By Deborah Brown-Volkman
Are you frustrated when you receive no response after you send out resumes, no follow-up calls to hear how you did on interviews, no replies when you are trying to gather more information about a prospective employer?
Well, you are not alone. Over the past few years, it seems like it has been impossible to get people to return phone calls. The truth is this has always been the case. The employment decision making process often moves slowly. As a result, getting back to you happens slowly too. But when you are out of work, or are trying to jump from your current position, the waiting hurts more, because the stakes are higher. In many cases, you can't afford to wait, because you need an answer now.
However, if you are proactive and creative, you can get people to return your calls. Here are some tips that work:
- Don't Expect People To Get Back To You.
This means follow-up on a regular basis. People get busy and do not always remember to get back to you because they get sidetracked on other projects. They are not avoiding you, they are just working on other priorities, or do not have an answer for you yet.
The person who wants something is the person who is responsible for following-up. This means you. You cannot make one call and then say to yourself "if the person wanted to get back to me they would" and then give up. You have to be persistent. This is how you will get what you want.
- Schedule A Follow-Up Call At The End Of Each Call Or Meeting.
Try not to leave any meeting or telephone conversation without another one scheduled. This way you have a time and a commitment from the other person to talk again. So when you are following up you do not have to feel like you are being pushy, rather you are fulfilling on a commitment you made to have another call.
- If They Cannot Give You A Follow-Up Time, Ask Them When Would Be A Good Time Or Day To Call Them Again.
This way you do not leave the conversation hearing the dreaded "I'll get back to you." or "I will call you." These words only keep you sitting by your phone for days waiting for it to ring. In the meantime, you are going over the last conversation in your head over and over again, looking for clues of what you did wrong. Don't waste your time and energy. Let people know you will be calling again.
- If They Give You No Commitment (Or You Were Afraid To Ask) Call Them
Here's a trick that is very effective. Wait 3 days after you've had a conversation with someone, and call them. Then, call them once a week until they get back to you. Many people feel funny about this, but it does work. The goal here is to be as nice and gracious on the first call as the 16th (or later.) If you get angry and it comes across in your voice mail messages, you will not get a return call.
Side note: Please do not think I am telling you to stalk someone or be overly pushy. If someone says they will get back to you, they should. Following-up is your way of ensuring that they do. One rule to the follow-up calls: if someone says stop calling, then stop calling. But this happens very rarely.
In many cases the person you are trying to reach just got busy and is grateful that you were persistent, and thanks you for following-up. You both win, they get a stellar employee, and you get a new job.