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 When You Should Call a Company During a Job Search

By Joe Stein

Probably the only time that a person agonizes more about when to place a phone call is when you are starting to date someone new.  Think about it…when you are thinking about asking someone out or starting to date, each phone call tends to be strategically analyzed and decided.  When you are in a job search, your phone calls generally face this same very strict standard of scrutiny.

There are a few milestone times where you are most likely to call a prospective employer about a position. Let’s take a moment to examine each spot and when you should potentially call.

• You’re Interested In a Job Posting – It used to be fairly common to pick up the phone and call the company (or even show up at reception!).  Those days have faded away over the last couple of decades.  The primary reason is that the nature of job postings/advertisements has changed.  It used to be where an address or phone number was placed right in the ad and you were encouraged to contact.  In today’s environment, seeing this information is very rare and most likely you will be submitting your Resume to a generic e-mail address or an applicant tracking system.  If you do receive an e-mail address of an actual person, you can send a note alerting the reader that you are applying, along with your qualifications.

• Your Networking Generates a Contact - When networking, you may come across information on a person who has an open position.  Usually what will happen is your network contact will call the person themselves to provide your information, but you may need to directly reach out. If this is the case, make sure to plan out your “elevator speech”.  By this, I mean a brief introduction of yourself, like you would have to do if you were on an elevator (between floors) with someone you wanted to introduce yourself to.  Since you have not had previous contact with the Recruiter or Hiring Manager, it is essential that you stay on topic and be respectful of time.  Try to keep this initial contact to only a couple of minutes, unless the other person begins to engage you.  The goal is to introduce yourself, communicate who you mutually know, inform the person that a resume is coming, and (if you have time) try to determine what positions are specifically open.  

• You Have Applied for a Position – There is really two parts to this section.  You can call once you have applied for the position.  This is really just to alert a person of your application, in order to try to get ahead of the competition.  You can also try calling if you have applied and have not heard from the company after a week or more has gone by.  This is really a “Hail Mary” type of phone call, as chances are great that there is a reason you have not been contacted – most likely is because you are not considered a viable candidate.

• You Have Been Interviewed – This is probably the most likely and most impactful time you would possibly call.  After an interview, most will either send an e-mail “Thank You” or even a written card via the postal service.  If, however, you know the position is likely to be filled quickly, you may want to call the Recruiter a day or two after the interview to communicate your interest level.  You want to avoid calling any earlier, or else you may come across as being desperate for a position. If you have been interviewed and have not heard back for an extended period of time, you may start to think there is not any value to calling.  I would disagree, in that a call can bring closure (as most likely you will be told someone else has been selected) and perhaps even some valuable feedback if you reach someone who is willing to share.

In any of these situations, always ask if this is a good time for the call prior to beginning a conversation.  I know from experience that I have answered my phone thinking it would be someone else for a meeting, or with very limited time to spare only to have a candidate on the other line.  

Don’t forget that regular job search professionalism applies during these conversations.  Avoid slang, don’t be too casual, and stay respectful.  This is also not a telemarketing sales call where you are trying to close a deal.  Your call should be just one part of your overall job search plan, so keep the contact positive.

I recommend leaving a voice mail if you do not reach your designated party directly.  In today’s world of caller ID and phone records, having multiple calls trying to reach a person without leaving a message will look poorly for you. 

Do not overcall!  There is really not much of a reason to call beyond what is noted above.  There is a point-of-view, by a few, that you want to show how much you want the position by calling the person multiple times with your message.  In my opinion, for every person you impress, there will be ten that you upset.  Why take those odds?

Many Job Seekers may think that phone contact is outdated and all contact is done via e-mail.  That is really not the case, and using the telephone is still a viable option during a job search.  A key, however, is determining not only what to say, but when to call.  The entire time, the goal is for the prospective employer to become impressed with your follow-up, interest level, and overall professionalism.

As always, best of luck in your job search.