Follow-Up Frustration

Job seekers can find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to follow-up with potential employers. By not keeping in touch enough, one risks appearing unmotivated,  yet calling too much takes on a stalker feel. Where is the balance? What’s the right answer?

The simple truth is no “expert” can give you the real answer. The only person who can tell you the best way to follow-up with a potential employer, and how often, is the employer himself. So many fail to ask hiring managers when they have their attention what their preferences and expectations are. Job seekers should make a point to raise the question of ideal ways to keep in touch before hanging up from a phone call or stepping out of an interview room. Trying to get the information through voice mail and email pleas after the fact is rarely effective.

On the other side of the coin, there are those who do ask for input, but fail to honor the established plan once they find the employer unresponsive. The employer said in the interview connecting every other week was reasonable, the candidate left a voice mail on time, the employer didn’t reply, so the candidate starts pummeling the hiring manager with frequent calls asking for follow-up and pointing out that person is dropping the ball. Not the best way to win brownie points.

As with other posts on the topic, I’m going to take a moment to be blunt. In my mind I can hear job seekers grumbling about how companies bring this on themselves by not offering good follow-up or not living up to predetermined plans. I get that, but they are no different than the rest of us. It’s tough to hear, but if follow-up with you is poor you probably aren’t a priority for that person at the moment. Either you aren’t the top contender or the actual position ranks below other demanding issues requiring that person’s attention. That’s not a dig on employers or on job seekers, that’s just reality. So the decision needs to be made, do you hound employers to the point you eventually get the rejection you’ve essentially forced them to deliver, or do you roll with it, consider why you aren’t their priority and who else might have a more urgent need or greater interest in what you do?

I vote for the latter. Hands down. Becoming obsessed with wringing follow-up out of decision makers serves no purpose. Determine the expectations up front. Honor those expectations by your actions. Accept the fact if you made a stellar impression and are a top contender you’ll be remembered for however long it takes companies to sort things out on their end. Realize if you didn’t make a stellar impression a voice mail inbox full of “you haven’t returned my call yet” isn’t going to inspire a change of opinion.

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