To Follow Up or Not to Follow Up – Part 2

Last time we looked at why people who follow up conclude it’s pointless.  I provided an alternative method that shows it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.  But there’s another reason people don’t want to follow up: fear.

Follow up calls put your ego on the line.  If you catch someone at the wrong time or they never call you back, it’s easy to take it personally.  Easier still to believe if the company wants you, they’ll come after you.   Passiveness can be a beautiful thing.  It can also be an illusion.

Picking up the phone to sell something – in this case yourself – isn’t something with which most people are comfortable.  It’s a form of cold calling, and even many sales people, who do that for a living, don’t like making cold calls.  But people, in this case hiring authorities, generally take the path of least resistance unless they have a reason to act right now.

While you’re thinking the company isn’t interested, your resume could be sitting on the hiring authority’s desk waiting until he finishes his current project and then disappears on a business trip, because right now, those two items are more pressing.  Paperwork gets lost, and people are forgotten.  While you think you’ve been rejected, in reality, you simply haven’t been noticed.

Combine that with catching people at a bad time, and it’s easy to take things personally.  Don’t.  The odds aren’t in your favor.  A perfect track record of interest isn’t achievable.  But if you keep plugging, you’ll also make some excellent connections, be given referrals, and find that you turn over a few stones with your name on them.  Take the results objectively instead of tying them to who you are, and stay steady no matter what happens.

Additionally, look at it from a company’s point of view.  Employers who value initiative and the ability to be pro-active will appreciate your call, because that’s exactly what your calls are demonstrating, even if they have no interest or need.  View that as a positive call, because now you can cross them off your list and focus on the others.

And when there is an interest there, you may discover that your call made the difference.  Thirty five percent of my retained clients, (and me too) have found jobs this way, and in each case, the position was created because of the follow up phone call.

Let’s also consider the Enthusiasm Effect.  From the hiring authority’s viewpoint, enthusiasm is always preferable to the individual who blandly intones “Thank you very much for your time.”  The company knows their odds are better with the enthusiastic person, because that person demonstrates they want the job, and more likely demonstrated an active knowledge of the company.  Companies want to be specifically chosen for who they are and what they offer, just like you do.

Since following up isn’t something most people are likely to do anyway, it’s difficult to overdo it.  So don’t worry about stalking or being annoying.  Just pick up the phone, be pleasant and enthusiastic, and you’ll be fine. Phone every three to four days, for about as many calls.  And better a phone call than email, because email is creative avoidance.  You need to convey, and get a sense of, each other’s personality in real time.

Finding a new job is more than meeting requirements, and it’s more than showing how you can do that.  It’s also about standing out from the pack by conveying interest and enthusiasm.  It’s also about utilizing that opportunity to ask open ended questions about their process, where they are in it, and what you can expect.  But most importantly, it’s about getting in the door so you can find out if it’s your perfect job.  And disappearing into the crowd – or risking that possibility – doesn’t help to make that happen.

Judi Perkins, the How-To Career Coach, was a recruiter for 22 years and worked with hundreds of hiring authorities on entry level through CEO. She set up over 15,000 interviews, and has seen over half a million resumes. Her clients often find jobs 8 – 12 weeks because she brings them sequence, structure and focus, and shows why typical strategies often fail. She’s been on PBS’s Frontline, Good Morning Connecticut, in Smart Money magazine, CareerBuilder, MSN Careers, Yahoo Hot Jobs, New York Times, New York Daily News, multiple radio shows including a regular Thursday morning gig, and quoted in numerous career books. Sign up for her free newsletter at www.FindthePerfectJob.com.

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Comments

  1. Mike Danubio says:

    As a career recruiter I would agree with the need to follow up. I disagree, however, with the advice to “Phone every three to four days, for about as many calls”. Once per week would be sufficient – more than that evokes a sense of desperation and annoyance. The recruiter/hiring manager begins to wonder what it will be like to manage you as an employee. Otherwise, good article!

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