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How should I follow up on an introduction to a potential employer?

first-impression2Jerry from Grand Valley State University asked:

How can I most effectively follow up on an introduction to a potential employer? 

I briefly met a man who owns a small holding company in my home town. We exchanged cards, and he asked me to send him my resume.

What is the best way to follow up?

Hi Jerry

Timing is everything!  The longer you wait, the greater the possibility the potential employer will forget he met you.  So, here is my advice:

Follow up within 24 hours

Strike while the iron on hot!  That is, follow up while this potential employer still remembers meeting you.  If you wait too long, he will forget his offer to review your resume, and you will develop a reputation as someone who doesn’t follow through in a timely manner.

Remind him who you are

In the email or letter that accompanies your resume, remind him who you are and why you are contacting him. Very likely, he is a busy guy who doesn’t remember the details of every meeting or introduction. Bring him back into the moment.  Remind him it was his idea that you follow up with your resume.

Be brief and to the point

Don’t go into a lot of detail.  He already wants to see your resume.  Don’t feel the need to include the details in the body of your email.

Follow instructions

If he told you to send your resume, do so!  If he asked for a resume and references, provide that.  If you follow the instructions he gave you – no matter how informal those instructions may have been – you will show that you know how to follow instructions.  You will show you are dependable.

Market yourself

Toot your horn a little bit.  Give him reasons to review your resume immediately.  Don’t go overboard here, but take the opportunity to market yourself a little.

Ask for the next meeting

Conclude your email with a request for a next meeting.  Regardless of whether this potential employer has current openings, he can be a valuable professional contact for you immediately or down the road.  Ask for a meeting.  The better he knows you, the more willing he will be to consider you for a job now or in the future (provided, of course, that you make a good impression in the meeting!).

Following is an examples of how you might craft your email follow up:

Dear Mr. Smith,

It was a pleasure meeting you last night at the Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting reception for ABC Corporation.  I enjoyed learning about how you started your holding company and grew it into the successful enterprise it is today.

Thank you for taking interest in me and my career. As I am sure you will recall, I will be completing a bachelor’s degree in business and finance in May and am eager to begin my professional career in business with a local company such as yours.

Per your request, I have attached my resume to this email for your review.  I am eager to visit with you again and learn more about possible opportunities with your company.  

All of my classes this semester meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I am most available to meet on Tuesdays and Thursday.  I will call your assistant next week to inquire about scheduling time on your calendar.  In the meantime, please feel free to call or email me.

I look forward to continuing our conversation!

Best Regards,

Jerry Candidate

Good luck!



How can I learn more about careers in grant writing?

grant writingMichelle at the University of Alabama – Birmingham asked:

I am interested in working as a grant writing consultant while pursuing a Masters in Public Administration. I have some previous work experience in this area and have successfully completed a course in order to become a grant-writing consultant. Although it was very insightful, I feel that it would be beneficial if I could speak with someone who has chosen this career path in order to learn about additional training necessary to start the process. Can you offer any suggestions?

Hi Michele –

Your instincts are spot on!  The best way to get the inside story on any career is to speak directly with people working in that field.

There are a few ways you can go about finding people with whom you can do these informational interviews:

Talk to grant writers at your university

Every university seeks grant funding, so every university has people (on staff or on contract) that write grants.  Check with the staff in your Development Office (the fundraising folks!).  There probably are a few folks who do grant writing and would be willing to share their advice with you.

Find grant writers on LinkedIn

Grant Writer SearchIf you’re not on LinkedIn, you should be!  It is a great resources for connecting (and remaining connected) with like minded professionals.

I did a quick search of my personal network on LinkedIn for the title “Grant Writer” – current or past – and it returned 602 names!

Now, my network is quite large, so your search many not net as many results, but it will net some, and you only need a few.

Be prepared for the informational interviews

Not sure what an informational interview is?

Read my Guide to Informational Interviewing.

When you schedule an informational interview you are asking the interviewee for their most valuable commodity – their time!  Don’t waste it by being unprepared.  Be ready to ask good, inquisitive questions.  Seek their advice and insight. Don’t ask questions you can answer yourself by doing a Google search.

Do your homework

I always recommend that job seekers and career explorers connect with the professional associations in the fields they are pursuing.

In the case of grant writing, you should target the American Grant Writers Association (AGWA).  It lists  Job Opportunities and Training resources, including the Grant Writer Certification courses. Perhaps the course you took was an AGWA course.

Also, look into the Grant Professionals Association and its Job Center.

I also recommend reading this very good download from on Choosing Grant Writing for a Career Path. It provides a nice overview of the career path.

And lastly, here is a rather old (but still valuable) article from the Chronicle of Higher Education: Debunking Some Myths About Grant Writing. The article might be a bit dated but the advice is still sound.

Hope this information and these resources help!

Good luck


What is the best approach for a career switch from IT to HR-Recruiting?

Kevin at Southern Methodist University asked: 

I graduated in 1999 with dual degrees in Management Information Systems and Organizational Behavior.  I went the IT route and have been working in various Software and Technology positions for most of my career.  I am interested in using my Organizational Behavior degree now.  What is the best way to make the switch?  Based on my strengths and interests in careers, I would like to explore work in HR Recruiting.  How can I use my background in IT to become a technology corporate recruiter? 

Hi Kevin –

Changing careers can be scary, so I commend you for being proactive about this.

The worlds of IT and recruiting are very different, so as you consider this move, please be aware that the employment dynamics of these two professions are quite different:

IT professionals are typically in much greater demand than are HR professionals (companies usually need a lot more IT folks than they need HR folks), and recruiting is a relatively small part of the HR function.  In fact, recruiting is often done by contract recruiters or outsourced to recruiting firms.

In short, when you compare a career in IT to a career in recruiting, you are not making an apples to apples comparison – you are comparing apples to oranges.

Now – with that little warning out of the way . . . .

Your background in IT make you uniquely qualified (in some ways) to be an IT recruiter:

  • You understand the IT function and the needs of IT departments better than someone who has not worked in that environment.
  • You understand IT professionals better than someone who isn’t (or hasn’t been) one.

There are some big differences, though.  IT recruiters are compensated differently than IT professionals.  IT recruiters are, essentially, sales representatives,  so their compensation is based on sales performance (base + commission or commission only) and not on level of technical skill or certification.

A sales career can be personally, professionally and financially very rewarding, but working in sales is VERY DIFFERENT from working in IT support or development.

Will you be comfortable working on commission, making sales calls (some of them cold calls!), negotiating deals and dealing with contracts, schmoozing customers, interviewing and assessing candidates, fielding and responding to their calls, requests and concerns? If you work in IT recruiting (any kind of recruiting, for that matter), you will spend a lot of time in the “grey areas” of business where there is not always a clear right or wrong answer but many options to consider.  Making your customers happy is a top priority in sales, and making and keeping your customers happy can be challenging.

It can also be very rewarding!  I share all of this not to dissuade you from making the switch, but rather to encourage you to do so with your eyes open.

The very best think you can do to find out whether or not IT recruiting (or any field) might be a good fit for you is to talk to people actually doing  that work and find out first-hand what it is like.  This is called going on an informational interview.

I’ve written a brief guide to Informational Interviewing that you can download from the Job Search Guides section of this website. I suggest you review it.

You should also talk to the career advisers at your university and seek their advice.  Tell them you would like to do some informational interviews with recruiters, particularly IT recruiters, because you are considering going into the field.

Also, look on LinkedIn and see if you are connected to anyone (fellow alumni, for example) who work in IT recruiting. Ask for their advice.  As a byproduct, you will make some valuable contacts.

Finally, here are links to a few sites you might find helpful:

The Texas Recruiters Association

ere,net’s List of Recruiter Associations

Hope this helps!

Four Easy Ways to Maintain and Grow Your Professional Network

Networking and professional relationship building can be fun, easy and rewarding, both personally and professionally. Here are four relatively easy ways to bring meaning, value and productivity to your professional network.  But watch out!  If your not careful, you might actually start to enjoy yourself!

Become active in professional associations and/or civic organizations

In order to maintain your network of contacts, you must stay in touch with them. One easy way to stay in touch with your existing contacts and make new contacts is by being active in your professional association and/or in civic groups in your community.  Being active in your professional community keeps you in regular contact with your professional peers and gives you an opportunity outside of your job to develop these relationships and your reputation with these contacts and make new contacts in your field.  Being active in a civic organization, non-profit association, church or other group provides you the opportunity to connect with others who share your personal interests and values apart from your job.  These types of contacts can also be extremely valuable to you as you manage your career over time, consider changing careers, or are seeking an alternative opinion or point of view on a challenge you are facing.  Just because someone is not in your field doesn’t mean they are not a valuable professional contact.

Not sure where to start?  Check out our list of Professional Associations.  Also, check out the student organizations registered on your college campus, as many professional associations have student chapters.

Maintain a professional presence online (not just a social one!)

Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are growing at a very fast rate. Unlike Facebook and Google+, these sites are intended specifically for professional/business networking – they offer professionals with similar interests, backgrounds and skills the opportunity to connect online and exchange information, recommend peers, make referrals, discuss topics of professional interest, share job leads and offer/seek advice.  Professional networking sites are a great complement to the personal networking necessary for a successful job search.

Help others when they ask for your assistance or advice

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Remember – genuine networking is about reciprocity.  As business author and networking expert Bob Burg put it: “The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own.”  When someone genuinely asks for your assistance and you believe you can help, offer your assistance.  When you don’t believe you can help, let them know.  Don’t leave them hanging.  You wouldn’t want them to do that to you. Remember, “the currency of real networking is not greed but generosity” (Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight and professional networking consultant).

Make a difference

How are you making a difference in the world; in your workplace, in your home, in your community; in the lives of your friends and colleagues?  Are you making a difference? We all search for meaning, and each person has a different definition of what holds meaning (what is important) to them.  Why do you do what you do?  What advice do you have to share with others facing decisions you have had to make in the past? What might you do next? How are you going to get there?  You have just as many answers as you have questions.  Your answers and advice could really make a difference in someone’s career, just as the answers and advice you get will make a difference in yours.


Welcome to – a service of CSO Research Inc. 

This blog provides career advising and coaching resources and information to benefit the students of CSO’s 600+ client colleges and universities across the US and around the world.

Content is provided primarily by me –  Matt Berndt, CSO’s Director of Communication & Career Services with additional content provided by  Mason Gates, CSO’s Director of Employer Engagement,  and other of our colleagues at CSO and friends in career services and recruiting. 

I have been described as a “career evangelist because of my passion for helping college students proactively explore their career options and pursue careers paths that match their skills, interests, goals and aspirations.

My philosophy of career planning and management is simple:

Life is short. Work somewhere awesome! 

Yes, I know that “working somewhere awesome” is not easy to achieve.    Why is that?   Well . . . 

Consider this:

According the the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,  most of us will have more than 10 jobs over the course of our careers

And this:

Many of the jobs and careers  that will drive economic development in the future don’t even exist yet.  Remember, social media didn’t exist ten years ago!

Kind of makes the whole “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” question college students ask sound a little bit silly, don’t you think.

See, it’s not about about knowing what you are going to do with the rest of your life RIGHT NOW.

It’s about learning how to navigate your career journey through its unavoidable changes, peaks, and valleys in a way that will allow you to live the life you want to live, meet your obligations, and make decisions according to your personal and professional priorities.

The content of this blog – and my philosophy in general – is centered on helping college students  explore their options and navigate their career paths from the minute the step on campus for the first time to long after they graduate and progress through their careers, because no one else will do this for them.

You may not always agree with the advice and commentary I offer.

That’s okay! There is not one specific career planning and management “recipe” that will work for everyone.  

My goal with this blog to to get students thinking about how they can best use their skills, gifts, talents, education, resources and relationships to forge a work life that suits them well and meets their wants and needs.

Welcome aboard – put on your seat belt – enjoy the ride!