The Employment Clinic
By Lawrence Alter
Q: In a recent article you suggested that a job seeker call the potential employer after two or three days, even after sending a thank you note. Isn’t this overkill? I just interviewed with a woman who is incredibly busy, she seemed overburdened and was working a lot of overtime. Won’t it be a bother to contact her by phone?
A: No a phone call is not overkill. As a job seeker you have an objective of influencing the decision maker in your favor. Do not determine for her that she is too busy to talk to you. That is her decision to make. In most cases the hiring employer encourages and often expects the job seeker will call with any relevant questions after an interview. Where the thank you letter is an expected and necessary courtesy, the phone call is a diplomatically assertive way of keeping your name in front of the decision maker. It indicates interest and enthusiasm. To use an analogy, as busy as a “buyer” might be, the salesperson who calls on a buyer to present a new product does not merely follow up by sending a thank you note. The successful salesperson must exert other types of influence to motivate the buyer to favorable action. You are a sales person and your buyer is the interviewer. Follow up phone calls are one method of exercising influence on the selection process.
You should call and thank the interviewer for the time they spent and then be prepared with two or three good questions that relate to information shared during the interview. The questions should focus on your responsibilities, the needs of the company, and how you might impact any issues that were discussed. This will help to reinforce your interest in becoming a problem solving part of their organization. You might also wish to recommend a course of action based upon some problem that may have been discussed. This demonstrates your problem solving ability and helps the decision maker to visualize how you might contribute if you were the selected candidate.
Q: I enjoyed your article in the Pioneer Press regarding job search strategies. I have recently lost a well paying job in the energy trading industry. I have been steadily submitting resumes to advertised job postings without much feedback. How does one “get in front of key people” as you suggest. I don’t have a network of people who have connections to hiring manager. What are the techniques to use?
A: Your question focuses on two main issues facing all job seekers. Both of them revolve around effective time management. How can you get the most of responding to job postings or advertised openings, and how do you leverage your network to produce potential employment opportunities.
Responding to newspaper advertisements and online job postings is a laborious process. Our experience shows that only about 14% of all jobs are found through these sources. To give yourself the best chance of succeeding, if you know the name of the company, call and ask for the department manager that would be responsible for hiring you. Tell the hiring authority that you are aware of their need for someone with your qualifications and ask them for a moment of their time to highlight the strength of your background. Then send a copy of your resume directly to that manager.
If you do not know the name of the company, we suggest sending your resume one week after the advertisement runs. Since most job seekers send their resume almost immediately, the screener usually spends only seconds reviewing them to determine whether or not they meet the job requirements. When your resume arrives the second week, the number of resumes being received is far less. It is quite likely more time will be spent reviewing your credentials. And be sure you have your resume professionally prepared. It does make a difference.
Networking is merely the ability to develop employment or income producing opportunities through assertive contact management practices. Everyone knows other people. Do not make the assumption that your contacts do not know hiring authorities or cannot help you to open doors. Rely on your contacts for advice and referrals to others. Apply the networking theory of “six degrees of separation,” which suggests that you are literally only six contacts away from anyone in the world. According to Jon Kleinberg a Cornell University computer scientist “networking is a collective phenomenon. Collectively the network knows how to find people even if no one person does.” People in your network of contacts will lead you to other people, who in turn will lead you to still others. As you meet with these individuals to discuss your situation, employment opportunities inevitably emerge. It is the best single method of tapping the unpublished job market.
"Author Lawrence Alter is president of L.D.A. Enterprises, Ltd.; a Minneapolis based outplacement and career management firm. He is a recognized expert in career growth techniques. Send ideas or questions via email to: LDA@EmploymentClinic.com. Website address: www.EmploymentClinic.com"