In a recent article, I explained that being in the right place at the right time can largely amount to being the right candidate. I also wrote an article explaining why you may not hear back from employers for extended periods of time when you apply for their jobs. For both of these reasons, persistence is a virtue. But it's a fine line. Persistence can easily cross that fine line, becoming more akin to stalking. That will never help! Where this fine line is depends on the specific circumstances, the employer (or recruiter) you are dealing with, and (frankly) how charming you are. So, the guidelines I'm about to offer are all relative.
- What do you have to lose? Persistence may keep you under consideration (or even put your name back in the hat, under rare circumstances). Rarely will it spoil things when you're in the running. So, persist: what do you have to lose?
- Employers may appear annoyed by your persistence. And, if you catch them on the phone at an inopportune moment, they may genuinely feel (and therefore sound) annoyed. But we all respect candidates who can in fact be respectfully persistent. (And for some jobs, we consider it an invaluable quality.)
- So, how should you persist? First suggestion: mix things up. It does get a bit annoying, or a bit old, to get the same follow up voice mail every week. So, use the phone one week, email the next, and perhaps send a newspaper clipping with a hand written note ("thought you'd find this interesting") attached the following week.
- To help minimize the risk of being annoying, be amusing. Make fun of the fact that you are being persistent. One candidate (under consideration for a opportunity we have put on hold) left me a voice mail the other morning joking that her contact management software was programmed to remind her to follow up with me weekly, and until she figured out how to adjust that she would simply have to check in every week.
- Another approach to "take the edge off" is to ask permission. Each time you leave a voice mail, for example, end it with something like "as you have probably figured out, I'm very interested in this position. I hope it's OK if I check in once a week. If you prefer I wouldn't, just let me know."
There are two basic lines you want to try to avoid crossing. You don't want to get pushy, and you don't want to seem desperate. Avoid coming across either way, and you may well find persistence turning job opportunities into job offers!