Hi, it's me the pest

Published on Apr 07, 2021 by Matthew Bud, The FENG

Probably one of the most difficult issues to resolve when competing for an appropriate job opportunity is how much follow up to do.

It is a fine line indeed between ensuring that those making the decision know you have real interest and making a real pest of yourself and changing their decision from yes to no.

Decisions seem to take longer and longer today. Add to this the natural reluctance of folks to deliver bad news, and you have the “horns of the dilemma” that we all face.

One of the little recognized dangers in doing too much follow up is when you think the interview went well and they don’t seem to be getting back to you. The short story may be that you are number two and they have made an offer to number one and are waiting to hear back. If they call you on a timely basis to deliver this news, you might disappear on them. So, trying to consider THEIR best interests, they sort of string you along.

In this case, more than any other, you can do yourself real damage by being too aggressive in your follow-up.

Asking permission to follow-up at the end of the interview is the best thing you can do. Ask for a sense of their timing and with whom and when to follow-up. Hey, they said it was okay.

Typically the reason no one gets back to you is that the answer is no. In this case, all you are doing is satisfying your own curiosity as to the status of particular items on your pending list.

There are many valid reasons why they don’t want to talk to you. For one, us financial types look for detailed answers to why we weren’t selected. That can get into a lengthy discussion with the party on the other end of the phone needing to dance around obvious issues that could lead to lawsuits. Often times there really isn’t a valid reason other than there were better people who applied.

Asking for a side-by-side comparison won’t help you or them. In fact, when the answer is no, there usually isn’t much useful information that changes hands. But, by being polite if you do reach them, you stay on their list and folks have been known not to show up for that first day of work. (I have also known folks who quit on their first day.)

If you do choose to leave many phone messages, be sure not to make them increasing strident. The simple facts of “name, rank and serial number” are usually sufficient. If you do more, you run the risk of relieving their guilt at not having returned your calls.

Keep them guilty. When they do return your call, they will usually begin with an apology that will go a long way toward them trying to be helpful in some way, perhaps by even providing another networking contact for you if the answer is no.

Hopefully this will help you in rethinking your follow up efforts. Having been a master of credit and collection work, I can tell you that being a pest pays.

Regards, Matt