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Follow Up With a Dead Mouse
August 2010

Yes, you read the title of this month's Career Zone column correctly. A dead mouse. During the last month I have been working on a consulting assignment for a large media company. Since I am working full time, the hours spent dedicated to job search have decreased, but the importance of following up with those in my network increased significantly.

I have to be more strategic in who I contact, how often I contact them and how meaningful the follow up is. My time is very limited so my follow up needs to be memorable. That is where the dead mouse comes into the picture.

Using a dead mouse is one of the most critical follow up techniques you have at your disposal. So, you are wondering what a dead mouse is? I am a dog person, but I have heard from lots of friends who own cats, that on occasion their cat will drop a dead mouse at their feet. While getting a dead mouse from a cat might seem a little gross, the cat is presenting the dead mouse as a way to get attention and as a sign of affection for their owner. If the cat could talk, it would say proudly, "Look at the great gift I just gave you."

How does a dead mouse apply to your job search?
A dead mouse can be many things when it comes to your job search. It's your "gift" to whomever you are trying to connect with. It gives you a reason to be thoughtful and to follow up via phone, e-mail or snail mail. You should be reaching out to people in your network at least 7 different ways. While everyone worries about being annoying by following up too much, most people out there do not follow up enough. Dead mice help you accomplish that.

Some examples of dead mice include:

  • If you are at a networking event and meet an executive at one of your target companies, and you learn in conversation that they went to XYZ University. Find an interesting article online about the university or prominent alumni and e-mail a link with the article to them with a short note.
  • After an interview, you e-mail a thank you note to the hiring manager. A few days later you see an interesting article about one of their organizations senior executives in the newspaper or about a big piece of business they just won. Clip the article and send a hand written note with the article to the hiring manager and mention again what you can bring to their organization.
  • You hear about an interesting industry event going on in your area. Call or e-mail your contact and tell them about it.
  • You recently completed additional training and got an award or other recognition that would make you an even better fit for the position, follow up with an e-mail letting them know about how your additional training could be beneficial for their organization.

Focus your dead mouse to fit with the position, organization and what you have learned about your contact. You don't need a dead mouse for every follow up, but if you integrate a dead mouse into your follow up on a regular basis, the people in your network will be purring at your feet in no time.