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December 6, 2011 5:16 AM   Subscribe

Is it okay to call ahead to get details about a job posting before I submit a resume?

(some relevant-but-not-necessary background in my last question)

I currently have a good job that I'm happy with, but for personal reasons I'm looking at a job in a new city. The job description sounds like something I am interested in and can do (it would be a step up, but a seemingly achievable one), but as I write my cover letter I find that I really want more details about the job. Is it ever a good idea to call an HR department and ask for details, or ask to speak to the manager who will manage my position? It's a large hospital, so I don't know how to track down the person who would be my boss other than to call HR and ask questions about the job. But do HR departments ever help candidates understand a job posting before the candidate has submitted a resume and cover letter? Or will I mark myself as "that weird guy who called ahead" and get my resume thrown out of the pool of applicants?
posted by Tehhund to Work & Money (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
It's absolutely alright to do that. I take those calls from time to time. You would not be considered weird in my workplace, just genuinely interested in making an informed decision.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:25 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Having been in a hiring position, if it's a mid-career move then I think this would be OK and may even set you above the pack. For entry level positions, this may mark you as high maintenance and cost you points.
Perhaps try and find a contact in the organization through your existing network?
posted by arcticseal at 5:26 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

As someone who weeds through hundreds of resumes and poorly-suited-to-the position cover letters: No problem. Thank you.
posted by heyheylanagirl at 5:27 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Keep it brief. Plus, no reason to give them your name, really, unless they ask, so they may not even match you to the phone call.
posted by empath at 5:29 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I usually set up a quick 10 minute call via email in advance... that way, you're totally not inconveniencing anyone and you talk to the right person.
posted by ph00dz at 5:43 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I love it when people call me for more information regarding a posting. It demonstrates their interest or helps them rule out a position if it turns out to be something that isn't quite right for them. I am also happy to speak with people more about the position and what to expect. There is nothing worse than going through the whole process of weeding out applications and going through interviews to find that you have someone who isn't interested or isn't right for a position. Also I find that when people take an interest in learning about the position that they do much better at the interview. Typically interviews are based on the position description. With the job market being challenging in most places at the moment an applicant needs to do as much research as possible. If you make an impression on the phone then you will be remembered at the interview. It won't put you ahead necessarily but it will make you more memorable so if you end up scoring the same as someone else you may find your personal suitability is determined to be better - or it may go the other way if you come across as a pratt on the phone. So be polite and perhaps learn a bit about the organization before making your first call.
posted by YukonQuirm at 5:46 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

If the employer did not specify "no phone calls" in the ad, you have nothing to worry about - and, if you ask the right questions, much to gain.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:16 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used to be a part-time HR-Hiring Consultant type.

It is not only "all right", it is absolutely the right thing to do, and if everyone did it, employers would have a much easier time than they do now, wading through thousands of resumes from people who don't qualify and wouldn't want the job anyway. Too many people plaster resumes all over, then evaluate later. Rude.

"Hi, I'm considering applying for the toothpaste technician job, and I'm wondering what the position involves? Does someone have a minute to explain for me?"
posted by rokusan at 7:25 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

On the other hand, I was recently hiring for a position that had a very complete job description available on our company's website. I got a ridiculous number of calls asking questions that could have been answered by spending a few minutes reading the job description and a few other pages on our website. These calls basically left me with a negative impression of those candidates who called. I would strongly suggest making sure that calling and asking is the only way to get the information you are seeking.
posted by hworth at 7:58 AM on December 6, 2011 [6 favorites]

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