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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

calling to follow up after applying for a job

A reader writes:

Thanks in advance for your help. I have been applying online for jobs with no success. I never hear back although I am sure to be qualified for the positions I am applying for.

My question is: Is it poor etiquette to call the local company and speak to a manager regarding the position or should I wait for a recruiter to call me? I don't want to jeopardize my chances of an interview by being presumptuous.

It's fine to call -- once. What you don't want to do is harass them, but one phone call a few days or a week after you submit your application is fine. It might sound something like this: "I submitted my application for your __ position last week, and I just wanted to make sure my materials were received. I also want to reiterate my interest in the position; I think it might be a great match, and I'd love to talk with you about it when you're ready to begin scheduling interviews."

Something like that -- short and sweet -- is fine. What's not fine is something that some job-hunting guides advise: saying that you're calling "to schedule an interview." You don't get to decide to schedule the interview; they do, and it's presumptuous, not "good salesmanship" or whatever those books claim, to pretend otherwise. Someone out there is also advising people to say things like that in their cover letter, which is leading to lots of closing lines like, "I will call you in a week to schedule a time to talk." Ick.

15 comments:

TheLabRat said...

Thanks AAM. I now have to reconsider every cover letter I've ever written ever. That is just hilariously depressing.

Ask a Manager said...

Oh no! This is no way for me to spread holiday cheer. It's probably worth remembering that I analyze this stuff neurotically and form opinions on every little aspect of it, whereas most people reviewing resumes probably have something better to do with their time than parse every last word like that.

TheLabRat said...

Oh don't trip on it. No worries. =)

I just continue to find it amusing that your wonderful, amazing blog continues to tell me about how a lot of the folks giving advice out there are giving not so great advice, at best.

In all honesty, I'm not surprised. ANd I'm just procrastinating on winter break homework so take anything I say with a grain of panic and barrel of salt.

Sweet said...

So many students with whom I work are hesitant about following up because they don't want to sound pushy, but I like your suggestion for how to follow up appropriately.
I would also suggest that if you say you're going to follow up in your cover letter, do what you said you would do. I've heard a few complaints from our recruiters that applicants say they will call within a week, and only about 2% actually do.
Happy holidays!!

Rachel - I Hate HR said...

I HATE when they say they're calling to schedule an interview. Then sometimes they follow it up with "I'm available to come in today if you want." Nope, no thanks.

Just another HR lady... said...

I can honestly say that I have never interviewed a candidate simply because they called to "follow up". I interview those candidates who get screened into our recruitment process because their application/resume meets the qualifications posted.

And from the perspective of an extremely busy HR lady...we receive at least 50-100 resumes per day. I would say that at least 10% or more of these people call to "follow up". Add that up and that makes a minimum of 25-35 calls per week taking anywhere from 5-30 minutes each, that's a lot of time for a 1-person HR dept.

We have an automatic response set up in our system so candidates know that we have received their resume, and the automatic response "nicely says" that we don't respond to general calls.

TheLabRat said...

Wouldn't that be a different situation though? I mean your office politely informs job seekers that they do not to to call to follow up and that you have received there materials. In that instance, doesn't calling basically violate the instructions they have been given by the prospective employer?

Anonymous said...

I must agree with another HR lady. I have never interviewed someone who called to "follow up." Not because they called to follow up, but because they were screened out for some reason - hence why they never heard back regarding an interview. Let me reiterate what I tell my friends who become frustrated with job searches - my job is to fill a position with the best candidate. Why wouldn't I want to succeed? If you're not hearing back, perhaps there's a reason...a typo in your cover letter? A plagurized cover letter? No cover letter at all? These are the top three mistakes I see job seekers make. If you must insist on calling to follow up, you should call the person you submitted the resume to - HR, and not the hiring manager.

Just another HR lady... said...

Hi LabRat...our automatic response set-up was our solution to try and cut down on the general calls. But yes, those who call now after hearing/seeing that message are pushing their luck. I also quite enjoy the people who ask if I received their resume when they already received a message that we got their resume. And bonus points to the people that leave a message asking what jobs are available when they have already been directed to check our website for available jobs. Fun! :-)

Anonymous said...

I was actually told that the reason I got my last interview (and current job) was because I had called them. They were hiring for several openings, and when the HR woman went to call for interviews, she had my name written on a piece of paper from a message I had left. Boom... I went to the top of the stack.

Jack said...

My advice is to skip HR altogether and get in touch with a hiring manager. Use LinkedIn or a Company Directory or a contact inside to get the name of the person to talk to.

HR will NOT help you. Go over their heads.

Sam of Sydney said...

Thanks for all the comments above, it has helped me in spades.

Kim said...

Thank you for the advice on the simple followup. I tried it this morning, and the agency was really impressed that I had called to see if they had received my application and resume and whether or not they would be scheduling interviews soon. We'll see what happens, but so far so good!

Anonymous said...

We're trying to fill a sales position, and have received a lot of resumes. Only 10% were worth even calling for an interview. We've seen a lot of spelling errors, grammar mistakes, cut-and-paste, etc. The worst is those that are overly wordy for no reason, with lots of catch phrases.

We're a small company, with no HR department, so we are dealing with the process ourselves. Generally it's going very well, but we have one person who has called 5 times trying to get in for an interview, even telling me on one call that I'd be stupid to not interview him. We had no plans to call him for an interview, and DEFINITELY won't now! How on earth do we handle this guy?!?!

Ask a Manager said...

Anonymous, have you explicitly rejected him yet? If not, you need to do that.