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Following Up With a Legal Employer After Sending a Resume

published January 10, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 77 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
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The final envelope is licked, and the last stamp is put on. You hear a loud thud as the pile of resumes hits the bottom of the mailbox at the post office. Hold on! Now is not the time to sit back with your feet up and wait for the phone to ring. Follow-up calls need to be made, and resumes need to be tracked. You need to keep tabs on which firms you have sent resumes to so that you do not duplicate your efforts. As a working paralegal, one of your jobs is to keep the attorneys you work for highly organized. Now is the time to keep those skills in practice by organizing yourself.

You can create a resume-tracking table using the “tables” feature of your word-processing program. As each resume is sent out, note the date it was sent and the name of the firm or corporation to whom it was sent.

A more up-to-date method of resume tracking is to utilize a good contact manager software program. These easy-to-use, reasonably priced programs allow you to track resumes along with all follow-up calls. You can set the “alarms” and program your computer to sound an alarm on the day, too. The program allows for one or multiple contacts at the firm, phone numbers, faxes, E-mail, action taken, results of last contact, and more. You can even send letters through the program.

When should you follow up on an outstanding resume? A few days? A few weeks? The trick is letting potential employers know you are very interested and enthusiastic without becoming a pest. Personnel managers quickly become exasperated with overeager job hunters who plague them every few days with phone calls or who drop in unexpectedly. That is one way to ensure that you will not get the job. A safe assumption is to allow three days to one week to follow up. This should give the firm ample time to collect and mull over a good selection of resumes. Any more time than that and the resume gets cold, too soon and you may appear to be too anxious.

Sometimes you can take your cue about when to start making follow-up calls from the advertisement for the job. Some positions will indicate a closing date, specifying when all resumes must be received. It is not appropriate to make a follow-up call before that closing date has passed. Most employers prefer to choose from as large a pool of applicants as possible. It is rare that they would begin setting interviews before the closing date has passed. If such a deadline is indicated in the advertisement, you should wait a day or two past that date for the firm to contact you. Then you can make your follow- up call.

See 6 Things Attorneys and Law Students Need to Remove from Their Resumes ASAP If They Want to Get Jobs with the Most Prestigious Law Firms for more information.

If you are doing blind mailings (i.e., not responding to any particular ad in the paper, but just sending resumes out to a list of firms), the firm will not be having to sift through a stack of resumes, since yours will probably be the only one they receive at that moment in time. It is acceptable to follow up the resume with a call a little sooner, waiting five to seven days before calling. This will give the personnel manager time to have received and read your resume, but not so much time that he or she will forget who you are.

With any luck, you may not have to follow up. You may begin receiving calls from the firms to schedule you for an interview. If this happens, note this on the tracking chart or in your contact manager and jot down the date and time of the interview in the appropriate columns. You can use the final column, “Comments/Other,” to note the name of the person you interviewed with, any information about when they would be contacting you next, your thoughts about the firm (too big, too small, nice office, etc.), and any follow-up information the firm requested of you.

If you do need to make follow-up calls, note the dates of the calls and the results in the appropriate columns. If the follow-up results in an interview are being scheduled, you can enter that information. If the firm tells you they have not completed the review of incoming resumes, make a note to follow up again in a week’s time.

Of course, there is always the possibility that the human resources manager will tell you that the position has been filled or that there are no openings at this time. Although this may sound somewhat final, there is always the possibility that things could turn out differently. Suppose the person who accepted the position was given a huge raise by her old firm and decided not to make the change after all? What if three days after you are told there are no openings, one of the paralegals walks into the manager’s office and gives two weeks’ notice? These things happen. So if you receive a “negative” response, don’t dismiss it too quickly. Very pleasantly express your disappointment by telling the personnel manager how much you would have enjoyed working at the firm. Ask whether the firm would be willing to keep your resume on file for a while in the event another opening comes up. Use the situation to make a good parting impression and sell yourself a little. You never know when these extra efforts will pay off.

Checklist for Great Follow-Ups
  • Make sure you have a designated hiring authority’s name to whom to direct your resume.
  • Is your cover letter customized according to the job for which you are applying?
  • Is your cover letter free of typos and personally signed?
  • Does the cover letter contain a phone number where you can be reached during the day? Did you include a private voice-mail number? , E-mail?
  • Is the envelope appropriately addressed? (Do NOT send a handwritten envelope—ever.)
  • Did you enter the data into your contact manager or on your resume-tracking form?
  • Have you marked your calendar for follow-up?

Resume-tracking table
  • Date Resume Sent
  • Position
  • Firm or Company
  • Attention
  • Phone Number
  • Follow-up
  • Results
  • Interview.
  • Follow-up Results

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Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.