Failing to follow up after submitting a resume is a very common mistake. It's not surprising, given that so many job ads say "No Phone Calls, Please."
But I've spoken to a lot of hiring authorities in recent years, and they all agree that it's not only OK to follow up after you send your resume, it's critical. Why, then, do employers continue to put "No Phone Calls, Please" in their job ads? Because it's a lot shorter than saying, "No Phone Calls From the Tire-Kickers and Arrogant Jerks Who Call and Ask Stupid Questions, Please." But you? You should call.
But, But, But
On the surface, it may seem pushy, impolite, and risky to deliberately disobey your desired future employer's instructions. Do it anyway, because you need to get your name floating around that workplace. (And don't chicken out and use email. It's not the same.)
But … what if they throw away my resume because I ignored their wishes? Very unlikely. And if they're that anal, good riddance.
But … what if I can't get through to the hiring manager? Doesn't matter. Leave a message with someone in the department and politely ask them to pass it to the right person. (And if they seem friendly, keep chatting. See if you can get any helpful tips about the job, the culture, or the boss.)
But … I'm too scared to call. Call when the workplace is closed and leave a voicemail message. (Curiosity will probably make them look for your resume after they hear the message.)
A True Story
I once tried to use the call-and-leave-a-message-after-hours method. I was poised to leave a brilliant message, but instead, the hiring manager happened to be working late and … he answered the phone. After a bit of sputtering on my part, we started to chat and he pulled my resume out of the pile, and we wound up having an impromptu phone interview.
Long story short, he invited me for a "real" interview, I got the job, and stayed with the company for eight years! (Moral of the story: Be prepared.)
What to Say When You Call
Be polite, respectful, upbeat, and to-the-point. This is not the time to ramble on with a lengthy personal sales pitch. You just want to put your name out there and let them know you're not just another anonymous resume in the queue; you're a living, breathing candidate who really wants the job.
Use these tips to help you formulate a statement that feels comfortable, then practice, practice, practice.
START with a basic message like this:
"My name is ____, and I submitted my resume for the ____ position on ____. This is an opportunity I'm especially interested in, and my background seems to be a great match. Would it be possible to find out your timeframe for scheduling interviews?"
THEN, if they give you a timeframe (e.g., "We expect to start interviewing next week"), say something like:
"That sounds great. I definitely hope to hear from you around that time. Meanwhile, would it be helpful if I emailed you another copy of my resume and cover letter?"
OR, if they don't give you a timeframe (e.g., "It's hard to say right now"), it probably means: a) their hiring process is poorly organized, or b) you didn't make the cut. To get a better idea which it is, say:
"That's understandable. When would be a good time to follow up again?"
If they tell you to try again in a week or two, you're most likely still in the running. If they give you the "don't call us, we'll call you" routine, you're probably out. Sorry.
OR, if you reach voice mail, leave a message, using the same principles as above:
"My name is Jane Doe, 555-987-6543, and I submitted my resume on ____ for the ____ position … blah, blah, blah…. Again, this is Jane Doe, 555-987-6543."
Be sure to leave your name and number slowly and clearly at both the beginning AND end of your message. Why both? Have you ever had to replay an entire message, just to catch the caller's number at the very end? That's why!
Whatever the circumstances of your phone call, whether you reach your future boss, someone else in the department, or a voice mailbox, just be sure you communicate all five of these critical facts:
- Your full name and phone number (twice if you're leaving a message);
- The job title you applied for;
- The date you applied;
- The fact that you’re very interested in and well-suited for the job; and
- That you'd like to know their interview timeframe.
Please share your thoughts. Have you ever had a bad experience when you called to follow up with an employer? Have you been hired as a direct result of a follow-up call, as I was? Recruiters and hiring managers, how do YOU feel about this topic?
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