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Are You a 'Persistent' Job Hunter or Just a 'Pest'?

"JT & Dale Talk Jobs" is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com. Dear J.T. & Dale: I applied for a job via a company website, and the day after, rang the company to check that they'd received my application. They told me the HR lady was busy and would call me back. The next day, after not receiving any contact, I phoned again. The receptionist told me the HR lady was busy and that the job was "on hold." A few days later, the same job showed up on a recruitment agency's website. Would it be annoying if I phoned the company again? — Adam J.T.: In HR circles, this is actually a touchy subject. There's a rule of thumb that goes like this: Multiply a candidate's actions during the application process by 10, and that's what he or she will be like on the job. Your choice to call so frequently tells them you could be high-maintenance as an employee. Dale: What a lousy rule of thumb. Hiring managers — and I don't mean recruiters or HR screeners, but the people you'd actually report to if you got hired — want someone who is enthused and persistent; the problem is that the people screening you are not the ones hiring you. Naturally, the screeners grow weary of applicant inquiries, and they say things like "on hold" to get you to stop calling. If you want to test this theory, call again and employ a version of "permission selling": Tell the receptionist "I don't want to be a pest, so could you tell me whether the HR people are willing to take calls from applicants?" J.T.: Better still — and I just can't stress it enough — in this economy, people are getting hired via referral. If you don't know anyone at the company, then you need to hope that the recruiting company will screen you for the job and present you as a candidate. Dale: Or, try to find another way into the company. Call your contacts and ask if they know anyone there. It'll give you a good reason to call those in your network, and you just might get an intro that will help you leap over the screeners and get your resume to the hiring manager. That's a much better use of your time and your persistence. JTandDale.com LogoJeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the job search blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. Plastic fly swatter image from Shutterstock