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September 14, 2010 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Is it still important to make a follow-up call on a job application these days?

I've been job hunting for six months. When I apply for a job, and have a contact or other information—and the job description does not specifically state "no calls"—I try to follow up in two weeks by phone. Every time I do this, I end up being brushed off, as "Oh, we're still going through our applications; we'll call you" or the like.

I have to wonder if the two-week follow-up call is still good practice, or with the massive influx of applicants people get these days, if I'm not actually hurting my chances of getting a job by making follow-up calls. Help?
posted by SansPoint to Work & Money (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Still good practice.
posted by griphus at 7:12 AM on September 14, 2010

My advice is to refrain from making follow-up calls. If the business to which you have applied wants to hire you, then they will get in touch with you. They went to the trouble of advertising the position and then of interviewing you, and they are not going to just forget what they were doing and fail to inform you that they have decided to hire you. Or even if they are just considering hiring you but they are not sure yet, you can't really influence their decision by nagging them. People don't like to be nagged. And if they do discover that they have more quesitons to ask you, they will ask them of their own accord. If a business is hiring, that is important to them, it's something they have to do. It's not like you are inviting someone over for dinner but maybe they forgot what day it is, so you remind them. These people are professionals, they are not going to forget.
posted by grizzled at 7:17 AM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

It depends who you call. If you submit your resume in response to a job posting, the only thing a phone call does is let you make sure HR received it. A phone call in this case won't help you get the job.

If you were able to talk to an actual hiring manager before submitting your application, a follow-up phone call makes more sense.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:20 AM on September 14, 2010

One followup call is not nagging. Go ahead and call, and if they say they're still going through applications, ask them what their timeline is for interviews and when they hope to have someone on board.
posted by headnsouth at 7:21 AM on September 14, 2010

Anecdata: While it sounds nice in theory (the applicant shows interest in the job, is persistent, etc), I was always completely annoyed when applicants followed up after interviews. Mostly for the reasons Grizzled mentions.
posted by citywolf at 7:21 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: citywolf: This is following up to hopefully schedule an interview. In six months of searching, I've had one interview from an application...
posted by SansPoint at 7:22 AM on September 14, 2010

Whether before or after an interview, I think Grizzled's point still stands. If they're interested, they'll get in touch. If they got your resume, were interested in you and were ready to schedule interviews, likely you'd have heard from them already. I don't see what you'd achieve by calling them.
posted by missmagenta at 7:29 AM on September 14, 2010

The few times my boss has gotten a phone call/voicemail from a candidate inquiring about their application, I've responded to her with the application, and the reasons why I didn't show it to her. She's always agreed. So my pessimistic response is: your application has been reviewed. They wouldn't have gone through the trouble of posting a job if they didn't want applicants. If they haven't called you, your qualifications didn't line up with what they were looking for, or there was a red flag in your resume, etc. Move on to the next one. Calling only wastes your time and theirs.
posted by litnerd at 7:32 AM on September 14, 2010

Make the call. In my experience, many companies have stopped extending the courtesy of telling applicants that the position they applied for has been filled by another candidate.
posted by Jugwine at 7:33 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it was an unsolicited application, absolutely make the call. I've seen that the folks in my office do appreciate being reminded that hey! someone is very interested in working with us! And they'll go take a look at the application again, in case they just put it aside and got sidetracked.

If it's a huge company who just put out job postings though, they're getting flooded with phone calls and no one receiving your call will have time for you. So if they say no calls, I'd not call.
posted by lizbunny at 7:43 AM on September 14, 2010

If you formed some kind of a connection with someone at the business, it's a good idea. For instance, if you had multiple calls / interviews with the same person, or if you met them at a conference and then interviewed with them. Calling to follow up on that really great idea you two shared, or calling to ask questions that demonstrate that you really get the company's strategy and how you fit in will help you.

If you went through an interview mill where they were talking to 5 candidates that day, it can't hurt to call, but it probably won't do anything. If you made a good impression but didn't totally connect with the interviewer(s), they're not going to care that they received your call /email which will obviously be the same message you make to everyone - "I'm very interested, I'm such a good fit, etc." It can't hurt, but don't overemphasize it.

When I was conducting interviews for a large company in an interview-mill situation, I stopped providing my email address to candidates. By the time they emailed me, I had already sent my recommendation to HR. But if I were interviewing with a 10 person firm (or anything below 500 employees, really) I would follow up, because the decision is probably more based on gut feeling than a formula.

It's also not a big-company, small-company thing, it's a unique interaction vs. interview mill thing. If you're interviewing to be a division director, or the only marketing team lead at the company, follow up. Those decisions will be cased on less of a formula and more a sense of how you fit in, and they'll have a better impression of you if they know you're pursuing them.
posted by Tehhund at 7:52 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I got a job a few years ago because I made a call I thought would just be a nuisance--turned out, my contact at the company had simply forgotten about me. Granted, I was asking for an introduction and didn't expect to get a job out of it right away, but still: I was thinking some of the things that have been said above, that if the guy had wanted to pass my information along he would have, that my calling would just be annoying.

This sort of thing--The few times my boss has gotten a phone call/voicemail from a candidate inquiring about their application, I've responded to her with the application, and the reasons why I didn't show it to her--is all the more reason to make a call. The worst possible thing is that they blow you off (which they were already doing), but the best possible thing is that your resume gets a second look. Not every resume screener is going to be as good as litnerd, and if you can get an organization to take another look at you, you'll have a better shot at an interview.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:55 AM on September 14, 2010

I'd say that generally it depends on the size of the business and other considerations. But most companies, even small ones, are getting way more applicants than they can handle these days so I'd be inclined to agree with those who've said that a follow-up call is an annoyance that won't merit your application any further consideration than if you let matters lie. In the case of a follow-up call that lands in an HR department, what you call a brushoff is just the way HR handles things.

In normal times it would have been okay to say to yourself, "A follow-up call won't hurt." In these times, it might.
posted by blucevalo at 8:03 AM on September 14, 2010

How about a followup letter instead of a phone call? I'm interviewing for a position now, and I just received a nice followup from a candidate; it was appreciated. In contrast, followup calls are a little annoying to me.
posted by seventyfour at 8:09 AM on September 14, 2010

Personally, I find follow-up phone calls intrusive and annoying. I would only receive them after an interview, but I guess it is still a valid observation. My recruiter will sometimes describe someone to me as "high maintenance" which I take to mean "calls me too much." I think the best current practice would be to email or letter, which is far less intrusive (at least in my mind).
posted by Lame_username at 8:21 AM on September 14, 2010

I also think that a polite and well-written follow-up letter could go a long way, although fewer and fewer companies are giving out postal mailing information or even direct email contact information these days in application notices. Digging for that mailing information if you have a contact but no address might be a good indirect way to show that you have strong interest.
posted by blucevalo at 8:22 AM on September 14, 2010

During my last interview they pointedly told me that previous applicants had been disqualified because they had made follow-up calls.
posted by pullayup at 8:47 AM on September 14, 2010

If I were you I would just send an e-mail, calls could be too intrusive and not appreciated by everyone.
posted by The1andonly at 8:58 AM on September 14, 2010

As someone working in HR, who has done extensive recruiting in the past-do not call. The recruiter will contact you if your qualifications are a match with their needs. If the recruiter receives a call on even half of the applications submitted, it will take a huge chunk of time out of her day.

If you cannot rest your mind without some sort of follow up, I suggest tracking down the recruiters email address and send a very brief email saying something along the lines of: "I submitted a resume/application on X date and wish to express my continued interest in the position and employment with your company.

If you do end up calling to follow up and get the recruiter's voice mail, please leave a brief message such as the above statement. Do not call repeatedly without leaving a message. The recruiter may be sitting there working on some other task and seeing your name/number pop up on caller ID 15 times in one morning is not going to do you any favors(from personal experience).
posted by JennyJupiter at 9:59 AM on September 14, 2010

I've called to follow up after applying to every job I've ever had....apparently I'm lucky?

Sometimes though I do puss out and call after 5 and leave a voicemail instead of calling in person during the day. I guess that's on par with a letter or email.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:01 PM on September 14, 2010

Back when I hired people, I really held follow up calls against people. For the most part, they were from people who I wasn't going to interview anyway, so it didn't do them any harm, but I was still annoyed. But when scheduling interviews, if I emailed someone a basic question like "Can you come in at 2 on Thursday?" and they responded by calling me, I held that against them too. I was busy!

So I think the phone should be all but banished from workplaces. That's not to say other companies don't sit around ruling out everyone who "doesn't have the common sense to make a follow up call." Because in their world, that's how the world works. My advice is that if you want to work in a world where follow up calls are rewarded, make them. If you want to live in a world where the phone is banished, don't make them. You have no way of knowing what the other person thinks, but you at least don't find yourself in the wrong world.
posted by oreofuchi at 4:11 PM on September 14, 2010

Of course, every situation is different, but when I had an opening recently, we were swamped with hundreds of applicants for a job that normally we would have received a few dozen for.

We asked for no calls. When we got calls, it was extremely annoying because we were already swamped. But on the bright side it showed us who was able to follow instructions correctly, which was a key requirement for the position.
posted by quarterframer at 7:21 AM on September 15, 2010

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