I’m getting a bunch of calls from recent grads asking to schedule job interviews

A reader writes:

Local grads, plus a few random people, are cold calling my small, newish accounting office to ask for work. Some have been very demanding about speaking directly to the hiring manager, owner, partner etc, but all the callers have worded their question in roughly the same way, along the lines of “I am a recent graduate who is looking for work in accounting and am interested in a full-time position. I would like to speak the hiring manager/owner/partner about scheduling an interview.”

I have never listed a job opening. It seems like they are going down a list to tick a box. When they are told that I’m not hiring, they quickly say thank you and hang up. They do sound local and are calling from local numbers. However, the interruptions and firm (I read it as pushy if they think they have not reached who they are asking for) tone leaves me thinking even if I were hiring, no way would it be someone who reached out with these tactics.

Should I reach out to the local college to ask them if they are behind this? Or try to grill the next caller? It’s only one or two a week so far, but it used to be one a month. Is this a “thing” now?

It’s not a thing. Or at least it shouldn’t be a thing.

What is a thing, to some extent, is the existence of crappy job search advice, and some of it recommends that people use their time in this remarkably ineffective way.

But it would be interesting to (a) let the callers know it’s not a useful strategy and (b) find out if it is something like a local college recommending this (in which case you could contact the college and tell them that real, actual employers do not like it).

So yes, I would totally ask the next caller about it! I’m a huge fan of just noting when something seems really out of whack with how you’d expect someone to behave and asking what’s going on. And you can even do it with strangers, particularly when a stranger is asking you for a favor.

With the next caller who does this, why not say this: “I’m not currently hiring, but I wonder if I can ask you a question. I’ve received a lot of these calls recently, and it’s not a job search tactic that I’d recommend. Most employers aren’t going to respond positively to it. I’m so curious — are you being encouraged to do this by your college, or is there someone else who’s pushing this idea? I’d love to understand what’s behind the sudden influx of calls that I’m getting.”

Say it nicely, of course — your tone should be kind and genuinely inquisitive, not lecturing.

Try this with a handful of these callers, and then come back and let us know what they tell us.

Meanwhile, anyone who is thinking that making these calls sounds like a good idea: If you want an employer to consider interviewing you, sending in your resume and a well-crafted cover letter is a far more effective strategy than calling random strangers who know nothing about you to set up interviews for jobs that may not exist.

{ 337 comments… read them below }

  1. Trix

    Ugh; I remember when I applied for a part time job in high school my mom MADE me call the restaurant every night, ask for the manager and say, “Hi, this is Trix calling. I just wanted to check on the status of my application.” I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. But, still, I did it because it was my mom and mom wouldn’t give me bad job seeking advice, right??? Funnily enough, I never did get hired there!

    1. Kai

      Yeah, I hounded the manager at the local Barnes and Noble in college when I really, really wanted a job there. So odd how I didn’t get it…

      1. LJL

        However, for some folks it worked. My husband got his first professional job that way…by stopping by the mental hospital daily to ask if they were hiring. When they finally were, they told him first and he got it.

        I think that’s why folks continue to give this advice. They’ve known it to work in the past. I think it’s best to go forward with the idea that they are advising from a good place, but their advice isn’t good.

    2. grasshopper

      Yeah, mom (and dad) were wrong about calling and showing up in person unannounced to plaster applications everywhere.

      On the other hand, they were right about learning how to touch type.

      1. Anony-moose

        Oh, yeah. My mom’s advice tends to be incredibly out of touch. She’s owned her own niche business as nearly a solopreneur (has a few remote employees, shut down physical office years ago) but loves to lecture me on job hunting tips.

        But daaaaamn did all those forced Mavis Beacon typing lessons pay off! That + years of piano and I can type ridiculously fast which is good since I am a writer!

        1. Elizabeth West

          Mavis Beacon! That’s how I learned too. :) I’m so ancient we had typing classes in high school, but I never took them. Just wasn’t interested, even though I had been writing stories since fifth grade. I didn’t do Mavis Beacon until my late twenties.

          What I DO wish I’d learned was shorthand. I could have taken notes much faster in college that way.

          1. College Career Counselor

            Typing class in high school FTW! (now it would be called “keyboarding,” I’m sure) One of the most useful things I ever learned. But I didn’t get really fast until email came along.

            1. Sunshine

              It was called “keyboarding” 20 years ago (cough) when I took it. I don’t think they offer it now all. It’s just a given that everyone learns it at some point. Since most kids do the majority of their typing with their thumbs, I think it should still be in the curriculum. But so should home ec. No one asked me.

              1. Anastasia

                I signed up for a keyboarding class in high school assuming it was a typing class. Turns out it was literally a class for playing keyboards and we were taught to play piano.

              2. Intrepid Intern

                They offered it when I was in high school, from 2004-2008, although I think it was a more general class– I remember we learned Excel and PowerPoint as well, and that the teacher failed any assignment with more than 3 mistakes.

                1. Soharaz

                  Same where I went to high school (same time as you). We learned Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access and then had to do a ton of typing exercises.

              3. Pinkie Pie Chart

                Except none of my college classmates know how to touch type and are immensely impressed when I can take notes and watch the lecture at the same time. Mindboggling!

            2. Dynamic Beige

              I took it for two semesters. We had these funky typewriters that were state of the art with an LED screen so you could type up to 40 characters and see if you’d made a mistake in the LED, fix it before it typed it out. While I may not be the best typist in the world, I have to admit it’s painful watching people hunt & peck.

              1. Portia

                Same! Well, similar: I took typing in junior high but didn’t retain it until instant messenger took off. I had to type fast to keep up with the person on the other end, my friendships depended on it!

          2. ExceptionToTheRule

            I learned short-hand at some point in high school. None of it had stuck by the time I got to college.

          3. little class act

            Does Typing with Mario (yes, of Mario Bros, the NES game) count? I remember that from elementary school. I also remember my senior year high school English teacher being amazed that I could type on the computer without looking at either the keyboard or screen when he dropped in on me in one of the computer rooms.

        2. KTM

          Typing video games + piano FTW! I’m in the same boat and I am a ridiculously fast typer and don’t need to look at the keyboard

        3. Alison Hendrix

          My dad forced me to sit down on an old-school typewriter when I was about 10 — at first he showed me the basics of typing with the correct fingers. First week was just filling a letter-sized page of ‘asdfghjkl;’ (single-spaces, front and back). Second week was ‘qwertyuiop’, third week ‘zxcvbnm’.

          Then he told me to choose a book and type one letter-sized page (front and back) worth of a chapter from the book. When he came home from work he would go through my typing assignment and point out the mistakes I made (remember how you would have to hit ‘back’ and type over the letter?). He required me to do this every day during my summer vacation months, and he discouraged me from looking at my hands while I typed.

          I recall being the most dull and boring task ever in my kiddie life and I hated it – but now I am thankful. Now that I’m in IT, I type very efficiently. It gave me less of a learning curve to learn a bunch of Windows shortcuts, and I could fly between application windows with barely a blink.

          1. Alison Hendrix

            Also was forced to learn multiplication tables up to 12 when I was about 6, I didn’t even know what the heck multiplying was about at that age. I would memorize the tables and recite them to my mom — if I made a mistake, I will have to start from the beginning.

            My parents are quite the tyrannical educators LOL, but I realized it was worth it when I got older…

            1. Miss Herring

              Story! My mother and I were sitting on the front porch as she drilled me in multiplication tables. It had been going on for a while, and I was complaining that I didn’t see the point. Mom said that everyone needed to learn them, and that all adults knew the multiplication tables. Just then, a neighbor was walking past the house…

              Mom: “Hi, Mrs. Neighbor! What’s 6 times 8?”
              Mrs. Neighbor: “Oh, I never learned that stuff!”
              Me: *bursts out laughing*

              My poor mother then explained the situation to Mrs. Neighbor. Eventually I did learn the tables, though.

      2. Steve G

        My 91yo neighbor told me I need to get out more to find a job (as if I never leave the house), and she told me some buildings in Manhattan to go to and ask for HR and impress them with my presence. I was like, thank you for the career advice from 1977. Heck, you can’t even walk into personnel/temp offices anymore without an appointment, so to go into a company like AT&T and do it? Ca-razy! She told me she is going to follow up with me to make sure I went to AT&T and applied in person. Ugh. (Not to mention, I haven’t heard anyone say “AT&T is a great place to work” since the 90s, but that’s another story).

            1. BananaPants

              If you just offer to work for free for a few weeks, surely they’ll be so impressed that they’ll offer you a job!

              1. Artemesia

                That is how Bob Woodward got his job at the Washington Post. That and harassing the managing editor to hire him.

              2. pony tailed wonder

                Dave Ramsey currently says that on his radio show. He also advises going into businesses with a box of doughnuts for the staff to drum up sales for your business. JMO, I would never eat food given to me by a stranger who had just walked in from the street.

              1. College Career Counselor

                You should sit in the lobby and refuse to leave until they hire you and/or let you see the hiring manager!

                1. Creag an Tuire

                  See, wishy-washy advice like that is why College Career Counselors have such terrible reputations.

                  You should’ve already looked up the hiring manager’s name, then sat in his -living room- and refused to leave until he hired you.

                2. Nina

                  No, you mail them a shoe along with your application so you have a “foot in the door.” That always works!

          1. Steve G

            I know! I was picturing the ads with James Earl Jones when she was talking about how great the Atlantic Bell Co was, I mean, AT&T or Sprint or whoever they were in her day:-)

        1. Stranger than fiction

          Haha just tell her “yes I went to all those buildings and security asked me to leave because I had no business there”

        2. Erin

          My 83 y/o grandfather gave me the same advice when I was job hunting. He says if someone did that with him he would be impressed and hired him on the spot! I also happened to work in HR at the same and just silently nodded my head and pretended it was a “good idea.”

          1. Steve G

            Ha…you have to love my neighbor though, she is always a blast from the past whenever I talk to her…

      3. Tau

        My parents bribed my brother and me to learn to touch-type. SUCH a good investment. :D (Even if they did only have a US touch-typing tutor available and the end result is that I type on a US keyboard layout in the UK when I’m from Germany. Whoops.)

        And my mother actually hires in a field related to mine, so she gives good job-searching advice… for Germany. And so I managed to avoid the “go there in person!” advice but instead had my share of “no, it really doesn’t work like that here, really, I am NOT putting a photo on my CV no matter how much you think it would help!” arguments with her instead.

        1. BananaPants

          A friend of mine was an expat in China and wanted to stay when her expat term was up, so she was job hunting locally. She was so surprised that a photograph was essential and things like age, religion (for an expat), and marital status/number and ages of any children were considered essential on one’s resume/CV, even when applying to work for U.S.-based companies.

    3. Oldblue

      Well in customer service jobs it’s not so uncommon to do a followup call like this. But ONE followup call after a week, not every night. When I worked in CS I did this and got nearly every job where I did it.

    4. Episkey

      Ugh, a couple of years ago when I was done with my AmeriCorps service year, my mom insisted I ask my supervisor to give me a letter of reference to take with me. [Note: I am not in academia in any way, shape, or form.] When I tried to explain to her that a letter would basically be useless as future employers call references these days, she proceeded to get very angry and scream at me. Now I just say, “Mmmmm…that might be a good idea.” It might be, but it’s totally not. ;)

      1. Scotty_Smalls

        My boss from the University library did one for me (when I was thinking of working there after college) but my parents wanted me to add it to every application. I already knew that wasn’t a great idea but damn they got mad when I explained that most employers wouldn’t care.

      2. Three Thousand

        My mom does the “get very angry and scream” thing as well. I think she can’t imagine I could possibly know something she doesn’t, or that something that sounds good to her might not work universally. I never learned to deal with it any other way but humoring her and doing what I needed to do anyway.

        1. Artemesia

          When my son was about to graduate with his advanced degree I asked him where he had been looking for work and he said ‘oh I am waiting till I get the thesis done and have time.’ I freaked (inwardly) because I have always had professions where there were literally 100 qualified people for any job.

          He had three fabulous offers in two weeks. So I guess he knew his own field. Recently same deal; he took a lengthy work break and when he started to look for something had several fabulous offers quickly.

          I know actually quite a lot about looking for jobs. I am never giving him any advice.

          1. Three Thousand

            She actually does have a lot of good advice for how I should structure my price list on my website and that kind of thing, since she owns several small businesses herself. But for whatever reason we can’t have productive conversations without some screaming to clear the air.

      3. Nina

        My mother doesn’t yell, but she gets very exasperated, like “Fine! Clearly you have all the answers anyway!” and storms off. I love her, but we do not talk about job hunting.

    5. Harriet

      My dad told me to wear jeans to a job interview when I was a teenager. Everyone else was in smart trousers, I didn’t get the job, and have never been able to figure out if he genuinely thought this was a good idea or if he didn’t think the job was suitable and didn’t want me to get it…

      1. Career Counselorette

        My dad once insisted on accompanying me to a job interview that turned out to be for Cutco knives. He embarrassed the hell out of me by hovering over me while I filled out the application, loudly yelling about the “inappropriate rap music” that they were playing in reception, and snorting conspicuously throughout the presentation. I practically had to fight him not to come into the one-on-one with me. Of course, they offered me the opportunity, because anyone who needs her dad to go to interviews with her must be a rube. I didn’t take it, of course.

        Later my sister told my parents she was going to the library one day and came back a Cutco knife saleswoman. My dad was so pissed.

        1. Audiophile

          This is the best story I’ve heard on here in the while. Thankfully, my mom would never accompany me, but I do get the third degree about “pay.” “But they’ll think you’re crazy, if you don’t ask what a job pays.” I’ve learned to make up salaries and pretend I asked what jobs pay. I spent far too much time trying to explain why you don’t ask about pay.

          1. Artemesia

            I did coach my daughter about negotiating and she always got more than her peers as a result. But then she asked. I think that is the key to advice — no one hears the answer to a question they haven’t asked.

            1. Audiophile

              But that’s different. My mom was insisting that I ask what a job pays, even though most here would agree that that is a slippery slope. You’ll likely be written off as disinterested or only concerned with pay if you ask too early. It’s not as if the company is going to call and say “Artemesia, we’d like to offer you the job, the hours are x and you can start within two weeks right? Ok see you in two weeks. Click.” Salary is going to be discussed.

              I’ve never negotiated, mainly because the last 5 years I’ve worked jobs where the salary was set and there was no wiggle room. And now, seguing into the non-profit sector, I’m finding most have a set budget and there isn’t wiggle room.

        2. Sarah

          When I was a student I’d do the interviews for new students, with a professor, as that was the style (art school). I am still proud of being VERY polite to the dad who asked if he should come into his daughter’s interview….

    6. NickelandDime

      My mom didn’t make me call to follow up. She did make me put on a nice outfit and go to places and ask for applications. It was okay to request applications directly at retail and fast food places at that time. I did get positive feedback from employers for my professional appearance.

      That taught me that appearance matters. I’ve been a stickler about professional dress ever since.

    7. Koko

      This tactic actually did work for me to get hired at a pizza place in college. I came by in person maybe 3 times in 2 weeks and on the 3rd visit he sat me down, interviewed me, and hired me on the spot. The GM had a stack of about 100 applications on the desk and turnover is high. Non-high-end food service and retail are probably the one sector where this tactic can work, because they have high turnover and lots of applicants who are essentially equally qualified to do unskilled labor. Sooner or not-so-later someone is going to quit or get fired and the manager is going to have to arbitrarily pick someone out of that stack of 100 applications, and it’s a lot easier for him to just hire the persistent candidate than bother interviewing anyone else. Someone who wants a job that badly is probably less likely than the average applicant to have some kind of work ethic (the main thing that matters in service jobs), and considering most GMs work very long hours for salary that ends up working out to not so much per hour, they’re usually eager to do whatever they can to reduce time spent on hiring.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        That’s actually how a lot of non-corporate restaurants still hire. Other than that yeah I dont recomend it

    8. Rebecca

      Ugh, when I was a retail manager, this was the fastest way to get your application put on the bottom of the pile!

    9. LookyLou

      Makes my laugh so much, my friend actually got hired that way! She had applied at the same coffee shop I worked at and her mother made her call (she also called herself) so much that the manager had no choice but to just give her the job!

    10. Afiendishingy

      We’re constantly recruiting for temporary part time positions and there are always a handful of people who’ve gotten this advice somewhere. Our poor HR assistant gets the brunt of it. There have been people who have called/emailed like 5 times a day- so at least your mom didn’t make you do that!

    11. KH

      I got the same advice from a high school career counselor. The idea was that they would remember you for being persistent and when a job does come up, you’d be the first person that comes to mind. Brother.

  2. AMG

    Or you could set up a voice mail box with what you want to say about this. Anytime the person answering the phone gets one of these calls, send them straight to that mailbox that isn’t set up to receive messages after the outgoing notification. If they call back after that, speak with them, get their resume and let them know that they are on the ‘do not hire’ list.

    1. ZSD

      That seems like a pretty harsh way to deal with people who are apparently recent grads. It’s really not their fault that they can’t yet differentiate good advice from bad!

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Agreed. Alisons advice is perfect and that way she’s doing a public service by helping these grads help themselves

    2. HarryV

      Horrible advice. You give the wrong impression that an action is left with your company and the caller will simply keep calling to follow up on the v/m. Be straight forward and end it there.

    3. AMG

      Not if you have the right outgoing message. A polite message outlining what should be done will take care of most of it.

  3. Kristine

    My college had a “career coach” on staff who basically gave this advice. He said that the only way to get the job you wanted was to get in on the ground floor and speak directly to the hiring manager. He was adamant that submitting your resume into the void wouldn’t get you anywhere, you had to introduce yourself personally. Funny enough, he also gave terrible resume advice.

      1. JJ

        Hahaha, I had the same thought! I love quoting this article in a mocking tone around people who are condescending towards young people struggling to find jobs.

    1. BRR

      That’s such common advice. The tough part is there is a small but not insignificant number of hiring managers who like it when candidates do this for a number of reasons.

      1. OhNo

        What’s the appeal of this for hiring managers, I wonder? I can’t imagine ever responding well to someone who used this tactic.

        1. BRR

          In addition to Alison’s reason, I’ve heard a couple say they “are impressed by the candidates initiative ” and others have said how they have recruiters who screen for them and suck at it but they can’t achieve institutional change so they end up with better candidates this way.

            1. BRR

              There’s probably like three people out there who like this. The same who people enjoy black licorice.

              1. ohgoodness~

                oh, god. our hiring manager loves black licorice. i wonder if that has anything to do with our recent two week employee turnover~ lol

              2. Windchime

                I love black licorice. In fact, red “licorice” isn’t really licorice, if you want to know the truth. Also, you kids get off my lawn!

            2. Alice

              Is it different with retail? Maybe this was addressed already but I can’t find it. Once when I was out of a job I went door to door to shops in my town. I desperately needed something so I could pay rent and have money for food. One lady who owned a toy store seemed very impressed with me even though she wasn’t hiring. I hope I wasn’t committing a huge faux pas. But I feel like this was a different scenario and I would never just show up at someone’s office unannounced.

              1. BRR

                I think with “mom and pop” retail it might be ok.

                It also depends how long ago. I’m not sure but I think this type of thing used to be more common.

              2. KH

                My dad did this with me the day after I turned 16. He drove me down to the nearest shopping center and said “you can call me for a ride when you either get a job or have finished asking at every store.” Kept this up for about a month when I finally got a minimum wage job at a pizza restaurant.

      2. WannabeManager

        Ugh, I worked for someone who insisted on hiring the jobseeker who showed up in person twice and handed off a copy of their resume that reeked of cologne. “He has spirit,” she insisted.

        Yet they turned out to be one of our lower performing employees. Go Figure.

        1. Hermione

          (After asking for a copy of her resume…)
          Professor Callahan: It’s pink…
          Elle: Oh! And it’s scented! I think it gives it a little something extra, don’t you think? Okay, well, see you next class!
          Prof. Callahan (to Emmett): Do you think she woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll go to law school today.”

    2. Retail Lifer

      People still recommend this, but as I hiring manager, I’m not even allowed (per company policy) to talk to anyone who hasn’t submitted an online application. I can have an informal discussion, but I can’t interview them. Dropping in unannounced MAY work in your favor if I’m not busy so I can put a face with the name (definitely shows some initiative), but it really won’t make much difference.

      1. RO

        In my department and role it is actually easier to have a conversation with the person first and then have them complete the application and bring them in for a formal interview. If not be prepared for eight months of interviewing….painful.

    3. Tomato Frog

      My friend’s husband gave her this advice while I was present. He’s 31. She’s looking for a professional museum job. We had a good time telling him how wrong he was.

  4. Anonymous Ninja

    It could also be coming from the unemployment center. I know in our area, you’re required to prove you tried to find a job and some people do that by cold calling.

    1. OhNo

      Ugh, really? I wonder if the unemployment center would ever accept feedback from local employers along the lines of “making people do this is lowering the chances of them getting employed, because now they are on everyone’s Do Not Hire list”.

      1. De Minimis

        Yeah, my guess would be college career center, since it seems like they’re all following the same advice.

        I don’t know if people trying to check the box on their work search requirements for UE would be talking about wanting to work in accounting.

      2. Anx

        I don’t think graduation makes you ineligible for UI on its own.

        I know I was ineligible because I wasn’t laid off, I was no eligible for my because it was only available to full-time students on my university.

        If they quit their jobs when they graduated or their employment was tied to their student status, then I think it is unlikely this is just the unemployment center.

        Then again, most unemployment centers are linked to the community career center. So while they might not be doing this to fulfill UI requirements, they may still be encouraged to do this by a career counselor there, or as part as a different job training program.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      Ours makes you list a contact and phone number for each job you applied to :/ and there is a minimum number of contacts per week.

      My friend said her point of contact had to go and ask a supervisor how to indicate online applications.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Ours does too, if you fill out the paper form. The online form only asks for the number of contacts and you have to do at least three per week. I kept all the other information in my spreadsheet and when I had to go in and meet with the career counselor, I printed it out so she could see it. She barely glanced at it.

        I will say, some weeks, I had a hard time finding even three that were worth applying to. So many of them set the pay so low it barely covered my gas back and forth to work. And you’re required to take a job if offered.

        1. Ad Astra

          I did a bad job of tracking my contacts/applications when I was unemployed and I still sort of live in fear that they might audit me. I was earnestly applying for at least 2 jobs per week (as required), so I could probably dig up the information under threat of fraud charges, but it would be quite the undertaking.

          Don’t be like me.

    3. OP

      The employment center here just closed the office and went online, so that may well be a factor. I’ll try to keep the next one on the line.

    4. Elizabeth West

      If they have a computer and internet, then I want to say “UR DOIN IT RONG.” You can lie on the sofa in your PJs and fill out scads of applications. ;)

    5. Ad Astra

      When I was unemployed, you could get credit for a “job inquiry” either by showing up in person to put in an application or (if approved, which I assume is based on your industry) online. The rules specifically stated that phone calls didn’t count. Of course, these vary from state to state, so it’s totally possible the calls are coming from the unemployment center.

    6. Stranger than fiction

      Where I live you would just put the places you applied to on the back of the claim form every two weeks, but I believe you do it online now so im not sure if it still asks on the online form

  5. Katie the Fed

    Asking to schedule a job interview is so salesy, presumptuous, and pushy. It’s like a guy telling you “I’m going to buy you a steak dinner!” So offputting. And I LIKE steak!

    1. OriginalYup

      The analogy in my mind is that it’s like knocking on a stranger’s door and saying, “Hey, I love your place. I’ll be moving in tomorrow.”

      1. Dynamic Beige

        While it wasn’t “I’ll move in tomorrow” for a while there I had people knocking on my front door asking if I wanted to sell. One couple left a note. Another person actually hired a lawyer to draw up an offer. What the actual hell makes people think this is an OK thing to do?

        As a self employed person, I occasionally get people sending résumés or calling about a job, but it doesn’t happen often. More often I get some sales person from XYZ service I don’t do enough business to use (credit card machines, postage meters) calling asking for the purchasing manager. A couple of weeks ago someone called wanting to know about my health and safety compliance for my employees.

    2. katamia

      Ugh, yeah. I don’t care what your qualifications are. If you do that, it’s a huge NOPE from me.

    3. Laurel Gray

      Ugh this letter immediately made me think of pushy people when you go out!

      – shoving their card or piece of paper with their number in your hand
      – demanding your first and last name so they can search you on social media (creep much?)
      – tell the bartender to make you another of what you’re currently drinking even though you politely declined (scary and super creepy!)

  6. voyager1

    Probably calling from the phone book. No joke I had friends in college who did this 12 years ago. It actually worked. They were all accounting majors/recent grads.

      1. OfficePrincess

        Absolutely! I’m using one to boost up my monitor right now. (They randomly show up. Might as well find some use for them.)

        1. Kathryn T.

          I use them to start the coals in my barbecue, or a fire in my fireplace. Now that I don’t get a newspaper any more, I have to use something!

      2. OP

        This is fairly remote area, and yes, phone books are still a thing here! In fact, asking your family and friends is first, then postings at the local bulletin boards (cork and pushpin), then the phonebook. Most jobs here except for large firms are filled via someone who knows someone and are never listed anywhere. Rural Canada, eh? Calling around just isn’t done.

        1. OP

          Just to add, it’s not the backwoods here, sorry if anyone looked at this and thought that. Most people apply online for positions to large companies either here in the city or in the larger cities where they can move up in their career. The few small companies in the area generally ask around to family and friends for recommendations when looking to hire. We are our own recruiters, I guess. That’s why these calls are so tone deaf.

        2. Chinook

          ” Most jobs here except for large firms are filled via someone who knows someone and are never listed anywhere. Rural Canada, eh? Calling around just isn’t done.”

          As someone who, in the last 7 years, got a job interview because her mother mentioned to a customer/local newspaper editor that her daughter was in town and was looking for a job (which I got), I have to point out that it still works like that sometimes. That being said, I also filled out a lot of on-line job applications in town while working some local contacts for any unposted or soon to be posted openings.

      3. Elizabeth West

        Yes. I can’t make them stop coming. At least they sometimes have pizza coupons in the back.

        Tearing them up into tiny pieces is very therapeutic when you’re upset, though!

    1. De Minimis

      I did it once, about 20 years ago, trying to find a job as a paralegal from out of the area. I called to find out the name of the hiring manager, then wrote them a letter. Then I called to follow up a while after.

      It worked about as well as it would now, except that I did actually get a number of “no thanks” responses in the mail.

  7. GS

    Back in law school we had a truly ancient adjunct professor who had worked in Government his entire life. He insisted, on a weekly basis, that the way to get Federal Government jobs was to call and ask for the Administrative Officer, tell them about yourself, and then follow up by showing up at their office the next day. No amount of discussion could dissuade him from this “golden nugget of advice.”

    For those who don’t know about Federal hiring practices: even IF you could get into the building past the Federal Protective Service, nearly every non-political job is filled through USA Jobs or some other hiring authority. They don’t just hire people who show up at the door. Sadly, I know of a few people who did attempt to take his advice and received varying levels of scorn for it.

    1. Lefty

      We’ve had a few job hunters show up at our facility- most react well when handed a card with the USA Jobs website information. The fun ones are those who try to argue with the armed guard and then insist on leaving a resume…

    1. BananaPants

      During my Dave Ramsey devotee phase maybe 6-7 years ago I bought that book for my husband because Dave was raving about it. Mr. BP read it and thought it was awful and gave bad advice, and then I read it and agreed. Looking at his website it’s clear that he’s still giving horrible job searching and career advice now.

      I’ve since learned that several pretty crappy authors have had “best sellers” due to Dave Ramsey pushing their books, and the career/job-related ones are usually about as bootstrappy and “just show your gumption!” as it gets.

      1. AnotherAlison

        I also read it ~10 years ago, and agree with Mr. BP’s assessment. Gimmicky as it gets. I think a lot of the Dave Ramsey-associated authors are people who made all their money telling people how to make money, or people who were hugely successful in their corporate gig and are now entrepreneurs telling people to follow the entrepreneurial path just like they did (lol, because the rest of us all have a ginormous network of people to support us and tons of money in the bank from day 1.)

  8. Kelly L.

    Yup, I feel like they all are in, or all just got out of, the same class and all got their advice from the same person.

    1. OP

      That’s what I thought at first, but it started prior to tax season and is increasing, while the courses ended the end of April. Or maybe there is an online course I didn’t see when looking things up to solve this mystery. It’s not a big city here, we just have on high school and one college.

  9. 2horseygirls

    Ok, not to name names, but this sounds very similar to advice that Liz Ryan at Human Workplace gives, when she recommends sending a Pain Letter to the hiring manager of a company you’d like to work for. She recommends avoiding the Online Automated Application System.

    I’ve often wondered about feedback from the managers that receive these Pain Letters – do they feel like OP? Or are they genuinely excited to get this communication from someone who seems to see the problem clearly from outside the hamster wheel, so to speak?

      1. Steve G

        Me too, I read Liz Ryan’s things on pain letters, and they partially sound like a good idea, but IME all of the pains people could help with were way too confidential for anyone to know about so they could write about them.

    1. Anony-moose

      I just googled this and halfway through an article in Forbes still can’t figure out what a Pain Letter is. Just…a cover letter with another name?

      1. CMT

        Forbes really seems to dig these Pain Letters! I wonder what their own hiring managers would say about them.

      2. James M.

        Seems to be a cover letter bent on highlighting the (perceived) needs of the employer rather than pitching the applicant’s aptitude for the role. I think they’re salesy.

      3. Career Counselorette

        It looks similar to the way I advise people to write cover letters per Alison (focusing on accomplishments, making personal connections to the company), but I think that “You love hemp? NO WAY, I ALSO LOVE HEMP!” is really laying it on. Your accomplishment should speak for itself without you trying to sound like you’re about to sell them some Amway.

      4. BRR

        From what I’ve read you’re supposed to figure out what the company’s weakness is and then say how you would fix it. So if you were applying to Apple you would say how you can invent something that would calm investors’ worries that they won’t be able to produce another iPod/iPhone/iPad.

        To me, it’s incredibly insulting.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          Dear Apple,

          Your iPhone keyboard sucks! But guess what, you can fire all your engineers and developers that created it and hire me! That’s right, I can fix it…”

      5. katamia

        I had to look it up too, and it just seems like a slimier, salesier cover letter. Yuck.

    2. AcidMeFlux

      Oh jeebuz. Pain Letters? Is this Liz Ryan person real? Tell me this is not from Clickhole.

      1. Amber Rose

        I read her articles on LinkedIn sometimes. She has some ok ideas but mostly her advice is pretty gimmicky and sort of… I want to say childish? Reading her advice is like reading a self help book. Full of overblown “you can make your dreams come true!” talk and not much actual advice.

        And the pain letter thing seems super presumptuous to me.

        1. BRR

          I feel like her articles, and many job hunting articles out there, are more about what people want to hear versus reality (such as AAM). A person reads how they can “increase their chances” but contacting the hiring manager and they think, “Wow this is great, I will be able to get so many more interviews now instead of just being another applicant.” Expect that’s rarely how it works.

        2. OriginalYup

          I used to really like her old stuff on Forbes. The new stuff on LinkedIn is so far removed from my day-to-day work experience that it might as well be written in WingDings.

        3. Stranger than fiction

          Is this the same lady who is advocating mailing resumes? As in snail mail?

        4. Honeybee

          Liz Ryan is the CEO and Founder of Human Workplace and the voice of the new- millennium workplace…The genesis of the Human Workplace mission to reinvent work for people is Liz’s frame-shaking model and blueprints for a human-powered workplace…Liz Ryan has lived and now shares a leading-edge, practical and Mojofied™ approach to workplace challenges from recruiting new grads to corporate governance.

          There’s just so much gobbeldygook in here…

        5. Three Thousand

          She also says you should lie to prospective employers about being fired:

          The “we agreed on it” is key. If the “agreement” took place only in your own mind as the security guard escorted you out of the building, that’s fine. In the first place, your new employer’s HR folks probably won’t find out you were fired—that information is typically not conveyed to a prospective employer in an employment verification process. And if they do find out and end up claiming the “we agreed on it” was a lie and terminating you because of it, you’ll know those people are pure evil. You don’t want work for them.

      1. Chalupa Batman

        Very! I googled “human workplace pain letter,” and they lost me by paragraph two with this: “You’ll send your Pain Letter directly to the hiring manager’s desk the old-fashioned way, through the mail, stapled to your Human-Voiced Resume.” Yes, I want a job badly enough to seek out job search advice…so clearly it’s a great idea to bypass the employer’s instructions and delay my resume’s arrival by 3-10 days instead. And I’m not sure what a human-voiced resume is, or why they feel the need to capitalize so liberally over there, but I’m guessing it doesn’t get better.

        1. Creag an Tuire

          “Human-Voiced Resume” — is that like a singing telegram? Why on earth are you stapling anything to the poor man?

            1. Honeybee

              Yes, but it’s more than that. I found the article on Forbes. Ryan insists that you first write a short summary of yourself – the way that LinkedIn encourages you to write a summary on your LinkedIn page. (I’ve seen that increasingly, but I don’t know.) Then she says for each entry/job, you write a short description of the company, like “Acme is the USA’s largest stick dynamite maker, a family-owned, $10M business. I was brought on board to start a Materials Management function as the company grew outside the Southwest to serve the entire country.” Then she emphasizes writing a your bullet points in long sentences, like

              -Together with the Production and Engineering teams, I created Acme’s first Supplier Management Plan and installed it to save $2.5M in supply chain costs in my first year on the job.
              -When a rail strike threatened our ability to ship product in 2007, I created fast shipping relationships with local carriers and got 97% of shipments to their destinations on time, allowing our customers to stay up and running.
              -As Acme was being acquired by RoadRunner Industries, I wrote a transition plan and taught RoadRunner’s Buyer/Planners to use Acme’s systems and metrics. I’ve been offered a position at RoadRunner but am taking this opportunity to try something new.

              She also advocates leaving your graduation dates off your degrees and certifications, and then a “keyword corral” so that you can add all the keywords so the ATS can find them.

              I see this as kind of disastrous, mostly because it means that for any significant work history the resume is going to be like 3-5 pages long and a lot of hiring managers aren’t going to want to read it.

              She also insists that recruiting websites and online applications are a waste of time. I have seen a lot of career coaches say this, and I’m always baffled because 1) why would companies waste their time putting up job ads and applications electronically if they weren’t planning on using them? and 2) every bite I’ve gotten from a job has been from an online application.

              1. ReanaZ

                This is actually fairly common in the current country I live in. I was HORRIFIED the first time I say my ex’s CV (7 pages of extremely rambling bullshit). I’ve since seen more local resumes that indicate his was not great and was still too long (3-4 pages is common), but not quite as mindblowingly unbelievably outrageous as my “one page, succinct bulletpoints, unless you have approximately a million years of experience then you get 1.5 pages” American brain originally perceived it to be. Although American-style resumes are becoming more common and the particularly egregious stuff (marital status, personal/personality info, etc.) is no longer common, long personalised natural-voice resumes with paragraphs instead of bulletpoints are. Also, apparently it used to be common to put WHY you left your last job on your resume–and like, an honest reason not even a fluffy ‘to pursue new challenges’. This is no longer considered and acceptable practice and I’m still not even 100% sure I’m not being bullshitted on that, but I’ve heard it from multiple sources.

                I’ve had friends (but not hiring managers, so who knows…but I have seen resumes of people who have been hired that line up to their advice) tell me that my resume is abrupt to the point of being rude/inappropriate. Originally got hired here at a dodgy consulting company where 2/3 directors were also immigrants, so no one seemed fussed by my American-style resume. When I changed jobs, my current org offered me an interview on the strength of recommendation of a colleague who had done consulting with them, before they even asked for a CV. I hope to stay here for ages and not have to rewrite my resume into a cesspit of feelings.

            2. nona

              You know, I tried that, and guess what happened?

              Nothing.

              Because my bullet point resume was readable to busy people and my resume resume with complete sentences and paragraphs looks like a disorganized pain in the ass.

          1. So Very Anonymous

            So much better than the Inhuman-Voiced Resume, which sounds like a high-pitched monotone theremin…

      2. Beebs the Elder

        So if you start typing “human workplace” into Google, and then get distracted by the auto-complete “human worms,” you will find out things you didn’t want to know. You’ve been warned.

    3. Retail Lifer

      I can’t interview someone if they haven’t completed an online app, and that’s how it works at a lot of places. That’s really not the best advice to give in 2015.

    4. BRR

      It’s not just her, this is probably some of the most common advice given. I saw a LinkedIn article (which are all about being “edgy” anyways) written by somebody suggesting the same thing written by someone who was 1 week into their first job having graduated university several months prior. They also wrote to send in your materials in a big envelope so they don’t fold and it will get the hiring manager’s attention. :/

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I’ve never gotten a pain letter but, with a background in sales, I’m steeped in the pain concept + use it as a foundation for our marketing.

      I suppose if I got one, I’d be responsive if it matched my pain. Anybody who has ever tried that in an interview has misfired though because trying to guess our pain has so very many ways to go wrong.

      I think asking pain questions is a good idea but guessing what our pain is and trying to say how you’ll solve it, notsomuch.

      1. Hlyssande

        I am so entertained about this ‘pain’ thing because I’ve never heard it before now.

        When you say something about guessing your pain, I just picture an applicant trying to guess whether it’s your kidney or head or maybe a sore muscle somewhere that’s hurting you. If they fail three times, they’re out.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          Haha I’m laughing out loud at work…but in all seriousness, a pain is like a hot button, I only know this because I used to work in sales

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Ha ha!

          It’s sales speak and it’s been around forever, I dunno when it leaked out to the rest of the universe.

          At its simplest, it’s about finding the potential customer’s pain point and addressing that, the key point being not assuming anything. Your pain point might be as simple as price but it’s often something else. Example, your current vendor botched the last two deliveries and delivered inferior product, you’re embarrassed and don’t want to look bad again. So that’s your pain point and then selling to you is about answering that need.

          It’s a good tool for sales people because it teaches them to ask questions, listen to the answers, and then meet needs. Throwing a ready made pitch at someone’s whose pain point isn’t even addressed in the pitch is a waste of everybody’s time.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            The “pain point” is a very substantial part of the Sandler Selling System, or so I am told. This year, I learned about what I call the Training Industry and there is so much usage of the term pain that I need an Advil.

      2. Koko

        Yes, I’d love to hear a candidate ask what our challenges are and then offer up some off-the-cuff, very general suggestions about either what they would do to solve the problem (for a very experienced candidate who might have coincidentally dealt with this challenge already and have some personal experience to draw on), or walk me through how they would go about identifying a solution to this kind of problem (for a less experienced candidate who would be expected to do this kind of problem-solving on the job and needs to have a strategy for that).

        1. Koko

          But definitely not presumptively guessing our challenge and pre-emptively offering solutions to a problem we may not even have.

    6. voluptuousfire

      The little colored pencil/watercolor illustrations in her articles make it too self-helpy. I can’t really take her advice seriously.

      I read one of her articles awhile ago and a woman had applied for some marketing job and she thought she was a shoo in for it (resume was a line for line match with experience, interview went well, etc) but the job went to a guy she knew who had no experience in the job. Apparently he wrote a Pain Letter and Human Voiced Resume (despite not having experience) and the boss was so impressed, he got hired. I remember thinking “holy hell, Alison would have had a field day with this!”

      Needless to say they never said what happened after that. Chances are the guy got canned for not knowing what he was doing and bs’ing and hopefully the qualified woman got brought in. Or even better, she got an even better job than that one and mentally flipped the bird to the previous potential employer.

      I wonder, are her stories even true?

      1. Honeybee

        I can’t imagine that story is true – or if it is, it’s not the entire story or that hiring manager is just bad at hiring. As I’ve seen here in the comments, there are a number of bad job hunting practices that have worked on someone.

    7. BananaPants

      The only sort of job applicant who should send something called a “Pain Letter” is a maybe a pain management specialist physician.

    8. Three Thousand

      I came across Liz Ryan last year when I was job hunting and wondered what AaM would think of her. Her advice is definitely salesy, but in a more creepy, manipulative pick-up-artist way. The comparison to “negging” is apt.

      I like that she wants job-seekers to feel more powerful and less desperate, but I don’t think “pain letters” as she describes them are the way to go about it, precisely because the chances are high they’ll come off sounding naive, presumptuous, and tone-deaf.

      1. Artemesia

        It is the presumptuous part that turns me off. A hallmark of a novice rather than an expert is that they leap immediately to solutions rather than to uncovering the subtleties of the situation. Someone who talks about the process they would use, or responds to a stated problem given by the interviewer with alternative solutions they have used themselves may be fine. But the tone deaf naive interviewer who assumes they know everything and also that the interviewer’s company is filled with people too stupid to have tried the obvious is not going to get far with their ‘solutions’ to the pain.

  10. NickelandDime

    This makes me sad.

    Please tell them the real deal. Someone that hasn’t had to look for work for 25 years or more told them to do this.

    1. Jennifer

      Oh, my mom called my aunt to get job seeking advice from her. Did you know that I could totally type people’s term papers for extra money?!

      (Uh, yeah, 25 years ago. Now everyone has a computer or five.)

      1. NickelandDime

        I just snorted water out of my nose laughing.

        I know people that paid folks to type papers for them. I never understood that. My written drafts and my typed final were often so drastically different. I needed to be in control of what I submitted, and letting someone else type up my work wasn’t a chance I was willing to take.

        1. Brandy

          I once paid a guy $60 to type a paper for me. This was 1994, before I got my own electric typewriter. After that I did my own typing.

          1. Artemesia

            I paid someone to type my dissertation back in the day. The requirements were extremely picky and it was the norm to have a pro do it and this was before personal computers. When I wrote my first book, I typed the manuscript myself.

          2. So Very Anonymous

            Um, sadly, within the last year or so an elderly professor asked me to help him format his book manuscript for him. I (and he) thought this meant that I would just stitch the chapters together into one document, and voila.

            Did you know that if Word finds too many errors it throws up a box that pretty much announces “there are so many mistakes in this document that they can’t be highlighted individually”… i.e. there are not enough red squiggles to indicate all the individual problems. I did not know such a box existed. I couldn’t stitch together the chapters because the formatting was so wonky (endnotes appearing in the middles of pages…). When I’d stitched as best as I could, without trying to fix the wonkiness, that box popped up.

            I had to tell him that he would need to pay someone to format the manuscript for him (waaaaay outside of my job description– really, the stitching-together request was crossing a bit of a line). And then I realized I had NO idea where on campus to send him to ask for referrals. I ended up recommending the writing center.

            1. Myrin

              How absolutely fascinating, I had no idea such a thing existed! What kind of errors did he make, though? I’d assume that as a professor, he must know how to properly spell things? Was it the formatting that was all over the place and fucked the whole thing up?

              1. So Very Anonymous

                I didn’t do a spelling/grammar check (though since he is not a native English speaker, those would need to be done, and so I’d guess would account for some of the errors. From what I saw, it was tons of formatting errors… weird spacing on pages, random section breaks (I’m not great with section breaks, but I know how not to accidentally put them in), endnotes/footnotes appearing in weird places, etc. He is not computer literate (he would call the library and say he was coming over in the afternoon, was book X available? because he wouldn’t/couldn’t use the online catalog) and so I think he just inadvertently introduced a lot of weird, extraneous formatting. I really hope he found someone who would format it for him; the idea of that manuscript going off to a publisher in that shape makes me sad.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          Now everyone has a computer or five.

          Yup, five computers exactly, in a house of three people (two adults) no less.

          (That’s not counting the smartphones, tablets, or the NAS with the 2.4GHz CPU.)

          1. NacSacJack

            Gotta count the smartphones and the tablets. You realize those smart phones and tables have more memory and CPU speed than my IBM PCjr on which I typed my college term papers. It even had an extra 128KB ROM expansion . I used cartridge programs to type my college papers and saved them on a 5.25 360KB floppy.

          2. Artemesia

            Two of us and we have 4 and will be acquiring another desk top for me to use for photo editing soon.

      2. Sigrid

        I was in undergrad ten years ago and I didn’t know anyone who didn’t compose on the computer even then. No one wrote longhand.

        1. KJR

          I remember the first time I forced myself to write directly to the computer (vs. writing it out longhand then typing it.) It felt so weird, but I just couldn’t justify the extra time I was taking. This was in the very early 90s. I was using an early version of Word Perfect and thought it was the coolest thing!

        2. Tau

          It terrifies me that I have to say “me too” to this, but me too. …well, we did do longhand, but that’s because typing up maths is a huge headache if you don’t know LaTeX and still a mild one if you do. Other than that… everyone I knew had a laptop, and anything more straightforward to type went there.

          But we’re in the wrong timeframe here – I’m pretty sure that’s how my *dad* made money in undergrad.

        3. AnotherAlison

          This was true even 20 years ago (except for maybe Brandy who posted above). I even had to type my high school papers in the early 1990s, and most people I knew had a home computer then. No one was hiring other people to do typing. I had an Apple IIe that my dad bought second-hand.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule

            I was still making money typing term papers 20 years ago for people who couldn’t type, but home computers weren’t that common where I lived in the mid-90’s. They were spreading fast, but they weren’t ubiquitous.

        4. Purple Jello

          I remember reading an article by a published author who wrote about why it is BAD BAD BAD to compose on one of those Word Processors. I can’t remember exactly WHY it was bad, but it definitively was.

          I was thrilled when I got my first word processor to not have to either write things on 3×5 cards or cut up my draft to rearrange the order of my papers.

          1. Ad Astra

            I’ve had teachers who say it’s bad to compose on a word processor because that delete key makes it too easy to self-edit and overcorrect before you’ve had a chance to flesh out the thought you’re working on. There’s some truth to that, but I often found when I was writing by hand that I’d lose my train of thought in the time it took to scratch out all those words by hand. So it’s a trade-off.

            And if you ask me, it’s easier to unlearn the habit of self-editing than it is to train your hands to write faster.

            1. Artemesia

              The problem I saw having taught high school in the 60s and then college later was that when people have the material on a computer they don’t really edit or redraft, they just fiddle or insert. I used to give comprehensive feedback on an essay and the student would actually re-write it, because it had to be retyped anyway. With a computer, they are likely to take the comment literally and insert one sentence to ‘fix’ the problem when the real issue is the need to redraft.

              We aren’t going back to typewriters or clay tablets though so it is what it is and teachers or editors need to be able to figure out methods to encourage genuine re-drafting.

              I remember submitting a book draft with a non-writing co-author who had done one chapter. It came back literally with a note that said ‘the first chapter needs to go in the shredder and be completely re-written; after that it picks up and sings.’ So I wrote that chapter too.

      3. Honeybee

        You can still make money typing people’s term papers for them…if you are also writing the paper. Heh.

  11. Lily in NYC

    I feel like this is a great opportunity to have all of these callers come in for an all-day group interview and then make them cook a meal for your staff.

    1. Noah

      Can I have them pack all my furniture into a moving truck instead? That would save me a ton of money and they get to prove they really want the job. :)

  12. YandO

    I was told by everyone to follow up on every application, to cold call potential employers, etc. This caused me so much anxiety and grief that it resulted in me not applying to job all together. I could not bring myself to do it, so I avoided it by going through temp agencies.

    Only after I found this site and realized it was safe to let go of this non-sense was I able to actively engage in smart and productive job search.

    1. Katie the Fed

      I volunteered at a homeless shelter and did job skills and interview training. They were required to have 5 job “contacts” a week to stay there – so they had to apply or call and follow up to get their 5. It was so futile and ridiculous.

      1. Rebeck

        The Australian government last year attempted to make 40 applications per month a requirement for unemployment assistance

        It was defeated in the short term, but may yet re-emerge, as they are just that dumb.

    2. E

      When I once tried to go through the local unemployment office after leaving a less than pleasant former job, I found that it was a requirement to apply for x number of jobs each week. If unemployment went on for months, I could easily see running out of good options.

  13. T3k

    Sadly, I’ve done this before (didn’t ask about an interview, but more of “are you hiring/doing internships?”) The one who told me to cold call was a parent, and I’ve since learned they’re really out of touch with how getting jobs is done nowadays. Now, if I am interested in a company, I try to send a general application (if they allow that) or email them with my inquiry.

    1. some1

      What you did wasn’t great, but at least you were inquiring instead of basically demanding an interview.

    2. Shannon

      Yeah, that’s not horrible. A lot of the context depends on the size of the business – a lot of smaller businesses around here don’t have a jobs section on their web site…. or even a web site.

      1. KJR

        My company is still on the smallish size, and I sometimes get cold calls asking if we’re hiring. I take every one of them and let them know what we are hiring for, if at all. Granted, we’re talking a few calls a month at the most, so it’s not like it’s putting me out or anything.

  14. some1

    “Oh, thank god you called; we’ve just been stuffing all of our invoices, checks and tax documents in a drawer. It didn’t occur to me until you called that I could hire someone to do something with that.”

    1. OP

      This is soooooo tempting! If Alison’s wording goes over their heads and they call again (so far I don’t think anyone has tried twice) this just might happen.

      1. some1

        Yeah, I feel like the cold-calling advice made sense 20 or so years ago when an employer had to spend $ to place a Help Wanted for office positions. Now employers have zero incentive to talk to a candidate just for reaching out.

        1. Three Thousand

          You still have to spend money, don’t you? Even Craigslist won’t let you post job ads for free.

  15. Noah

    I agree that sending resumes put into the void or online application systems not the best way to get a job. Most of mine were through networking and someone would either tell me that the company was hiring or tell the hiring manager they should reach out to me. I don’t think I’m a rockstar employee, but I do try to keep in touch with past coworkers and am involved in the industry.

    I can say, that cold calls like this drive me nuts. I either transfer the calls to HR or direct the caller to the careers page of our website. We are not going to make a connection on the phone and outside of a genuine network connection, I want you to fill out the application and send in your resume.

    1. Steve G

      I’ve only gotten jobs through online applications. Yes I’ve tried networking, but then it turns into a game of “I have to take this or that job based on what is available in my limited network” vs. “I have free reign to apply to anything I want”

        1. S

          Personally, every job I’ve gotten is through Indeed postings, but I’ve had much better luck with applications that are emailed to a person or even a general jobs email than the ones that go through an ATS.

          However, we just hired someone that came in for an informational interview a year ago. She was our first thought when this position opened up. We reached out directly and didn’t post the opening anywhere. So I can see the argument for networking; it has value, but only if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and have the right people on your side.

        2. NickelandDime

          I’ve only gotten one job through a networking contact – and we both agreed in the end I should have continued to keep looking for jobs. Every other job I’ve ever gotten, I applied online. People emphasize “networking,” but sometimes there’s only so much a person can and will do.

      1. katamia

        I’ve gotten a couple of jobs through networking, but most of mine were through just emailing a resume and cover letter. And, honestly, the jobs I got via networking sucked because I didn’t know people in the fields I wanted to be in when I started out. (And since I just got a job in a new field, I still don’t really have any connections in this new field–I just emailed everything in, passed the sample assignments, and got the job.)

        1. Steve G

          I’ve applied to 177 jobs (some of them were a stretch, some looked like “fake” jobs but I still applied, and I am counting temp agencies, etc. so it’s not as crazy as it sounds) and gotten replies on 21 out of those. I would estimate about 120 of those were “real” jobs where someone was actually going to get hired (not resume collection or nice-to-have type job ads) and I stood a real chance of getting hired, so I definitely don’t think applying to jobs online is a waste of time or sending things into oblivion.

        2. Kelly L.

          Even the job I got through networking, I got by emailing a resume and cover letter. My contact told me the opening existed and put in a good word for me with the manager, but I still had to do the set procedure. Namely, emailing a cover letter and resume. This was probably 15 years ago. (These days I’m sure Taleo would be involved, ha.)

      2. Sigrid

        In contrast, my husband’s engineering company has yet to hire an engineer through anything other than networking. New grads are hired based on their professors’ recommendations, as the engineering faculty of most local and semi-local universities are part of the network. (Techs and admins are a different matter, and are usually hired through the application process.) This process has produced good results for them, as in it’s given them good employees, but they’re now finding it isn’t scalable — the business is growing more rapidly than their network can provide recommended engineers, and they’re having to actually throw the doors wide and use an application system (and doing it poorly, IMO).

        1. Honeybee

          You also tend to get employees who are more similar to each other this way. If you only want local grads who all went to the same schools and were trained in the same modalities and thought patterns, then that sounds like a great way to get new grads, but using a mix of different strategies makes it more likely you’ll get folks from different backgrounds who might bring something new to the team.

      3. T3k

        I’m half and half. One internship was because I contacted them, the other was through contacts. First job out of college was through applying, second job through contact. If this pattern repeats itself, my next job shall be through applying.

    2. Honeybee

      You know, I’ve heard a lot of people say this, and I have come to the conclusion that the real answer is somewhere in the middle – that it’s a combination of both. For higher-level positions and more insular industries, networking is probably the only way to get somewhere – I’m sure Satya Nadella or Marissa Meyer didn’t just apply for their jobs through the ATS. But I also feel like companies wouldn’t go to the considerable expense of setting up an online application system if they didn’t intend to use it.

  16. AcidMeFlux

    Back in the early 80s, when “What Color is your Parachute” was the go-to guide for jobseekers, I worked as secretary to a department head in New York University. I can’t tell you how much time I spent fending off people who called up and insisted that they had to talk my boss AND WOULDN’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER BECAUSE THEY WERE A PERSON WHO KNOW WHAT THEY WANTED AND HAD A LOT TO OFFER!! Even worse were the ones who showed up in person and insisted that they would SIT HERE ALL DAY, EVERY DAY UNTIL THEY GOT AN INTERVIEW BECAUSE THEY WERE A PERSON WHO clxcleigjoiwhonfosieorj. You get it. Luckilly my boss was a kind, savvy person who was also tough as nails and would keep reminding me; tell them to send a resumé/C.V. We’ll call them if they’re interested. Oh, and more than once I heard her say to really pushy people who had somehow snuck through and gotten her ear or shoved themselves in her face;”I’m sorry, but people who don’t respect my secretary will never be hired”.

    1. Ad Astra

      This matches some of the first job-seeking advice I ever heard. Fortunately, I was getting far better advice by the time I was old enough to be looking for full-time jobs.

  17. Indy

    I get calls like this (I am in no way, shape or form connected to hiring or HR) all the time, and the numbers are usually tied to a recruiter in some way. In my experience, they have called me to try to get an ‘in’ to the Major Corporation I work for, hoping that I will direct them to job leads. I also get these in the forms of blank emails from addresses mimicking companies I do business with. When I respond with ‘Hey, your email was blank’, I get back a ‘Hey I was hoping you could talk to me about opportunities for XYZ Placement to assist with your staffing needs’.

    TLDR; they are probably fishing.

    1. Sunflower

      This is exactly where my mind went to. Esp since they are all calling looking for work in accounting. Sounds like this is coming from a staffing agency or recruiter.

      1. OP

        Oh boy. I don’t even have a website (no worries, it’s still word of mouth around here, not that I’m a luddite) so if a recruiter thinks they’ve got a good plan going, they really didn’t look into this! I’m not on linkedin or anything, either, maybe that’s why it’s phone calls instead of emails, etc. I hope one call soon so I can ask!

        1. De Minimis

          I used to live in a location where only the bigger firms had websites. There just wasn’t a need for anyone else to have one.

          I bet that is a big reason behind the calls. I still think they are recent grads. I know when I was in school [in accounting] if someone didn’t have a job waiting by graduation they usually had a tough road ahead.

        2. Shannon

          You may want to consider an extremely basic web site. I really think that will cut down on random people calling and asking if you have any openings. At the very least, even if you don’t explicitly say that you’re not hiring, they’ll have an email address to contact you with and ask.

          My train of thought is this: if a recent college grad is going down a google search of “Accounting Firms in XYZville”, they’re likely to see the associated web site and check it out before calling.

          A web site doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy.

          1. Desk Bird

            Nope. A very simple website will increase calls and e-mail by ten a day. From every web designer in the world who found your simple website and can make it SOO much better and get you so many more hits if you just hire them to redesign it. Plus everyone else that even remotely thinks they have something to sell your business. A lot of people use business webpages to find leads these days.

            1. De Minimis

              Honestly no website would be better than some of the ones I saw….a few of the firms used the exact same template for their site [there must be one out there for finance related businesses] so their sites looked exactly the same other than the contact info.

        3. Indy

          They aren’t getting the information from my company website – they are fishing LinkedIn! I was wondering how, 2 days after I changed my name on LinkedIn, I started getting these spam emails against my new email address and not the old one, so I asked how they got my info. They seriously troll LinkedIn and then hand off your information to whoever wants to try and use it.

          So frustrating…

          1. Indy

            And to clarify, I don’t put my work email address on LinkedIn, they either A. Know how my company’s naming convention for email works or B. Got creative and got lucky.

  18. Amber Rose

    Lately we’ve been having an issue with people just walking in the door and asking “hey, are you hiring?”

    It’s super obnoxious. We’re a manufacturer, so we don’t have a formal reception area (normally the only people who come have appointments), so they have to come all the way to my desk, and then I have to find a manager because I never know when we’re hiring. And 99% of the time these people have no idea what we do! They just barge in having done zero research, and disrupt my work to ask questions that are answered on our website. Most aren’t even carrying resumes.

    Ugh. I know the job market sucks, but if you piss everyone off, you’re not improving your chances.

    1. Career Counselorette

      My favorite story about this (that I always tell my clients as a teachable moment about why you must read job descriptions) is that once in college I visited my friend in the newly-opened crepe shop where she worked, and this very young woman (like barely graduated from high school) came in requesting a job description. She spent a good long time filling it out, and then brought it back to my friend, who was in the middle of making a crepe on the machine. The girl asked, “What’s that?” and my friend looked around and said, “What’s what?” and the girl asked again, “What are you making?” My friend said, “This is a crepe.” And the poor girl repeated, “A crate?”

      Needless to say, her application went directly into the trash once she left.

      1. ineloquent

        I went to an IHOP once in Mississippi where the waiter kept talking about how excited he was about all the new ‘creepys’ on the menu. It was awesome.

    2. Hillary

      My last employer had signs in the lobbies of all the plants with the website for online applications, the weekly walk in application hours, cards for the temp agencies (if they used any), and their drug screening policy. There were badge locked doors between lobbies and anything else. It seemed to work.

      1. De Minimis

        When I was at Borders, they had us tell people “We’re always taking applications.” We weren’t supposed to ever say we were hiring.
        The difficulty was what to do when they came by to follow up. The manager would rarely want to deal with them, so you had to figure out a nice way to get them to back off.

    3. JenGray

      I have this happen all the time at my job and I also get a lot of people emailing resumes. We are usually hiring for at least one job sometimes more depending on the time of year so I kind of expect this to happen from time to time. I am the HR person but only related to benefits- I don’t handle hiring. One time we had a guy submit a resume and then he starting calling and calling and calling- the guy probably called everyday for two weeks. The supervisor of the department finally called him in for an interview and the guy was wearing what looked like very worn construction clothes- jeans, work boots, t-shirt. The jeans looked stained. Now we have a relaxed dress code here but come on its an interview. Needless to say we didn’t hire him. I also got an email one time from someone who claimed that he had sent in his resume through email and wanted to know if we would interview him. When I informed him that he had in fact not submitted his resume he argued with me. Well that means that your email was instantly deleted.

    4. Elizabeth West

      Exjob took walk-in applications (manufacturing). We had a math-ish test to give them also, and they had to take it on the premises. That was to prevent them from getting Uncle Bob to do it for them. Some people would come in in shorts and flip-flops. Some people had a friend/SO with them. Many of them would take or make loud phone calls while sitting at the little school desk in the reception area. One person (I don’t know who) stuck their gum underneath the desk part of the chair and I found it weeks later when cleaning. >_<

      If someone came in wearing nice clothes and had a neat, polite, and professional demeanor, even if they were applying for a shop position, I would flag their app with a sticky note that had a big smiley face on it. :)

    5. Artemesia

      Why isn’t the policy to turn them away? Why are you getting a manager to see if they are hiring? This is a matter for a policy by the managers.

      1. Amber Rose

        My boss is a kind hearted guy. He’ll give absolutely anyone a chance if he needs someone. And we’re growing right now, so we hire sporadically.

        Basically I’m not allowed to turn anyone away for anything.

    6. nona

      I’ve seen this, too.

      We aren’t hiring. When we are, the job listings are online. And we all have other things to do than deal with random people walking in.

  19. FJ

    Presumably, cold e-mails or LinkedIn messages are more acceptable? Especially if the company does not have a careers webpage?

    I am in something more specialized than accounting and I have several years of relevant experience. Sending an email with “hey, I’m looking for new challenges, and I’d like to see if you have job openings and I’d be excited to work with you because of my xyz knowledge…” Basically cover letter and resume without the formal posting… That is still okay, right?

    1. Sascha

      Yep, because that’s not disruptive. Emails and messages can be much more quickly read and ignored or responded to.

      1. RO

        I once ignored an email from an applicant who wanted to know when we were interviewing. This was after responding with time frame March vs. January. Next email I got was from the CEO with multiple executives copied asking me why I was not getting back to him. Keep in mind that we had about 12,000 employees. Disconnect.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      We look at unsolicited resumes via email. We came close to hiring someone for a very important job that way.

  20. Anon for now

    I was temping as a receptionist a few years ago for a company that was in the process of closing down. One person kept cold-calling – several times a week! – asking if they were hiring. I wasn’t allowed to say “no, because we won’t exist in six months” and the person kept calling for months.

    Though I spent most of my time at that job reading and watching youtube, so at least it was something work-related to do.

    1. NickelandDime

      You should have told them to come in for an interview the day after the company closed its doors for good.

  21. Erynne

    So as a recent grad (this past May), I just want to say that yes, some programs are telling us to do this. Mine did not, but a friend in the same graduating class in a different program said that their seminar instructors told them to call organizations they were interested in working with and ask about available positions and scheduling an interview, because “they don’t all advertise when something opens up.”

    Yes, I cringed.

    1. Sascha

      The flawed logic there – “they don’t all advertise” so you should call – that still doesn’t mean you would find out about open positions, like a phone call somehow magically gets people to open up. There are many reasons why positions aren’t advertised externally.

      1. Erynne

        I think I might have been so startled I actually yelled “NO.” My assumption would be that if they’re not advertising the position externally is that they plan to hire from within, in which case … I don’t work there, they’re not going to consider me anyway.

        1. Honeybee

          Either that or they are going to hire someone already in their professional network, in which case we still don’t have a shot.

    2. Fuzzyfuzz

      I could see contacting someone to see if they’d be open to an informational interview. But not calling. And not for a real job application.

  22. Sunny

    Alison, please please I know that you have many articles about how to get jobs and interviews but could you write one refuting bad job advice like this that many people can link to? A lot of well-meaning parents and colleges give the worst advice and many don’t understand what job-hunting is like in this digital age and economy.

    Advice like “pound the pavement” and “get yourself out there” don’t really work, espcially in government jobs where the jobs posted are the only available. And many times there is no way to “get your foot in the door” other than to jump through the normal HR hoops.

  23. Mickey Q

    Reminds me of the time a guy walked in and yelled in my face “Are you the decision-maker? I must talk to the decision -maker NOW!” I immediately made the decision to throw him out of the office.

    1. AcidMeFlux

      For this post, if for nothing else, it’s time to implement a “like” button, please.

      1. So Very Anonymous

        Because then you could have just given him George W. Bush’s contact information and sent him on his way.

    2. Jean

      Excellent decision!
      Situations like this make me long for a push-button that operates a trapdoor in the floor. Goodbye, interrupting visitor. Hee hee.

  24. Bee

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the college counsellors are the ones behind this tactic. My career advisor was a huge believer of randomly calling companies and asking if they hired. They kept saying that job seekers need to be more creative/innovative/aggressive when looking for a job. Applying to jobs with cover letters and a resume is old fashioned and that no one does it anymore…

  25. Susan

    Yeah, this doesn’t show initiative. It shows that you don’t understand social norms.

    I think one thing I’ve learned is in entry-level positions is that your responsibility, more or less, comes down to making your supervisor’s life easier. When I left that first position and started freelancing for them, I made it a point to always turn in things early, under the same principle (if people subconsciously associate working with you as reducing stress–since, in this case, they have more time to hit their deadlines, then they will want to work with you more).

    So if you call someone unsolicited, interrupting them, and putting them on the spot, what you’re doing is creating stress. People don’t have positive associations with people who make stress enter their lives. Don’t do that. Send a resume and let them peruse it (or not) at a time that is convenient and unobtrusive for them.

  26. Ad Astra

    I bet there’s a college career office behind this. Or, since they’re all calling the same company, perhaps there’s a “professional development” type class within the engineering/journalism/architecture/whatever program that’s pushing this tactic in the lessons. I wouldn’t be shocked if the class was required to use that tactic on a certain number of employers in order to get a grade.

    Please, OP, ask the next caller where they learned this approach and give us an update!

    1. Kelly L.

      Ugh, this would be annoying. You’d think they’d want to OK it with the businesses before roping them unknowingly into a class assignment.

  27. Dasha

    OP I hope you write back and let us know where the calls were coming from it would be interesting to know!

      1. OP

        LOL!! Now I really can’t wait for the next caller! Yes, I will update as soon as I get the info.

  28. Desk Bird

    At both my last job and current one we get a TON of people just randomly faxing their resume over. We were/are constantly hiring at both places – but not even in the realm of things these collage graduates are looking for. And they all go straight in the trash. No one has time to squint at a poor fax copy (our faxes are old – and almost never used) of a resume no one asked for. Most often they come without cover letters. No idea what these people are thinking.

    1. E

      My company changed its applicant process so all resumes/applications have to go online. It’s taken time but it’s rare now to get an emailed resume, unless it’s a referral from an employee. Even so, we ask the candidate to apply online so that we treat all applicants the same.

  29. afiendishthingy

    One of my reports brought her daughter in law to the office, introduced her to me, and told me she was looking for work. Ok??? She should fill out an application and list the MIL as a referring employee – although to be honest the MIL is one of my lowest performing employees who is soon to be placed only on lower level cases, so her referral doesn’t mean too much to me. But it was incredibly awkward and inappropriate to be introduced like this, the employee was there for her scheduled 1:1 with me (she works on-site with clients, I’m in the admin offices) and she brought another person with her with no warning.

  30. AcidMeFlux

    I have to confess that in work – as in love – in my life, my successes in contacts have pretty much been in what/who I’ve almost literally stumbled into. Someone else might say that I got myself ready to be lucky or in the right place. I dunno. But I must say I really admire you people with organized lives that actually play out.

  31. LadderClinger

    It’s a class issue.

    Just showing up is (slightly outdated) working-class advice from working-class people (especially working-class people who were able to score a middle-class job with that advice back when things were still more fluid). Until very very recently, hiring for a working-class job was basically the same as hiring a day laborer; they put out a sign, and if you showed up first, seemed trainable, and weren’t obviously drunk or a criminal, you were hired. Cold-calling helped you get in before the sign was put up, and showed that you were trainable, because you somehow figured out how to reach out on your own.

    I think it confuses people because on the upper-end of the class spectrum, getting a job sometimes seems to look really similar to the lower end — job postings if they exist have very vague sounding requirements, and they always seem to go to somebody the employers already knew from elsewhere in their network. However there’s no progression up the jobs ladder without dodging the elaborate set of hurdles designed for middle-class jobs.

    Until applicant tracking systems started getting used by retailers, it was only middle-class jobs that had developed the elaborate system.

  32. Matt F

    I remember reading on Ask The Headhunter a few years back where Nick would advocate a candidate calling a company’s sales dept, saying they were looking to make “an investment” in their company and use that to fish for leads in a selected company.

    If I were a sales manager, I wouldn’t be too happy with my staff’s time being take up by creative job hunting techniques instead of achieving their quota.

  33. Biff

    I think that these students might also be somehow mangling good advice about asking for informational interviews, and bad advice, which is asking for JOB interviews. They are really different things. Just a few days ago I sent a letter to a local business asking for an informational interview and the door popped right open for me. There’s a tremendous difference between “Dear Ag Teapots — I saw the open Teapot Tester position and can’t wait to schedule an interview” and “Dear Ag Teapots – – I’m interested in Testing Teapots, and have done some work in the industry, but I feel that as a major player in the industry, your testing department might have some insight that I don’t have. I’ve also been considering pursuing some higher-level qualifications, but would like to get a better feel for if they are worth it to major Teapot manufacturers. Would it be possible for me to discuss Teapot Testing with your Testing Manager within a few weeks?”

  34. LookyLou

    I think a call to the local schools would do wonders – since a lot are new grads there is a very good chance that there is at least 1 teacher or school actively encouraging students to do this to find a job. A few phone calls could put the schools on alert to notify students that this is not a good technique to be using and that they are hurting their chances by doing so.

    I remember once my friend actually showed up at the office and asked me if they were hiring. I told him that we were not but I’d give his resume to HR to keep on file. He then loudly insisted that he wanted a meeting with my manager “to discuss his qualifications” for a full time position. My manager then proceeded to waste his time for hours – he kept him waiting for a good half hour (where he kept on dropping how important his time was) and then gave him a nice pointless hour long interview where he asked him ridiculous questions. Funniest part was is when he started calling to followup on the status of his application!!!

      1. Afiendishingy

        Yeah, and you’d think the manager would have better things to do with his time??

    1. Samantha

      Yeah, both you and your boss don’t sound like great people. Why would you find someone else’s pain enjoyable?

    2. Retail Lifer

      Your poor friend! You can demand an interview all you want, and maybe you’ll even get one, but that doesn’t magically open up a position that wasn’t there before. If they’re not hiring, they’re not hiring.

  35. CoffeeLover

    A friend of mine in law has had a lot of success doing this (or at least way more success than he would have had applying online). He spends a lot of time researching small law firms, catering his resume/cover letter, then hitting the pavement. He’s not going in demanding an interview or to speak to someone in “power”. He’s had success catching jobs before they were posted, getting interviews and building his network. He’s also had a lot of success cold-calling people for informational interviews to build his network. I’m by no means promoting this method to everyone. This would never work in my profession. I do think there are professions and there are people who can make this work.

  36. Lindsay J

    I remember looking up cover letters online and getting the advice to include the line, “I will follow up in a week with a phone call to schedule an interview.”

    I remember thinking at the time that that was stupid as it’s not up to the job candidate to just decide that they’re going to be interviewed. I don’t understand why the people actually using this advice aren’t thinking the same thing.

  37. Verde

    With the last job posting we put up, I received several cover letters that stated at the end, “I will call to set up an interview.”

    Um, no, you won’t. I do that. And I won’t be calling you.

    1. Afiendishingy

      I definitely have written that! A lot of online advice on cover letters tells you to. I don’t do it anymore, but it’s really common bad advice.

  38. cecilia

    I totally got my first summer job in 1999 by cold calling the local newspaper and asking if they were hiring copy editing interns. They told me to come in the next day. I do not tell young people to do this.

    1. SevenSixOne

      Gosh, it’s almost like you realize that literally everything about job searching was completely different 15+ years ago and that things that worked for your specific situation might not work for anyone else!

  39. Chocolate Teapot

    My old copy of Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions has several chapters on the hidden job market, and how you had to phone to request an interview in order to access it.

    Suffice to say, I skipped that bit.

  40. POF

    My friends daughter wanted a job at a small local company that imported and roasted coffee. She encouraged that daughter to show up in person, call, email, send resumes just keep hounding these people until they hired her. She’s working as a go-fer in the company now – but I was so shocked. I would have had a restraining order put against this girl.

    1. SevenSixOne

      This is the most frustrating part of this advice– everyone knows someone who got a job by following terrible advice like this, so when you tell people this is bad advice, they’ll counter with “Well, my sister got a job this way, so clearly you’re wrong!”

      ARGH NO

  41. Mimi

    While I totally agree with the majority of commenters that this is not a good practice for graduates looking for employment, I DO think it works for internships, particularly those at small companies.

    I actually got my best internship this way – it was for a consulting firm that didn’t advertise internships on their website, but I thought they were really interesting, so I called – not to say “when can I come in for an interview” but rather “the company is very interesting, this is my field of study, and I was wondering if you offer internships”. Now working for the company, I see that the lack of internship posting online was due to a limited HR presence, and a busy staff. I am so glad that I cold called them, because I would have missed out on a great opportunity had I not. I now try to get an official internship posting out every year, but sometimes students call before it is posted, and I welcome their interest.

    HOWEVER – do NOT call without googling first – find out if the company has an internship posted on their website, and search “company name + internship” to find out if they post on an external job board. Interest is great, but when research is part of the internship, if you didn’t do any before calling me, I’m not impressed.

  42. Candice

    Hi. Have you tried searching your phone number on Craigslist? Perhaps there was a mistake made by a recruiter.

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