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After sending out an application, I have received an email stating

Thank you for your application. We will be in touch within the next X days if we have any positions that suit you.

Now I have reason the believe that this mail was handwritten and not automated, partly due to the fact that it is a small company I have applied to and that the mail is signed by a specific person and has been sent hours after I sent out my application.

Should I respond to an email like this? If yes, what would I say?

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I would take the email to mean what it says. They will be in touch if they're interested.

Given someone took the time to write this personally, I would assume that your application will indeed be considered. So I cannot see what good would come of answering - this is the best outcome you could have hoped for at this stage of the process.

If they do not write you back within a week or so, I would think asking them politely what happened would be ok. Personally, I would not: If you were considered, they should have contacted you already. Most likely, it simply hasn't worked out then, and you should look for another opportunity.

  • I don't agree with this one, BP. You should give a quick reply - an acknowledgement that you understood and agree to / are excited about that course of action. (You're of course correct that one shouldn't "reply" with a long message or any message, but one should "hit reply" and in a few words say thanks and show your ongoing positive-ness to the next step.") – Fattie Jan 5 at 21:18
  • That's a fair point. I guess I was interpreting too much into the question. A short message is probably the way to go. That said, my lack of enthusiasm in prior, similar scenarios hasn't hurt me - but yes, I concede your point :) – bytepusher Jan 6 at 15:15
  • There is no doubt at all that too much enthusiasm can sink your boat, in many situations. It is certainly a delicate issue. Come to think .. my little company once got a huge job, from a "personality" type entrepreneur, and the bloke said subsequently that he chose me for no other reason than i was the only genuinely enthusiastic, full-on yelling and screaming competitor. Conversely on other projects, plain "talking too much" is the kiss of death on a team, nobody wants to hear what you just had for lunch etc. So, "enthusiasm" is a touch issue. :/ – Fattie Jan 6 at 15:55
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The correct action is:

  • Do hit reply straight away upon receiving it,

You want to (a) maintain top of mind and (b) positively identify that you are on top of things and a fast actor

  • Simply type "Fantastic, hear from you then. Cheers, John"

Nothing else. Hit send.

  • Of course, vary the formality per your situation and personality. So maybe "Fantastic, that would be great, John" or "Thank you, looking forward to it, John Smith" or whatever the case may be.

I use it as a chance to push my phone number

  • "Thanks, I'm here any time - Johnnie 255-1236969"

I always recommend, a little enthusiasm never hurt anyone. Within your personality style, it's ok to show a few words of enthusiasm. For contracting and specific projects it's great to mention the project and show you're all over it, in one or two words.

Your next question may well be, if you don't hear back quickly, what to do next?

Yes, after "some days" it's cool to again just reply to the email in the shortest manner; basically the identical email again: "Thanks again, here any time, John 255-1236969".

You are in the most delicate and decisive part of the negotiations now!

You have to

  • maintain top of mind

but of course

  • not be pushy

Enjoy!

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Thank you for your application. We will be in touch within the next X days if we have any positions that suit you.

Did you apply for a specific position?

The phrasing "if we have any positions that suit you" tells me that you didn't.

Without that text, I would recommend (as @Fattie does) that you thank them for considering you.
But it sounds like this small company has just one person to receive all resumes and you shouldn't bother them with a thanks. Just because they are efficient and polite doesn't mean that they have a spot for you.

Send out more resumes (to other companies)

If you need to respond, I advise you follow up after X days if you can say something like, "I haven't heard from you. I'd like to work for you in [position Y] and hope you are considering me for it."

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