To call or not to call, that is the question. To write or not to write, that is the question. When is enough, enough? (Or perhaps you should just show up in person and demand to see someone?) At what point do you move from showing your persistence and tenacity to just being a pest?
Well, the truth is, I don’t know.
I do operate on the principle that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It comes from my many years as Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency trying to collect bills from our clients. How often I heard the story: “I was just about to put your check in the mail.” Oh sure, now that I called.
At the beginning of the job application process, you need to follow the rules to get the best results.
If the ad says to write to “HR Department,” address your note to the HR Department, even if you know or can find out the name of the person who heads up HR. There is nothing to be gained by being a wise guy at this juncture. If they wanted it addressed to a specific name at the company, they would have had you do that. This includes not sending a note to the president of the company letting him/her know you applied, even if you can figure out who that is. All he/she will do is forward this on to the Human Resource department where you will be identified as a troublemaker. (It is better to wait until you start for them to find that out.)
However, following the rules doesn’t mean being meek and mild. Should you follow up on your application? Well, I would suggest that this depends on how many applications you think they have received. If it is a posting from a job board, chances are they have been buried. Think of it from their end. Would you want every applicant calling?
If you have figured out the name of the company, see if you can make a networking connection.
A long time ago, one of our members answered an ad on the Monster Board, checked our membership directory and found a member at the company. Upon calling him for help as a fellow member of The FENG was surprised to learn that the job in question reported to him. The short story is that he started at this firm two weeks later. He followed the rules, but then applied a very smart follow up program that didn’t get anyone’s nose out of joint. (I hate when that happens, don’t you?)
Once you are into the process, the follow up rules change. If you have had an interview at the company, I think you are entitled to call until you get a status update. Their inviting you in to speak with them has given you the right to know what is going on. I used to recommend hanging up if the phone wasn’t answered so they didn’t know you called 15 times, but with caller ID these days, that is a risky approach. Missed calls are often recorded.
One tip is to always be polite and measured. There is a natural human tendency to get more and more strident when leaving message after message that has gone unanswered. Don’t fall into that trap. I had occasion not to be called back several years ago and was getting more and more angry that the individual who I was trying to help hadn’t had the common decency to call me back. Turns out, his son was in the hospital the entire week.
You see, you never know.