How to Follow Up on your Student Affairs Job Application
How to Follow Up on your Student Affairs Job Application
Shotgun Theory: It’s the theory that I’ve relied on to get as many student affairs interview opportunities as I can. Shotgun Theory is: the more shots you take, the more likely you are to hit.
But this isn’t the best, or only way, to approach the student affairs job search. Sometimes just making a meaningful follow up with the hiring manager or search committee chair is enough to get your candidacy re-started.
There are many things that set candidates apart from the rest of the pack during the job search. Education and experience are two of them. But communication and presentation also play a major part.
Written communication is one of the most important steps. That’s because written communication doesn’t often leave a lot of room for nuance. You must be clear and concise when communicating with a potential new employer.
This is all the more important when following up with your job application.
How to follow up on your student affairs application
Sending a courteous follow up during your recruitment process can help re-start your candidacy. Communicating via email can be tricky. But common courtesy, professionalism, and diligence will help set you apart from the rest of the pack.
Here are some steps that have helped me successfully re-start my candidacy for an application:
Step #1 Where are you in the process?
Did you just apply to the job via the HR website? Did you email it to the search committee chair? Did you send it to an administrative assistant or the hiring manager themselves? Did you interview over the phone or web conference? Did you already meet with the hiring committee? Were you already invited to campus as a finalist?
Knowing where you are in the process is critical to knowing who you should reach out to first.
If you just applied for the position: Check for the application’s close date. Sometimes job postings are put up par in advance and are allowed to exist online for quite some time. It could be months before they close the application process and begin reviewing resumes. At this point you should follow up AFTER the posting’s close date.
If you completed a 1st round phone / interview: Follow up at the end of their timeline (i.e. they said “We’re completing interviews this week and will follow up with all applicants by Friday”). If they didn’t indicate a timeline (or if you didn’t ask for one), then follow up at least one week after your interview.
If you completed an on-campus interview: Same thing with a 1st round phone / web interview: Follow up at the end of their timeline (i.e. they said “You’re the last on-campus interview we’re hosting. Then the committee is going to deliberate for a week and make a decision. We will reach out to you again within two weeks.) If they didn’t indicate a timeline (or if you didn’t ask for one), then follow up at least one week after your interview.
Step #2 Determine your last point of contact
Who was the last person you contacted during this application? Was it someone from HR? The search committee chair? Maybe even an administrative assistant? Make sure that you have that person’s full name, title, and email address.
Step #3 Don’t have a last point of contact? Then it’s research time…
Alright so, you don’t have a last point of contact. In fact you probably submitted your application materials into the human resources black hole. No sweat. In a few simple steps, we’ll be able to find out who you should follow up with next.
It’s time to search the institutional website and look for some contact names that are related to the specific office you applied for. Did you apply for the coordinator of student activities position? Better look up the director of that office. Did you submit an application to the director of career development? Be on the lookout for the assistant dean or dean of student affairs.
Have you found a name, but haven’t been able to get any contact info? No worries. Write down their full name.
Next search for “directory” and the institution’s name. Most college and universities make contact information public online – especially as it relates to their faculty and professional staff.
Try searching for that person’s name here. No results? Try searching for their title or pieces of their title (i.e. student activities, student engagement, career development, athletics).
Step #5 Reach out to them
Once you have this person’s contact information, it’s time to reach out to them with a brief inquiry on the status of the search. Remember to keep this professional and maintain your interest and enthusiasm for the role.
Re-emphasize how enthusiastic you are to take on the role. Reiterate all of the experience that you have to bring to the position.
Keep this follow up short. Writing less than 50 words is key.
If another week passes and you haven’t heard back then it’s time to bring up another follow up email. In this email you can re-indicate your enthusiasm for the role along with how you believe your skills would help with an on-going challenge or new project that the institution might be facing.
This is a great time to check the institution’s news page for their latest developments. I did this once to learn that the college was finishing a new programming space in their student union. So, I wrote a follow up email indicating my background and talent for creating innovative and student-driven programming in multiple spaces on campus. That definitely served as a critical talking point for me.
When following up with your student affairs job application, know that size does matter in these situations. If you’ve applied to a large land grant school, then finding the person who has your application materials is going to be tricky. You may have to spend a while conducting your own research to find the appropriate person if you didn’t already contact them directly.
The opposite is also true when applying to small liberal arts colleges. In these positions you may not even apply with human resources directly. You might just send your application materials directly to the hiring manger who will be conducting the search on their own. In that case, you can definitely personalize your follow up.
Remember to keep your communication professional, upbeat, and passionate no matter what. Student affairs is a field about developing your connections, representing yourself well, and espousing professional dedication. All of that should come through in your communication.
Some closing thoughts
Regardless of the outcome for your application, always be prepared to walk away if there is no further movement on their part. That is the direction that most of your applications will go. Just remember to stay positive and keep up your momentum.
Barrett-Poindexter, J. (2019, April 08). How to Follow Up on Your Job Application. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/follow-job-application/