseekers, and some general tips for Hill interns.  But let me tackle your question about following up on an application separately.

If you’re serious about being hired for a position, I highly recommend that you follow up on your resume.  Most HR people recommend that you wait one week to follow up.  The only exception to this might be if it’s an older job posting.  For example, if they posted the ad on March 5th and you sent your resume in on March 20th, you might want to wait just three days unless the ad specifies a closing date.

As to how you should follow up, if the job listing says specifically “no calls, no drop bys,” do.not.call and do.not.drop.by.  You might think that you’re showing initiative, but what you’re really doing is showing your potential employer that you can’t follow directions.

However, if it doesn’t say no phone calls, I’ve found that phone calls are sometimes more effective than e-mails.  Even if all you do is wind up leaving a voicemail, it might cause the intern coordinator to take a closer look or another look at your resume.

That being said, this is a one shot deal.  If you don’t hear back after the first phone call, don’t call repeatedly.  One phone call is interested, multiple phone calls is annoying.

If you decide to send an e-mail, make it short and to the point.  Reiterate your interest in the position, re-attach your resume and be sure to include your contact information.  I also liked it when prospects mentioned something we were doing on the Hill (“I know that the staff is very busy working on the budget resolution”) and/or put the ball for moving forward in their court (“Is there a convenient time that I could call you to discuss my resume?”).

As for best times to call or e-mail, that varies widely between offices.  However, most Hill offices are less busy on Fridays and Mondays.

I don’t recommend sending e-mail between 4PM on Friday night and 10AM Monday morning.  In my experience , these e-mails get lost in the pile of “catch up work” from the weekend.  Instead, send an e-mail after 10AM, but before lunch.

For phone calls, I always found that the mornings were the worst time to call.  The most common committee hearing times are 10AM and 11AM, and visiting groups usually schedule Hill meetings for those same times.  I’d recommend calling in the early afternoon, sometime between 1:45PM and 2:45PM.  That way you catch them after they’ve eaten lunch (hopefully), but before they start count down to the end of the day.

If HR folks, intern coordinators or other Hill staff have something to add, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

P.S. I also found this article on The Ladders that I found informative.

Leave a Reply to Belle · cancel comment

    6 comments

  1. Katie says:

    Hi I work in HR, and I definitely agree with the do not stop by the office advice. I once had a man come in and told the secretary that he would not leave the office until he spoke to me, and proceeded to read in our waiting room…

    Also-please make sure you follow the application directions. I hate when people email me their resume trying to apply for the job when the job description specifically says to submit an online application.

    Lastly, if you are notified that you are not moving forward in the process (and you only submitted an application), please don’t email asking why. It might vary from office to office, but here it is not our policy to give feedback on applications/resumes. We receive many more applications than openings.

    March 20, 2013/Reply
  2. Vanessa says:

    My experience is mainly with applying for permanent positions on the Hill since I got both my congressional internships thanks to personal connections. But I agree with Belle’s advice. I generally send a follow up via e-mail and I think a week is a reasonable amount of time for even the busiest person. I also think e-mail is a good way to follow up in almost all circumstances because it’s low key. The person can choose to respond when they’re ready/have a chance or they can ignore it altogether, making it less likely to come across as pushy.

    My dad, who has hired many many people in his 2 1/2 decades in the corporate world, has said before that I have nothing to lose by being persistent. I tend to disagree with him on this point though; there’s a potential position I could lose! I’ve definitely never followed up in person unless a contact passed on my resume on my behalf and then recommended that I stop by in person as well. I had far too many professors in college who had nit picky rules simply for the sake of seeing who would follow them to ignore the “no calls or office visits” disclaimer in many job listings

    March 20, 2013/Reply
  3. Little B says:

    Belle, do you think these rules are Hill internship specific, or could they branch out to private sector? I’ve got a job application in that I haven’t heard anything about and was thinking about calling to follow up but I wanted to get other people’s take on it first!

    March 21, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I would absolutely call if you haven’t heard back in a week.

      March 21, 2013/Reply
  4. Isabel says:

    Dear Belle,

    As a recent applicant for an internship with a House Committee, I have a question. I recently called the office to follow up and reiterate my interest for the internship. The person who answered said there was no recruitment manager to speak with. Can you please clarify if that means they are not accepting phone calls or if there was just no one to speak with at the moment? I am extremely interested in this internship and I want to demonstrate that while also ensuring my application isn’t overlooked. What should I do? They only provided a phone number on the online application page.

    I would very much appreciate a reply.

    Best,
    Isabel

    November 30, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Hi Isabel,

      It could be both. Things on the Hill are pretty busy during the day, so the person might have been busy. Likely the hiring person is the LD or the CoS. How did you submit the application if they only provided a phone number? I’d follow up the same way. Mention in (I’m assuming) email that you called, and that you wanted to reiterate your interest. Getting these jobs is hard. I would apply for a couple of more internships just in case. You could also send a paper thank you, but it would take about a week to arrive and go through the whole mail screening process.

      November 30, 2017/Reply