should you show up without an appointment?

by Ask a Manager on March 17, 2009

A reader writes:

I know you cannot just send in your resume online and expect to get called. It is those applicants that are willing to try new things that might have a chance. I really want this job that was posted online. I have the experience and it would be such a good fit. Anyway, I applied online and I tried to get someone live just to talk with. I left messages for the H.R. people, but I did not expect them to call back. I want to go in with my resume and just say hello and talk. Is this going to help or hurt? I figure I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

No! Do not just show up with no appointment.

It absolutely could hurt you. If a candidate did this to me, there is a very good chance that it would ruin the person’s chances. This is because:

1. I’m busy. I set aside specific blocks of time for interviews, and the rest of my day is booked up with other things. There is zero chance that I would make the time to talk with a candidate who showed up unannounced, and a high chance that I would be concerned about a candidate who didn’t realize this.

2. The nature of the hiring process is that the employer decides which candidates they want to call in to interview. It’s their call, not yours, and I would be annoyed that you were trying to circumvent that process.

When I have many good candidates for a job and one of them is being a nuisance, I’m less interested in that person, not more. If you want to stand out, write a great cover letter, have a resume that demonstrates a track record of success in the area they’re hiring for, and follow up once, politely. Good luck!

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{ 30 comments }

henrym March 17, 2009 at 5:07 am

What do you say to walking in — before applying online and/or calling — and dropping off a resume, these days?

I understand HR people are probably very busy, and walking in hoping to get a meeting on such short notice is likely a bad plan, but how about just walking in, exchanging some friendly chit chat with the receptionist while dropping off your resume — who’ll hopefully mention how nice you were when handing the resume to HR?

Kerry March 17, 2009 at 12:19 pm

If you walked in and asked to speak to me about a resume you submitted, it’s incredibly unlikely I would consider you further. You’d be demonstrating that you aren’t respectful of my time, and that you think that social norms apply to other people, not to you. Those are not endearing qualities. If you really are a great fit for the job, I’ll call you.

If you walk in and drop off your resume, you’re telling me you can’t follow directions. Just about every ad has instructions for how to apply, and unless they say “apply in person,” don’t. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to get your resume into the system–that’s all electronic. That’s why you’re required to email/apply online. I haven’t known of a company that even still had a scan-in option since 2000.

Gimmicks DO call attention to you, but not in the way you want.

Legal Secretary March 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I’m thinking I might be the exception to the rule here? I saw the ad in the paper (back when you looked in the Sunday paper for jobs), I printed off my resume and cover letter and was about to mail them, when I realized that the resume wouldn’t be received until Wednesday at the earliest, because Monday was a federal holiday, and mail wouldn’t be picked up until Tuesday. Knowing this office would be open on the Monday holiday, I drove over there to drop off the resume. The receptionist asked me to wait. A few minutes later, the boss came out and asked if I could interview right then and there. I told him yes, and got the job. It ended up being a great job, and I was there for two years before my husband got a job transfer to another city.

jaded hr rep March 17, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Most of the candidates I hired over many years of recruiting did what was described – they responded to an ad, were called in for interviews, and got an offer. Why do people insist this is not the “real” process for how people get hired? Sure there are others too – referrals, networking, nepotism, agencies, but in my experience at different companies, plenty of jobs are still filled this way. If you’re not getting results, I’d take a step back and ask someone to review your resume, brush up on interviewing skills, reflect on your experience and how it aligns to your career goals, etc. I wouldn’t dream up new ways to crash companies, because you assume there’s an insider’s secret to getting seen and heard.

Anonymous March 18, 2009 at 3:54 pm

It has been my experience that most hiring managers demand respect, but are not always respectful of others. I think that the lack of simple customer service practices such as auto responses after receiving an application, make for a situation which pretty much begs for HR
‘Professionals’ to be pestered.

sari March 18, 2009 at 5:05 pm

I tend to disagree, however, I work in hospitality – an industry where guest service is paramount, and the applicant’s personality is almost…almost!…more important than their skills.

Sometimes a non-traditional approach, like poking your head into the office to see if you might be able to speak to the hiring manager, is a good one. The times when this is most appropriate (and when I have hired people who have done this), is when they have an excellent personality that must be experienced in person. Personalities really can’t shine through a resume, no matter how hard you try.

Anonymous March 18, 2009 at 7:15 pm

What is wrong with people that they don’t follow instructions? I’m sorry, but I’m going to rant about this for a moment.

Candidates are generally given instructions on how to apply. Follow them. I promise, if you’re qualified for the position and you have a great cover letter, that I will be interested. My job is to fill this position. Why wouldn’t I want to succeed?

In the electronic era, many employers won’t accept paper submissions. It complicated things for OFCCP and other EEOC requirements PLUS you didn’t follow instructions which means you are not qualified for the position. But you’re just concerned about getting noticed, right? This is what I’ll notice: your complete lack of a clue, your inability to follow instructions, and how little you value your own time by wasting it in my reception area, trying to convince the receptionist to call me. You not only won’t get the position you’re applying for, but I’ll likely never hire you for anything.

And Sari, you are dead wrong. Personality can absolutely jump off my screen if someone has a catchy and smart cover letter.

Susan May 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm

I work at an office that receives many drop-in applicants. If you are simply dropping off your resume, fine. If you are coming in the office asking to meet with the principal or take and office tour, that is annoying! I agree with Kerry, it gets you attention, but in the wrong way.

If you want to get noticed, how about having a great portfolio and qualifications? Duh.

Recent grads have been the most aggressive applicants. It’s sad to see that colleges and universities are not teaching job skills and etiquette.

Naama May 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Oh, we teach job search etiquette, all right…but the students most in need of those lessons are often the ones who think said lessons don’t apply to them!

Jennifer May 24, 2011 at 2:46 am

I know I’m responding to this two years later, but I had to comment about recent grads being the most aggressive applicants. I just graduated from university three weeks ago, and I have been on the receiving end of A LOT of advice about getting hired. (For the record, I’ve been job searching since December and actively applying since January.) Some has been good advice; some has been great advice (mostly from this blog, actually). And some advice has been to engage in these sort of aggressive, gimmicky tactics that this person heard got so-in-so’s niece a job. I say this because I have received this exact advice about following up in person and rejected it as rude to the hiring manager, but maybe some of my peers (who don’t read this blog) are less discerning of advice.

This does not make it right for them to engage in these sorts of behaviors – they have to learn to trust good judgement – but when faced with the constant nagging and unsolicited advice and extra special anecdotes, I can certainly empathize.

kat January 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I am currently working for the company and want to apply for an upcoming position at another store. All of this new technology is new to me. I went to the internal system to apply. It told me to check out the store and see if i would want to work there. I did that. It then has u apply, but it wouldnt let me. So my store mgr sent over my name. I then wrote a cover letter and resume. I called to see if i could drop it off. I understand how valueable their time is as well as mine. But the manager was short, and treated me like i was an idiot. I have waited years for this opportunity. This process is all new. I am perfect at following directions as long as i know what they are. During the holidays i met the asst. Store mgr. She was so nice,however; she. Told me her boss shooed her away. I did leave my resume and i will not call or contact unless i am contacted. If i offended or annoyed anyone i am sorry. I am a hairstylist,salon mgr. What is your advice?

Ask a Manager January 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Sometimes it’s just that you showed up when they were busy and rushed, so don’t worry too much about it. I would wait a few days and then call to follow up (something I almost never advise, but hair salons are more similar to retail environments than offices in this respect, so it’s okay in this case). Good luck!

Anonymous January 21, 2012 at 2:28 am

For teachers, it’s actually recommended to do walk-ins. Every single teacher that I know who has a job, received it because they took the time to drop by. Even when positions were filled, the principal remembered them and hired them if the original applicant fell through. I’ve even been praised by several different principals for doing this. Perhaps in some industries it’s a big no-no, but I would think it would depend on the culture and nature of the position.

Laura December 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm

This is definitely a delayed response, but dropping by schools to get a job? No! No! No! Most people do not realize that school personnel are much busier than your average manager. They have no time to talk and many school secretaries are trained to refuse all attempts to contact the principal directly. It is imperative that you be able to follow instructions in the teaching profession.

Melissa December 7, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I think it may differ regarding different states and school systems. In Chicago, we were actually encouraged to do this, and principals were very receptive – although you only do this during the summer. Every single person that I know who was able to get a job, got one in this way. Often when you go to meet the principal, you will see other teachers going from school to school as well. I’ve never been unable to get a meeting with a principal, and in fact many principals will mention that they appreciate when people actually come by to meet them in person, rather than rely on the internet or mail. I’m certain it does not work this way everywhere, and now that I work closely with school management I do agree that it can seem like a waste of time…however since I’ve had the opportunity to review teacher resumes and interview, I definitely would prefer it if candidates would come in person. Looking at a resume does not tell me if a person can teach. Only personal interaction and a demo lesson really does.

John February 1, 2012 at 9:22 am

How about if you had an initial interview that was 2.5 hours long, told they wanted you back for a second interview and have sent emails/phone calls for over month and been told “two more weeks” over and over. Anything wrong with throwing the suit on and going in then?

Ask a Manager February 1, 2012 at 9:29 am

Do NOT do that. They’re telling you they’re not ready to talk again yet. Showing up anyway would be rude, weird, and almost definitely a deal-breaker. You need to be patient. You cannot force them to move on your timeline.

John February 1, 2012 at 9:33 am

Just wish they had better communication than what they have been displaying. Granted the interview was with the owner of the company and I’m sure he is very busy, someone should have been tasked with keeping potential candidates informed of progress. Any reason not to call every couple of weeks to 1) Keep my name fresh in their minds and 2) See where they are in the next step?

Ask a Manager February 1, 2012 at 9:34 am

That’s fine, although you might try email – easier for them to respond when convenient.

John February 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

They have responded to 1 of 5 emails. When I get them on the phone they say I am very much at the top of their list, etc. just they haven’t gotten on to the next phase yet.

The Other John April 10, 2012 at 11:31 am

Not showing up is the advice of a person who already has a job. Applying online doesn’t work. Each job I’ve landed, I’ve landed as a result of an EXTRAORDINARY measure of initiative (usually this means contacting an employer over a dozen times about the same position) This is because people like the person writing this column DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU. They don’t care that your bills aren’t getting paid, they don’t care that your dog is starving, they don’t care about anything except themselves. By showing up, you force them to consider you as a PERSON, instead of just a name on a resume’.

So screw you, random “Ask A Manager” advice-columnist, I think I’ll keep applying the old fashioned way; you know, the one where self-important managers are forced to take 5 seconds out of their “busy day”, pause on stapling shit together and acknowledge me as a human being.

JC out.

Ask a Manager April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

Yes, that’s right, I spend hours every week giving free advice here because I don’t care about people getting jobs. That makes tons of sense.

I’m sorry you don’t like the advice, but that doesn’t it any less effective.

Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm

LOL ^ wow!!!

Cloa May 6, 2012 at 6:03 am

Sorry to twist your toes, sir, but I’m afraid that AskAManager’s advice is some of the best out there. All you’ve done here is make yourself sound incredibly bitter – hiring managers do not spend their days ‘stapling shit together’. Their job is to handle teams or even entire departments of people who all want supervision and direction. I’m sure that you think you could do the job better but, at the end of the day, they’re the ones with the power between you.

As far as applying online ‘not working’ goes – also rubbish. It’s been said here dozens of times: most, if not all, companies use an electronic process to search through résumés and cover letters for key phrases, or use online application forms that ask the specific questions they want answered. If you find a job advertisement online or in the newspaper, and that advertisement says ‘apply online’ or ‘apply via e-mail’, you turning up with a printed copy of your résumé and cover letter just shows that you can’t follow simple instructions.

Not a good start, hm? (I just thought I’d add in that I’ve sent in dozens of online/e-mail applications in the past two months – I’ve had 14 interviews and landed a job just last week. No drop-in to demand time out of someone’s busy work day necessary)!

Anonymous August 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

well said!

Melissa April 11, 2012 at 7:04 am

The Other John, managers are also human beings; human beings that are usually busier than those they manage. It is not just good advice, but common sense that annoying anyone is going to get the opposite result of what you hope to achieve.

It’s understandable to be frustrated and angry, but you are directing this at the wrong person. Especially don’t direct it at someone who has spent her free time trying to help others. There is a reason I and many others follow the AaM’s blog.

AC January 19, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Heh heh, a hit dog WILL holler. Nice comment Other John. I completely agree. Female managers famous for this nonsense.

White September 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I would like to ask a problem solving. When I was going to a job fair last week, I got an invitation for having psikotest on thursday. As far as I remember, the clerk of the company told me to come directly without having to make an appointment. That’s the reason of why I don’t call to make appointment even though the phone and name of the employer is listed on the paper. But then, I read several important things about making appointment first before showing up. However when I read it, night had already come and the interview day is tomorrow at 9. What should I do? Some suggest that it’s better for me to show up directly. I’m really confused. All this thing is new to me as I am a recent graduate.

Ask a Manager September 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm

It sounds like you already have an appointment (tomorrow at 9).

Tom Hardigree October 31, 2013 at 11:40 pm

I hired people for about 20 years and although I hired labor and didn’t take resumes, I did hire plenty of people who came by over and over because it indicated to me they were determined and truly wanted the job. I think some of you HR people should get over yourselves and think more about the company you represent than your precious time. I’ll guarantee you if I drop by to look in on you you will likely be gossiping about some applicant or coworker or checking your precious Facebook page. Talk to applicants who take the time to find your company and dare to interrupt you, Your Highness.

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