Pro-Tip to Secure the Perfect Legal Job: Writing an Excellent Follow-Up

What advice have you heard about “following up” with your interviewer? Do you write a card (because “no one sends cards anymore”) or do you send a follow up email (again, because “no one sends cards anymore”)? Is your message a brief “thank you for your time” or a substantive take-two where you address an area of concern?

The area of follow-up advice can be conflicting when it comes to the specifics; but there is a general consensus that: 1) it should be done; 2) it should be brief; and 3) it should help advocate for your candidacy. Whether you’re applying for a new job or just following up with a prospect, here’s my take as a legal recruiter of the best way to approach the “follow up.”

The content of the follow up should be personalized

Personalized follow-up notes take more time to write—but if you’re going to write something and expect someone to derive some meaning from it, you ought to spend a little more time to make the reader feel like you didn’t just copy the same note and send it to everyone else.

Consider:

                        Dear Interviewer,

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me on Monday. It was a pleasure getting to know you and your team. I look forward to staying in touch!

Sure, it says thank you and subtly lets them know that you expect to remain in communication—but anyone reading this knows that it could have been sent to any other person out there (and lets just say you addressed it to the wrong person—then the lack of any personalization will really sting).

This is what I call the TB;DR (too boring; didn’t read). There’s no value to the reader, and there’s no continued interest in the firm. It would be better NOT send any follow up at all.

Remember: if you send an email, there should be some added value to the reader, demonstrating that you want or deserve the job, and that you were genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity.

The follow-up should recall some of the highlights of your interview conversation

To quickly tweak a generic follow-up to add value to the reader, begin by recalling a highlight of your interview conversation.

Consider:

                        Dear Interviewer,

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me on Monday. I particularly connected with your advice about learning to be the “fixer” on a project, and enjoyed hearing about how your experience with the firm helped you become a “fixer.” From my first project as a law clerk to filing motions in my current role, I have always strived to be the one who solves problems. 

I also enjoyed learning more about the new technology practice at your firm—that’s part of the reason why I’m so drawn to this opportunity. I recently worked on a publication in that technology area, linked (here), and would love the opportunity to show that I’m ready to contribute. 

This follow up is a lot stronger than the first. Immediately, you can see that it is personalized to the reader, and recalls portions of the conversation to jog the reader’s mind about who the writer is. It provides context and personality to continue building a personal connection to help the reader remember you among the pool of other qualified candidates.

It also conveys the value that would be added to the reader. The writer recaps why they would be an asset: personal qualities about striving to be the one who solves problems and being a fixer; areas in the firm where the writer would be a great fit; values shared with the reader and the firm, etc.

The follow up should be genuine and authentic.

This means it should reflect the best of your personality that was presented at the interview. If you established a great rapport and were humorous, feel free to let that tone be conveyed in your follow up. If you were more studious and stern, don’t suddenly be a different person. Just as you stand out more in an interview when you are your authentic self, you stand out more on paper when the tone reflects your authentic self.

Another quick practical tip: after your interview, refresh your own memory and jot down highlights. What genuinely stood out to you? What did you connect with? What are you truly excited about?

The task to write a brief, helpful follow-up should not pressure you to treat your interview as a fishing expedition for nuggets to pepper a note—but it should certainly serve as an opportunity to remind the reader of the value you can contribute and why you’re the best fit for the job.

Photo Credit: https://www.maxpixel.net/Paper-Leave-Hand-Thank-You-Pen-Letters-226358

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