Getting around "No Phone Calls Please" for employment.
July 23, 2006 4:45 AM   Subscribe

Prospective employer: "No Phone Calls Please." So, how to follow up on a resume submission?

Every job book and Web site in the universe says it: sending your resume without any follow-up is akin to not sending it at all. A short and simple phone call, they say, is a great way to establish that personal contact and (hopefully) make your name stand out. However, 99.9% of employers - presumably tired of fielding desperate phone calls all day and night - have now incorporated the "No Phone Calls Please" policy into their job postings.

So, what's the alternative?

Sending more random follow-up e-mails - no matter how polite - seems like a clueless solution, especially when done through a Web form, anonymous Craigslist address, or some other automated submission process. (I tend to think that if they noticed you from an e-mail correspondence, you'd hear back.)

Actually ignoring the request and calling them anyway sounds like demonstrating some real initiative, but you also run the risk of seeming like a haranguing dick who can't or won't follow simple directions. And this doesn't seem like one of those "rules meant to be broken" by people who are allegedly courageous and ambitious enough to do it, and I can't imagine an HR person who's idle enough to accept (or even want to accept) these sorts of calls all day long.

Which leaves... what? Carrier pigeon? Box of chocolates? Serenade by accordion? Sending an old-fashioned USPS letter of inquiry? Thoughts, please. I'm sick of seeing ridiculously well-suited jobs float away on a cloud of helplessness, but I also don't want to be an aggressive meathead who fast-forwards his resume to the circular file with a well-meaning phone call.
posted by mykescipark to Work & Money (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine, who's one of those dynamo killer-salesman types (and extremely successful) suggests putting on your best outfit and actually stopping by the business in person. I've never taken his advice on that front when job hunting, but he insists that it can be very effective. Though, like everything else, there's the risk that it'll backfire (like you said, "Pushy, can't follow directions"). I guess it's a judgment call you make from one prospect to the next, depending on what kind of business/job it is, what vibes you get from the ad, etc.
posted by Gator at 5:07 AM on July 23, 2006

You may have some success calling or stopping by the workplace, if you're polite and willing to accept the strong possibility that you'll be blocked.

I believe that many employers cannot keep up with the number of resumes that they receive, given that they post openings at a variety of locations in a number of different communication channels. I think they also use gatekeepers (voice mail, secretaries, etc.) to avoid incoming calls.

Your first goal, as you are probably all too aware, is to have your c.v. stand out from its competition. If something in it interests the reader, he or she will contact you.

I recommend that you try to identify the hiring manager, rather than the HR representative, and somehow contact them through a referral. You might find Linked In to be a useful tool for expanding your network and uncovering opportunities.

Good luck!
posted by NYCinephile at 5:47 AM on July 23, 2006

You're asking the wrong question.

The real question is "How do I get my resume noticed so that after a prospective employer reads my resume he already puts me at the top of the list and WANTS TO CALL ME?" Check out this metafilter link "All posts tagged with resume"

Seriously, what's so hard to understand about NO PHONE CALLS? Because if you're trying to game the system from the beginning, how are you going to behave if I hire you? There's nothing worse than a cowboy who won't listen you at all.

The whole point of a resume is that you have your chance to step into the the spotlight and present your best self. Either you nail it there or you don't. If you do, we'll call. If not, we won't call you. That's just the way it goes.

Why no phone calls? Because I have to you know, WORK, and if 50 people a day are calling, most of them coming off as selfish jerks, with a few drooling retards and a psycho or two, all of them wanting an extended conversation, how can the work get done?

Learn how to write a killer resume, realizing that the resume is ALL ABOUT HOW YOU WILL BE USEFUL TO ME (the propsective employer). I don't care about your hobbies, dreams goals or objectives, I just want to know that you will help me get the work done while building revenue without throwing the office into a tizzy with your personal drama, mind games or office backstabbing.

Yes, of course, your career will be enhanced and you'll learn a lot working here, but you're sole purpose from working here is to do the work without creating problems and I want to see that you realize that on your cover letter/resume. Give me hard, cold numbers that show how you helped the bottom line in previous jobs so that I know exactly where you mind will be when you walk in the door every morning.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 AM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

You'll get mixed answers on this. When I was looking for a publishing job, I frequented the boards at mediabistro often. At any given time, there was usually at least one big argument between the "ignore it! call anyway! it shows initiative! I'd throw out your resume if you don't call!" people and the "no calls means no calls! if you ignored the guidelines I'd throw your resume out on the spot!" people.

Since it seems to basically be a crapshoot, I like to err on the side of following directions. Simplifies things.

My caveat, of course, is that it took me nearly a year to find a permanent job.

Also, to add on to what NYCinephile said, you should try to submit via the hiring manager in the first place whenever possible (without going to stalking lengths to find out who it is). You can then follow up with them...usually the no phone calls thing refers to HR. At my workplace and many others like it, thousands of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed recent grads apply to each advertised entry level job through HR. It simply would not be possible to take a call from even a reasonable percentage of them.
posted by lampoil at 6:35 AM on July 23, 2006

HR may be getting overrun with calls - but the hiring manager likely has not received a single one. Search your network for somebody that knows somebody that can get you in contact with somebody on the inside, then ask if they know who the hiring manager is.

If you don't know anybody, use your Google-fu to find somebody in sales within the company, and call then. I have been on the receiving end of several calls like that, and have always gone out of my way to figure out who the person should contact (or in one case, to warn them off that they really did not want to work there!) If there is anybody that will appreciate the extra effort of a cold call when trying to get the job, it'll be a salesperson at the company!
posted by COD at 6:50 AM on July 23, 2006

Don't use your initiative to ignore the request - use your initiative to find a less-guarded way to get access to the resume pile. See if you can find a source to have found out about the job that doesn't have the "do not call" request -- find a small, out of the way posting site without this request, an internal source, friend of a friend -- then use that to sidestep the mob scene. The original post is your opportunity to dig further. Of course, this has other benefits besides giving you implicit permission to follow-up your resume. If you can't find un-guarded access then the best thing to do is the join the mob and hope your resume stands out. You wouldn't want to be hired at a company that caves to rule-ignoring pushy people anyway.
posted by dness2 at 7:00 AM on July 23, 2006

Instructions like that are crap;

"Don't call. If we don't contact you you didn't get the job"
"We couldn't get hold of you, you should have called."

Do whatever you would most *like* to do. Then, if it works you've got more chance of enjoying the place. And if it doesn't, then you'd probably have hated the job anyway.
posted by krisjohn at 7:09 AM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think that Gator is right. Stop by in person and hand deliver the resume & application. Then you can go ahead and call, because you never saw a Craigslist posting that said "no phone calls!" :-D

A lot of this probably depends on what industry you're working in. For example, an old job I had put up a post for a sysadmin. The first line was "Please read the entire posting." The last line was something like "To follow up, do not call us. Please email us at... (whatever.)"
Anyone that started cold calling got their resume tossed into the bitbucket.
posted by drstein at 7:58 AM on July 23, 2006

I toss anyone who calls me. If you can't communicate what you are all about through a cover letter and resume, I don't really have time for you.

I need people who can follow basic instructions.

Now occasionaly, I have had people come by in person and that can actually work well depending on how you handle it. "I was in the neighborhood and wanted to see if Ms. StormyGrey is available for a moment" , works nicely. "I am here to see Ms. Stormygrey" does not work, don't presume I have time for you, but stopping in is a nice touch, be charming.
posted by stormygrey at 8:19 AM on July 23, 2006

I am with Brandon Blatcher. I have been the person responsible for hiring 25 entry level positions a year. I got literally thousands of resumes. I would throw out your resume no matter how good it was (there are always other really good ones) if you called when it said "do not call". The only exception would be if you called and said, "Joe Smith who works for you in the parts department suggested I call" or if you could get Joe Smith himself to call me and say, "Hey, take a look at this resume you received for the job in shipping. I know this kid and he is a hard worker."

Seems to me the first test of your abilities is to demonstrate that you can write a resume that properly highlights your value to me and stands out. I would disagree with Blatcher about the hobbies part though. I want to see what your hobbies or outside activities are. I was hiring for postions that were very competative positions once you were in them. I looked for the successful athlete, the person who played competative bridge and that sort of thing. It demonstrates a focus, a willingness to learn and someone who can handle short term defeats to reach a long term goal.

If I were you, and I'm not, I would write a killer resume, send it and a week later send it again with a different cover saying something along the lines that, I know you are swamped with great candidates and may have missed my resume, but I am still the best candidate no matter how many resumes you get so please look at it again and call me to follow up."

Calling when it says "do not call" simply implies you cannot follow directions and are a cowboy.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:30 AM on July 23, 2006 [2 favorites]

Calling when it says "do not call" simply implies you cannot follow directions and are a cowboy.

Good point and I should clarify: Don't make them a center focus of your cover letter if it's not meaty info to the prospective employer. Mentioning that "you play in the local rugby league" doesn't say much, but mentioning "that you love to compete and excel and you constantly work at it, even to the point of joining the local rugby league" says lot more for potential hiree.

and please, for the love of god, proof read and spell check your resume and then have at least have two of you english major friends proof read and spell check it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:53 AM on July 23, 2006

Oops, responded to the wrong point. Was responding to this: I would disagree with Blatcher about the hobbies part though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 AM on July 23, 2006

My department put up a notice for hiring an associate editor several months ago, and we received several hundred resumes. The co-directors of my department, who were in charge of going through them in order to select candidates (no one from HR had anything to do with it other than to log in the resumes and forward them to us), are also both full-time editors. If they had had to field even an extra few dozen phone calls from prospective candidates, it would have severely hindered their abilities to, as others have said, WORK. I can't say for sure that they would have tossed the resume of anyone who called, but I can say it would have been highly disruptive (and -- more to the point here -- would not have made a good impression) if even 10% of the people who submitted resumes had called.
posted by scody at 9:29 AM on July 23, 2006

And I have to say -- what's wrong with a plain old letter that you list it with other ridiculous things like carrier pigeons and aural assaults? A letter is a good way to follow up; you're not breaking the rules, it opens another line of communication, it doesn't interrupt other work going on.

Of course, I'm a fountain pen nut, so I'd even recommend a handwritten letter, but I know not everyone has the penmanship for that.
posted by atholbrose at 2:05 PM on July 23, 2006

The more I think about it, the more a letter might be the best option.

The problem you're contending with is that they either don't want phone calls and will automatically file your resume circularly if you do, or they're testing your initiative and they'll can it if you don't call. Sending a letter, while not the 100% solution to either person splits the difference pretty well.

In the first example, the people can easily ignore the letter if they want, and won't be as bothered as if by a phone call. The second will possible see it as initiative.
posted by drezdn at 3:38 PM on July 23, 2006

I'm not an HR expert, just a successful job applicant. I'm thirding written correspondance, or even just a short note on some nice stationary you picked up from Hallmark or something. Call it a charm offensive.

Send it on distinctive stationary, maybe something like this or this (I am personally in love with the whole idea of "correspondance cards"), and hand write it if you can. It needn't be long, just a reminder of who you are, why you are perfect for the job, a "thank you" for being considered, and how to get in touch. I forget phone calls all the time, but personal notes on nice stationary? That's memorable, and that's what you want: be "the note person" HR talks about over and over again and perhaps you'll still be considered.
posted by mdonley at 10:03 PM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

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