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Everything You Need to Know About Following Up for a Job

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Everyone has a different strategy when it comes to following up with employers during the job-application process. Some prefer to follow up quickly and repeatedly at every stage of the application process, while others may feel uncomfortable following up at all.

Part of the confusion is that there really are no standard guidelines for this part of the process. Employers rarely include details about when and how to follow up in the original job posting, which forces the candidate to do a certain amount of guesswork about what is and isn't appropriate. But according to one career expert we spoke with, it's rarely ever a bad idea to follow up as long as you do so in a professional manner.

There are no standard guidelines for following up after applying for a job, but there are best practices.

"You are probably better off risking following up than not following up," says Miriam Salpeter, founder of Keppie Careers , a career coaching firm. "As long as you are approaching things professionally and not being rude, usually you can't make too many mistakes with the follow-up."

We asked Salpeter for her advice on when and how often to follow up in every job application scenario, as well as what you should say in each case.

Job postings with a deadline
For any job posting that specifically mentions a deadline for when to apply, Salpeter recommends waiting until a day or two after the deadline.

"If they put a deadline, it probably means they are planning to review the application after that time. Following up before that could be seen as aggravating," Salpeter says.

In your follow-up note, Salpeter suggests starting out by saying, "I assume you are beginning to review the application now that the deadline has passed." From there, you should restate your interest in the position and highlight one or two key details from your cover letter explaining why you are a particularly good candidate.

Job postings without a deadline
If the posting does not include a deadline, the follow-up time is a little less clear cut. As a general rule, Salpeter says applicants should plan to follow up within a week after sending in the application.

During that time, though, you should do a little legwork of your own. If you haven't already, try following and retweeting the hiring manager on Twitter or joining one of their LinkedIn(LNKD) groups and posting something intelligent there. This way, when you do follow up, your name may be a little more familiar to that person. At the same time, you should do additional research into the company culture and see if you can find any additional details about the kind of candidates the hiring manager or the company in general likes to hire so you can work this into your follow-up note.