Persistent | Annoying
- September 27 – 10 AM – [Ring! Ring!] “No answer. I will leave a message.”
- September 28 – 3 PM – [Ring! Ring!] “No answer. I will leave another message because I’m sure s/he didn’t pick up the first message.”
- Okay, it’s September 29 and still no answer. [Ring! Ring! Ring!] “Leaving another message but this time I will follow up with a short e-mail explaining how perfect I am for the position in more detail.”
- “Okay, now I’m frustrated, it’s now Friday and there is still no answer.”
Have you read the Forbes article from September 28? It goes something like this…
“With all of the news today people never use the phone anymore, one woman apparently didn’t get the memo. A 42-year-old woman from The Hague is being prosecuted for stalking her ex-boyfriend after he filed a complaint that she called him 65,000 times in one year.
That’s right, 65,000 times. That is 200 calls a day, and assuming she is awake for 16-hour days, 11 calls an hour or roughly one every five minutes.”
In the article, the writer discusses a ten-step program to help stop women from obsessively calling a guy. (I would like to take a moment here to say this phenomenon isn’t gender specific. Yes, I have known men to actually dial women – or the same sex for that matter – the same amount of times in a week. OK, I really don’t know anyone that unbalanced but let’s for the sake of this article assume I do because I think it is important to be inclusive).
So why are we talking about this stalker in a career blog?
If you see the guy in this story as THE RECRUITER and the stalker as YOU then I’m here to tell you, you’re in need of a ten-step program.
Yes, we know all too well waiting for a call back from anyone is hard enough without the added pressures of managing a career. But in today’s job market, every interaction you have with a company representative should be seen as a delicate courtship – think of the entire situation as DATING.
Recruiters are by far the most visible group in a company – receiving many first-time calls from candidates, thank you e-mails and daily offers just to connect in-person for 15 minutes. The average Recruiter today is managing a list of 50+ job openings with different hiring managers, different skill-sets being sought after and different slates to create in order to position some 500+ candidates to meet with hiring managers. Now take those 500+ candidates, multiply them by the number of calls just to “check-in on my candidacy” or the “did you get my last e-mail” message and you begin to see how to even the greatest recruiter, it can be a little overwhelming.
There’s a FINE LINE Between Being Persistent and Annoying
Now think back to the story of the girlfriend who called her ex 200 times per day. I am certain you will agree her calling was obsessive. But do you not find it odd that the girlfriend didn’t see it that way? I can imagine with every call made, she thought THIS call will be different. He WILL answer, he WILL profess his dying love for ME and yes, he WILL acknowledge my very existence. Sometimes, when you are in the middle of a situation, it is difficult to see the over anxious activities and call them out as such.
I have often explained to candidates that if you call a Recruiter on Monday, e-mailed on Wednesday & haven’t heard back by Friday or the following Wednesday, that it is safe to assume s/he is just not that into you and, to steal a line from the book He’s Just Not that into You, “Don’t waste the pretty.” – meaning there IS a Recruiter at another company eagerly waiting to talk to ONLY YOU. But it is oftentimes difficult to think of the other possibilities when we have solely focused our efforts on one company and one position. Yes, there is a fine line between being persistent and being annoying and it is up to you to find that right balance that never tilts the scale in the negative direction.
We all know that guy or girl we were simply just not that into. No matter how many times s/he called, we checked out and found every attempt used to sway our mind that they were THE perfect mate as a sign of desperation. And I firmly believe the desperate candidate never gets hired, no different than the desperate dater never lands the first or second date.
So what can you do to show interest while, at the same time, keeping your cool?
1. Date a Couple of Other People (BUT DO NOT DEVALUE YOUR BRAND)
While this is not necessarily a popular idea, nor one I condone in the world of dating, I strongly recommend candidates who have identified their area of passion, matched with the right industry, to spend time exploring opportunities with a select few.
We have all heard the phrase that in every candidate + employer interview, there is a candidate AND an employer doing the interviewing. If a Recruiter or a Hiring Manager is not calling you back, there is a possibility s/he is so busy they simply have not had the chance to respond. It is often easy to take non-communication as a sign of rejection. Stop thinking that way. It simply might be the Recruiter does not have any updated information to provide.
But it is equally possible that s/he really wasn’t hit by the proverbial bus but that s/he or the hiring manager doesn’t really feel you are a fit for the role or possibly for the company. I recommend candidates explore opportunities within their industry of choice with other companies that might have similar opportunities to eliminate the stress that comes with focusing on one person, one employer, one recruiter, one potential opportunity. You might recall in my previous article, “Job Seekers Are Remembered for Their Passion,” I recommend you apply to 1-2 roles per month per company. It’s easy to do this and to still maximize your efforts if you target 2-3 top companies.
Let’s face it; we are all in the same boat – looking for the most qualified candidates while at the same time realizing we are competing with our sister or our brother next door for the same talent. If working for Company A is all you have ever wanted to do but Company B is calling right now, take Company B’s offer. Who knows what might happen in three to five or even seven years. Company A might come knocking on your door realizing what they have missed, with roses in hand, just to have the opportunity to have lunch with you to discuss that next big role for you in your career.
2. Network, Network, Network
I cannot tell you how many times a smart candidate will e-mail me, leave a voicemail message and follow up simply by showing up at the next industry event where they know I will be in attendance just to capture five minutes of “Hi, how are you? I’m still in the market. How are things in your world?” conversation.
Think back on the 500+ candidates most recruiters are working with at any given moment of their career. The candidates who immediately bubble up to the top are those who do thoughtful follow-up without being invasive or intrusive. It is important to remember that Recruiters are people too and life happens in between the resume screenings, the interviews and the time the final hire is made. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, but the candidate whose approach is genuine and thoughtful always receives a call back or the response via e-mail.
True Story: I remember the one candidate who e-mailed, called and then came to multiple industry networking events just to stay on my radar. I never forgot that candidate; in fact, I worked harder to ensure she received my first phone call of the day when I had something new to share (and sometimes I would invite her to lunch just to keep the dialogue going). Within months, that candidate was finally hired at the company. That is all it ever takes; someone to take a genuine interest in helping you land your feet firmly at the company. But it is hard to obtain that interest if you forget to master the art of dating.
3. Never Underestimate the Power of the Little Things
The person who remembers my dog’s name is Dexter and asks about his well-being, offers a helping hand when needed or simply writes a unique and compelling “Thank You” card and mails it via snail mail, is right up there as the greatest person on the planet in my book.
Because these are all acts, while small by most people’s standards, have the potential in gaining the greatest attention.
I am reminded of the Executive whose love of cupcakes inspired me to have three unique cupcakes hand-delivered to her office with a simple note expressing, “Thanks!” Not only did that executive call me to say “Thank You,” she sent my resume to other executives in the company – championing my addition to the company payroll. No, I would never suggest you send cupcakes to Recruiters, Hiring Managers or potential colleagues, but I will say if you find something unique about someone while developing that relationship; it is okay to include that uniqueness in your follow-up. When done right, it sets you apart from just the average candidate who is sending the third e-mail inquiring about the latest job opening. It makes a lasting impression that’s both thoughtful and positive. And isn’t that the point of any follow-up in this world we call dating; to make a positive impression?
James Wright is the founder of JamesWantsToKnowYou.com, a key business strategy developed to drive social media networking initiatives to attract top candidates; designed as a social media recruitment tool. James is also Manager of Talent Acquisition Pipeline Development at NBCUniversal.