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Meredith Haberfeld Main Street

Pester or Not? How to Follow Up Your Job Application

By Eleni Himaras

June 15, 2009

When it comes to follow-up phone calls after submitting a job application, tread carefully. You don’t want to cross the line between showing your enthusiasm and being a pain in the rear.

The Basics
The absolute minimum number of times you should call a company is three, says Robyn Feldberg, career coach and president of the National Resume Writers Association.

And always keep it friendly and brief, says Meredith Haberfeld, the New York-based co-founder of Institute for Coaching.

Leave the person enjoying speaking with you. While you want to be attuned to not taking up too much of their time,” she says, “create a nice, authentic connection.

Know Your Audience
The rules of pestering are far more lax for those applying for a job in sales, marketing or any other field where blatant persistence is a job requirement.

I’ve actually heard of people who are hiring a sales person intentionally not returning people’s calls or blowing them off because they only want the sales people who have the persistence to keep calling, Feldberg says.

Feldberg says the best way to get a sense of how dogged to be is by getting an inside contact. Regardless of department, try to make a contact inside the company and find out what their application process was like.

LinkedIn can be a great source for doing that but sometimes it just means calling up somebody in customer service, finding a vendor for the company, or a former employee, she says.

Be Sneaky About It
When sending a follow-up phone call or e-mail, come up with a legit sounding reason.

Sometimes if you could bring them some helpful information something that their competitor is doing, forward them an article maybe that you’ve read online, she says.

This can also be done through the bevy of social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook. Friend either the hiring manager or a company employee, then post articles they might be interested in or comment on things they’ve posted.

You can find companies and start following them, and the person who Twitters for the company can be a source for that, Feldberg says. When it comes to making those phone calls, however, the receptionist might block candidates from actually speaking to the hiring manager and refer them through the standard application process. This can often be avoided by calling early in the morning or after closing hours in hopes of connecting to a dial-by-name directory.

If the telephone and computer techniques have been unsuccessful, Feldberg says there is a low-tech solution that has a proven success rate.

Send a resume and cover letter in the mail with a little sticky note that says, Second submission. I’m really interested in this position.’ It’s doubled the interview rate and it’s not invasive. Nobody will be offended if you do that, she says.