The follow-up call

To call or not to call?

No, this isn’t going to be a discussion on post-first date protocol or is it more meaningful if you call from home vs. cell vs.1 prison call (subtle Seinfeld reference there.) It is about the appropriateness  of calling a company to follow up after you have submitted your resume directly to a position or via a job board.

I had 2 people ask me about this and observed a thread of conversations on a recruiters group message board about the very same subject which is great because it gave me a well-rounded perspective.

My answer has always been that it is OK to call ONCE. Whether you speak directly to the person managing the hiring process or just leave a voice mail, it is completely appropriate to call once. You must create a comfortable atmosphere in your message or conversation stating that you were really interested in the role when you saw it, and a.) just wanted to see if it is still open and b.) to confirm receipt of your resume because “you know how sometimes the internets are”. Then shut up. Don’t push for any further action or try to “sell yourself”.  Let them take the ball and tell you what is happening. More often than not they will look up in their ATS (recruiter speak for resume database), or at least bang on some keys to pretend they are checking.  They will probably tell you that it is in process and being reviewed by the hiring manager (point of definition here: usually HR or recruiting manage the hiring process, the hiring manager is the person deciding who to interview and making the decision to hire or not) as to who will be called for phone screens, interviews, next steps etc.

Once and a while, they will be honest and let you know that your fry-o-lator skills don’t qualify you for the Chief of Neurosurgery position they posted.

Point is: don’t be too pushy, stalker-like or generally creepy if they can’t tell you anything more than it is in process and you’ll be notified if they are moving forward. And never ever just “drop in” on them to talk about it, unless the company traditionally gets its employees from walk-in traffic (retail, food service,  etc.) I had that experience once with a candidate who kept on dropping by unannounced, I wanted to take out a restraining order. And it was my mother, so it made it even more awkward. Click this and then the big red button to complete my joke (have sound on)

Listen, every HR person knows how tough it is to get a job these days and they won’t look unkindly on someone calling to check their status as long as the person seems normal. I validate this statement by the aforementioned recruiter message board discussion. The poster was someone I had met personally and interviewed for a position. She is a consummate professional and a well respected HR Manager in this area. It was Friday afternoon after what must have been a tough week and she wanted to vent to the recruiter community and sort of complained about someone calling about their status. She was professional and told them in a nice way about the process and that they would contact them if they were going to move forward. Well, the responses to her posting were brutal. She was lambasted every which way about insensitivity and how the job market is so bad and people can’t pay their bills, etc. that they just want to do whatever they can to get a job. Although I thought the message board community was little tough on her for venting, since she didn’t respond unprofessionally to the candidate (that’s what we are here for support, right?) I was heartened by their sensitivity toward the candidate. It means that although there are lots of applicants for very few jobs these days, they should all be treated with respect.

So yes, call and follow up. Once. And yes, contrary to popular belief we recruiters do have a heart!

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