The Follow-Up Phone Call is Dead – But Your Initiative Isn’t

Posted September 11, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

If you wander through a used bookstore, pick up a job search book from anytime before 2005, and you’ll likely find advice telling you that whenever you send a resume, you should wait 2-3 days, and the call to follow up. This has long been a practice for strong candidates, some books even telling you to call the hiring manager early in the morning to be more likely to get them on the phone, and giving you language to directly and forcefully ask for an interview. But, alas, the world is a changing. Most of us just aren’t “phone people” anymore. And the truth of the matter is, for most people at work, their phone ringing is a distraction and annoyance rather than a welcome break.

Over on iMediaConnection, a reader recently asked HR expert Jane Turkewitz how she felt about follow-up phone calls when it comes to sending in your resume. And we think her advice is exactly what the new era of job seekers needs to hear:

Here’s the reality.  If the ad basically says, “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” then, my feeling is you don’t call. Chances are, it’s a Human Resources department running the ad and the recruiters in that department are digging thru tons of resumes to find ones that fit the job description.  If you call them, you’re probably not going to get anywhere because they’ll get pissed off that you didn’t follow directions and are resenting the fact that they have to field your call, vs. get thru their work piles.  Then the call will turn awkward and you won’t get anywhere anyhow.

The purpose of the old “follow-up call” advice wasn’t to annoy or confuse you or your potential employer. The purpose was single fold – to show initiative. In today’s media driven society, a phone call might not be the best way to show initiative. On the contrary, it could show that you don’t have the right kind of tact or innovative ideas to get the job. How, then, can you show your initiative without picking up the phone?

  • Go direct to the hiring manager. Jane Turkewitz recommends and we agree that you should do everything you can to “find out who the hiring manager is and sending your resume directly to him or her and seeing where that gets you.” Finding the hiring manager’s email address and writing a thoughtful communication could get you to the top of his or her resume pile.
  • If you can’t get in directly, get in sideways. Perhaps you have a friend who knows someone who works for the company. Ask that friend to send your resume direct. I once applied for a job where an acquaintance’s son worked. He wasn’t close to the hiring manager, he didn’t work in the department. But he took the time to print my cover letter and resume, walk it down the hallway, and give it directly to the hiring manager. She called that afternoon. Get anyone you can to help get you in front of the right people.
  • Connect on LinkedIn. Especially in large corporations or businesses where most of the hiring process is handled through HR, LinkedIn is a powerful tool. HR professionals are often willing to connect or even accept resumes via LinkedIn and may even communicate directly about a job posting through a message they wouldn’t normally convey via email. Go ahead, network away.
  • Get to know the company online. Now, this might not get you an interview, but it will show your interest and initiative once you’re in the door. Follow the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and any other online or social media channels they have. Set a Google Alert for the company name or department you’re in. Show them, once you’re there, that you’ve done your research and have been following their progress.

Even though the verdict on the follow-up phone call is negative, you can still show your stuff after you’ve submitted your resume.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."