when job searching, where is the line between admirable and annoying persistence?

A reader writes:

About two and a half weeks ago, I submitted my application for a customer service position at a company that I really admire. It’s the kind of company that seems altruistic in its business practices, and besides the perks the company describes for this position, I feel as though at the end of the workday I’d feel good just doing the work itself.

A little over a week after I submitted my application (and after hurricane Sandy raged through the area), I noticed that a member of the hiring team visited my Linkedin.com profile. I didn’t receive an email or phone call, so after another week had passed, I reached out to him personally through Linkedin Inmail and formally introduced myself, stated that I was still interested in the position (mentioning that I understood that after Sandy businesses were still trying to get back into their workflow), and offered to meet for a cup of coffee or maybe an interview so that we could discuss why the company and I would be a good fit.

A few days later, that same recruiter visited my page again. It’s been a couple days since he viewed my profile, and I still haven’t heard anything. I’m no stalker or try hard, and the last thing I want to do is give off the impression that I’m desperate. I truly feel as though getting this job would be a career changer for me, and I know based on my experience, skills, and what the company says its looking for that I would be a great asset to the company.

My question is, how persistent should I be in trying to secure an interview with this company? Common sense tells me not to call or email every day (I’d hate it if someone did it to me), so that’s not a concern. Does an email a week sound reasonable? Should I switch up tactics and contact another employee to see if I can secure an interview that way? Or should I just sit on my hands and wait? If so, how long?

I guess I’m trying to find that fine line between admirable and annoying persistence.

For most hiring managers, there’s no such thing as admirable persistence. Unless you’re in sales, we’re not making interviewing or hiring decisions based on who is or isn’t persistent. We’re making those decisions based on who’s most qualified, and one has nothing to do with the other.

That means that an email a week is way too much. After applying for a job, you can reach out by email once … although many hiring managers, myself included, feel that even that is unnecessary and slightly annoying. After your one email follow-up — which I don’t even recommend unless you can’t control yourself from doing something — do not continue to follow up. At that point, you’ll have expressed interest twice (your initial application and your follow-up). They know you’re interested. If they want to talk to you, they’ll contact you.

You cannot make them contact you by repeatedly asking them to, and if you try that, you’ll annoy them — just like you’d annoy anyone by making repeated overtures without an expression of interest in return. (And the hiring rep’s visit to your LinkedIn page wasn’t an overture back. It was simply a “let me see who this guy is.”)

And no, do not start contacting other employees. You’ve contacted their hiring team twice now. If you start contacting others trying to find another way in the door, you risk looking overly aggressive and like you don’t respect their decision-making process (which, uh, you don’t, apparently), and you risk alienating them completely.

Again, employers aren’t looking for candidates who stand out by being persistent (except in the sales field). They’re just not. They’re looking for the strongest candidates, the ones who show the strongest track record of excelling at what they need … and that’s something your resume and cover letter will convey, not your follow-ups.

{ 91 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    This sounds like my husband, lol. He obsessively stalks his LinkedIn profile and always notices when a recruiter from a job he applied to looks at his. As someone in HR I try to tell him not to get his panties in a bunch, and they’re probably scoping out a number of candidates. I honestly hate that LinkedIn shows people who viewed your profile!!! Messaging him on LinkedIn in was a little much, because you were basically calling him out for looking at your profile. If you want to follow -up about a job, send an e-mail to wherever you sent your application asking for the status of your application. Do not call, and do not stalk the contact info of other employees off of LinkedIn.

    If you have to question whether you’re going overboard with following up, you’ve probably already gone overboard with following up.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Let’s all just make a pact to never contact someone because they viewed your LinkedIn profile.

      Someone who is an independent contractor did that to me once, and it was weird. I viewed her page because we had 3 groups in common & something like 50 connections in common, and I was curious who it was that knew all these people I knew. . .It was not because I wanted to hire her for subcontracting, which is what she proposed to me.

      1. Anon*

        This came up in a department meeting yesterday. A hiring manager shared a story where a candidate contacted her to say “I saw you looked at my linkedin profile” and the group pretty much agreed it showed a lack of understanding of protocol.

    2. esra*

      If your LinkedIn settings are set to anonymous + some profile details or totally anonymous, you can’t see who specifically looks at your feed. Seems like this might be a good option for OP? To avoid temptation.

      I’ve been applying to jobs for a while (had to turn one down recently, woh woh woh), and I find it helps my sanity to just apply and then wipe it from my mind. Because sometimes it’s weeks or months before I get a follow-up.

      1. Anonymous*

        Haha this is what I tell my husband to do! Apply and move on and if it is going to happen it will happen, don’t obsess!

        1. Myself*

          Yeah, then the recruiter gets upset because you don’t recall the compnay (you applied to) off the top of your head because too much time has gone by. I thinkn it is okay to follow up once to someone, just to inquire about a job. It’s true that if they are interested, they WILL contact you. Sometimes, as in the case of a customer support position, there are so many resumes to filter through that they may only take the top 20 and leave the rest. I then think it is okay to Linkin with a manger just to keep in touch, but not bother. Hopefully they’ll remember you for next time.

    3. the gold digger*

      I didn’t realize LinkedIn showed who looks at a profile until after I had spent an hour googlestalking (or LinkedIn stalking, I suppose) my old boyfriends. While I was logged in.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I’ve definitely done this. I don’t have a real linkedin account but he could probably tell it was me from the username. Sigh.

  2. Bridgette*

    Trust me OP, we have all been there – you find a job that sounds so great and you just know you’d be perfect, and the urge to keep contacting the hiring manager is almost overwhelming sometimes. But please do as Alison says and don’t contact them anymore. Hopefully it didn’t weird them out to get the LinkedIn message, but for many people, it would. Submitting the application is enough. The waiting can be nerve-wracking, but sending an email a week or trying multiple ways to contact will just earn you a black mark.

    1. Myself*

      You know, it is not stalking just wanting to connect with people. I hate that Linkedin puts so many restrictions in place, then has the audacity to throw a bunch of people/names your way in an attempt get you to “connect”. Which is it Linkedin? Make up your mind.

      The point is to network, and if you ask a minor question about a job while attempting to linkin with a manager, why not? They can ignore you, or think, hey this person just might be good. It really depends on the INDIVIDUAL, not the company. And BTW I am a recruiter.

  3. Jennifer*

    Yet another way job searching is like dating (I love that analogy). Whether it’s posting an online dating profile or going to a singles mixer, just because one is putting it out there that they are looking for a date, it doesn’t mean they are going to accept the advances of someone just because they are persistent. In fact, if someone were perfectly nice but just not your type, it would end up being a major turn off if they kept on sending you messages without any reciprocation on your end. So now, you have turned indifferent feelings into negative feelings.

    If the company wants to get back to you, they will. Otherwise, cast your line elsewhere… there is always another fish.

  4. The IT Manager*

    … offered to meet for a cup of coffee or maybe an interview so that we could discuss why the company and I would be a good fit.

    IMO, this is wierd and was a misstep. You didn’t reiterate an interest in the job or ask about the timeline post natural disaster like what I would consider for a normal followup email. You basically asked for an interview. If they want to interview you, they will arrange it. It’s not likely that they’ll decided to interview you outside their normal hiring processes because of your LinkedIn message.

    And meet for a cup of coffee? Hiring Managers don’t meet for a cup of coffee with applicants, they interview a small sub-set of the most promising ones. It sounds like you’re trying to make network connections too late in the process – once you’ve heard about the job and submitted your application.

    Remember you are one of many (maybe 100s) applicants. If even 10% of the applicants demand extra time like you, the hiring team will find themselves overwhelmed with emails and phone calls. It’s only one email and one phone call for you, but its multiplied for them. That’s why you don’t want to do this; you stand out as one of the annoying ones and that’s not the reason you want to stand out.

    1. K.*

      I thought so too. It’s one thing to ask for an informational interview over coffee, but as an applicant, it strikes me as something that is Not Done. I’ve heard of interviews being conducted over lunch or dinner – but at the hiring manager’s request. You don’t outright ask a hiring manager to interview you for a job – that’s what your application is for.

    2. Job seeker*

      I think this is good advice. I am one job seeker that has followed-up too often and in the wrong way. Back in the good old days when you applied for positions you were given an interview then. I remember the personel department (that is the old HR) would interview you on-the-spot. I got hired this way. This was wonderful because you knew where you stood. You did not have to follow-up or stress when will I know. If they were interested and had a opening they would let you be interviewed by the hiring manager. Most everyone got a chance, an interview.

      When I was a younger I remember how much easier it was to get hired. Now, one mistake and it seems you are flagged forever.

    3. Myself*

      I thought question/ inquiry sounded intelligent and thoughtful. What’s wrong with everyone these days? There are the candidates that seem a bit too eager and then there are ones that just want to know. And applicants do ask to meet informally over coffee, that is not weird.

  5. needle*

    it doesn’t matter if OP thinks the job is a great fit. it’s not his/her decision to make and i sense a bit of entitlement.

    the best candidate doesn’t always get the job. it’s often someone’s friend, nephew or pure luck. when you’re applying without an inside referral it’s a numbers game.

    1. Mike C.*

      Enough of this stupid “ENTITLEMENT!” crap.

      Anyone who has worked hard feels entitled to work, to be productive and to have access to the basic needs of living. This isn’t “entitlement”, this is being a human being.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think needle is using the term here to mean “entitled to the company’s time” or “entitled to an interview,” neither of which are reasonable positions to hold.

        Obviously there are broader issues about being entitled to basic needs, but it isn’t one specific company’s job to provide that to any one particular person.

        1. AJ-in-Memphis*

          I think it’s unfair to leave a candidate waiting too long to hear back about their status in the process. They are “entitled” to some kind of closure to be able to move on.

          BUT being “entitled to the hiring manager’s time” is another matter. There are some hiring managers that are also working as well as trying to find someone to cover the extra workload. In my case, I always try to give them a timeline of when I’d like to make a hiring decision stating that “if I don’t contact you by this time then…” as an attempt to limit the number of “can you tell where you are in the process” emails and phone calls. It seems a little harsh, but I simply don’t have time to interview candidates, work with upper management on hiring process, do my work, manage a team and keep multiple job candidates abreast of where I am in the process. I just don’t – sorry.

      2. Ellie H.*

        I can see both sides. I agree that job searchers often feel “entitled to the company’s time,” as Alison said, and that this is a misperception. However, I agree with Mike that when you’re job searching, you really do feel like as a human being you should be entitled to the opportunity to work up to your capabilities. And it’s basically impossible, when you see a job you think you would excel in, not to feel like it’s unfair when you are not even (seemingly) given a few moments of consideration. In my opinion, job searching is one of the extremely few circumstances in which the two opposing perspectives are equally valid, which is why it can be so frustrating to confront the fact it’s reasonable a) that the company doesn’t owe you time or consideration or an interview b) for job seekers to be legitimately frustrated. Yes, life isn’t fair, but I think it’s still ok to *feel* frustrated that it isn’t.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s understandable to feel frustrated, but it becomes a problem if it affects the way you’re going about your job search (being demanding or pushy, sounding bitter, being shocked when you don’t get the job just because you had a good interview, etc.), which is often the case.

        2. A Bug!*

          I don’t think it’s wrong to feel entitled to work, period. Of course everyone wants meaningful employment, or at least paid employment. But sometimes it extends to entitlement to a specific job, and that’s where things get shaky and where the entitlement starts to be unreasonable.

          No particular employer has specific obligation to any given applicant just because that applicant feels he or she is the best fit, or meets all the qualifications, or obviously has potential to be a great employee if only the employer would give him or her a chance.

          And even if an employer did have a specific obligation? If it’s not a legal obligation, then it’s not really in the applicant’s power to make an employer meet that obligation if the employer doesn’t care to.

          1. Chaucer*

            I think the word “entitlement” is one of the most abused terms when describing the economy and job searching. I think what a lot of people describe as “entitlement” is simply frustration and anxiety. It honestly sounds like the OP is just anxious as opposed to entitled. The OP even said him/herself that s/he doesn’t want to come across as stalkerish or pushy. I really wish people would stop abusing that term, as it makes me even more frustrated, considering that I am also one of the many unemployed or underemployed graduates out there.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s coming up here because of the sense that the OP feels it’s reasonable to keep reaching out when they’re not responding, instead of waiting to see if a response is freely given. It comes across as a slight feeling that he’s entitled to a response.

              1. V*

                I’m not really seeing that here. The OP didn’t seem to really communicate much frustration about not being contacted, they seem to be new to the process and like they don’t really know where that line is. Other than this phrase “still hasn’t gotten back to me” the OP has really just been seeking advice and not acting as if they should have received a response by now. I don’t see the entitlement in this particular post, at all.

  6. Chriama*

    OP, I really feel for you. The world of social media has added so many nuances to our regular social etiquette, and it’s like trying to navigate a minefield. I get how someone viewing your LinkedIn profile might have seemed like a positive sign, but it really wasn’t. Someone looking at your profile means absolutely nothing. At all. It isn’t an indication that they’re planning to contact you. It isn’t even an indication that they’re considering you as a candidate. Reaching out for a “cup of coffee” is what you do with someone you know through 1 or 2 degrees of separation when you want to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with them (i.e. networking, which is a whole ‘nother can of worms), not how you score a job interview. So sit back and wait for them to contact you. If they don’t, move on. As much as this job seems “made for you”, the company is only concerned with assessing if you’re “made for them”.

    Honestly, making any sort of contact before you’vr

    1. Chriama*

      Ignore that last sentence — I wanted to say something else but it’s been said pretty well by previous commenters

  7. Elizabeth*

    Alison, this isn’t related to the question, but when I looked at Ask A Manager on my phone this morning I got some annoying ads that I don’t think I’ve seen before. They’re banner ads that kind of floated over the bottom of the screen and kept readjusting themselves as I scrolled down so they were always on-screen. In landscape orientation (which is the only way blogs are legible on my phone) it took up about a quarter of the screen. I loaded a bunch of pages, and while they didn’t turn up every time, they were there at least half the time. Always the same two ads – one for 7-11 and one for BJ’s .

    Just thought I’d let you know, since normally the ads on your blog don’t use such annoying tactics.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ugh, thank you so much for letting me know. I’ll look into it and get it fixed. (I use an ad network and occasionally ad types I haven’t approved slip through when they shouldn’t, so it’s really helpful to know when that’s happening.)

      1. Victoria*

        Thank you Alison for being so cognizant of your ads and for doing your best to keep them from being annoying! I love your site, that being one of the reasons.

        Back on topic, I’m sure the OP is feeling a little bashed by reading the comments here, so I just wanted to send encouragement and reiterate that it’s 100% normal to feel so anxious and want to contact the company. Do your best to not do it. Like others have suggested, write it off and move on and if they contact you it will be a pleasant surprise.

        1. Jamie*

          Speaking of the ads and it’s not a complaint at all – just an observation for the marketing types who run them. I see ads for one of my vendors fairly often and the personalized list of items to draw me in is always the exact stuff I’ve recently bought.

          I bought a couple of external hard drives and then the next time I came here I saw the ads for those exact same hard drives for the price I just paid. In case the marketing people are reading – show me some stuff I haven’t just bought and I will click over…but it’s weird. I know you want to show me stuff I’m interested in, but I know I’m interested in that stuff because I just bought it.

          1. Anonymous*

            I remember one time I googled an obscure software application that a company used, and for days afterwards I would be getting ads on this product. If they’re selling an enterprise software package, I don’t know how does advertising to the ‘masses’ like me help.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Jamie- that could be your browser doing that for you. I bought filters for my air purifier online the other day. This gave me dozens of ads for the very same filter I already bought.
            Ditto for the vac bags.

          3. Aimee*

            The big trend in display advertising is to target the ads to an audience that is going to be more receptive to them. This s done by looking at various aspects of your internet behaviors and then targeting you with ads that correspond. This is how I end up spending so much money on sites like Ideeli and Zulily. :)

            It doesn’t make sense to me to target you with ads for something you just bought though. A better tactic would be for them to see that you just bought hard drives and target you with ads for something else along similar lines.

            I worked with this type of advertising in my last role and still get freaked out when I look at a product online, don’t buy it, and then start seeing ads for it. At least that makes more sense than showing you ads for something you just bought though. :)

            One hint for the Holiday season, if you shop for gifts online and share a computer with people you are buying those gifts for – disable 3rd party cookies on your browser (or at least clear your cookies after you make a purchase) or they might see ads for the gifts you bought them.

            1. JT*


              I don’t mind seeing ads, but I refuse to be tracked around the internet like that and don’t allow it on my home computers.

          4. Lore*

            My favorite, favorite thing in this area: whenever I check the spam folder in my Gmail account, I start seeing ads for Spam recipes.

      2. Anonymous*

        When I click on Reply or Comment today, I’m taken directly to Nuvaring’s website. It’s taken three tries to get here, instead. Thought you’d want to know about that one, too.

      3. AB*

        I’m getting the same sort of annoying ads as well (only in my tablet) — makes it hard to read as you can’t really close them because after touching the “X” to close, they always come back.

        I hope you figure out what’s causing this, AAM!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Thank you! I think they should be gone now. You might have to quit your browser and restart it to clear its memory, but then they should be gone. If they’re not, please let me know!

      1. Elizabeth*

        Thank you so much for being a) totally on top of things and b) so reasonable about ads. I definitely support you having ads on the site – quality content should be able to generate revenue for its creator – but really appreciate how you keep the obnoxious ones out.

  8. Joey*

    When you think about reaching out to a recruiter or hiring manager just to voice your interest or verify your resume was received, stop. Now, imagine you’re the hiring manager who’s receiving tons of resumes and an applicant does this. What’s the first thing that goes through your mind? You’re probably thinking why oh why would someone call to tell me they’re interested when I already know they’re interested by their application. This is exactly what goes through the minds of hiring managers. The only time its acceptable is if you have some connection to the hiring manager or you got an error or something when you filled out the online app. Don’t do it.

    1. Anonymous*

      So true! I get calls from people asking if their application has been received. I respond, “Did you send it to the e-mail address that was provided?”… “Yes”. “Did you receive the auto-responder confirming your e-mail was received?”…. “Yes.” “Then your application was received…”…. “Oh.”

      I find people usually call with this question not because they want to know if their application was received, but because they want some sort of impromptu interview or something or to “stand out”…. truth is, you’re simply interrupting me by calling with a trivial question.

    2. Anon*

      The one time I didn’t do this, they really hadn’t received my application. I found out because I called four months later to see whether I was/could be still in the running, and they were like, “Uh, and you are?” In the end, I got the job, but I could have saved myself four months of being really, really miserable by calling. I always like to provide a different perspective on this issue. If your prospective employer is not very organized and/or there is a long timeline for hiring, it may be worth a follow-up. (Disclaimer: this was a legal job that had an application period that closed around 7 months before the start date.)

  9. Deu*

    Hello all,

    It is great and helpful reading some of the insights posted here.
    I wish to state my point. I believe that MOST of the positions posted online are non-existent.
    Part of the reason I believe this is that Job search-engines need to produce an income. and they do so not only through the posting paid by companies seeking candidates, but also through advertisements. Hence, to them is easy to re-post old positions only to attract visitors to the page and look busy.
    Another aspect that makes believe few postings are backed-up with a real position is that companies want to look as if their business is doing great, when in fact it is being extra harsh on everyone. So, to inflate their importance they post some position with no interest in hiring, call in a few potential candidates, and never hire anyone.
    Perhaps this is not true in general, but this is my intuition in the area where I live.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m not sure where you live, but at least in most parts of the U.S., this isn’t the case. There’s a bit of this going on, absolutely, but it’s not the majority.

    2. Jamie*

      So, to inflate their importance they post some position with no interest in hiring, call in a few potential candidates, and never hire anyone.

      Are you saying you think companies post positions and actually screen candidates when they have no intention at all of hiring? I can’t imagine even a dysfunctional company having the time for that. There is no benefit and hiring is a time and resource consuming process.

      I understand that employment agencies are guilty of shenanigans with posting non-existent jobs – but for the life of me I can’t imagine why a company would.

      1. twentymilehike*

        I understand that employment agencies are guilty of shenanigans with posting non-existent jobs – but for the life of me I can’t imagine why a company would.

        I was thinking this also. And what also came to mind reading this thread (and maybe what Deu is also seeing, is when you find a listing on a job board, then go to the company website, and the job is no longer listed. Sometimes there will be a notice that the listing “has been removed” or “has been filled,” but it is SUCH A BUMMER to spend time searcing on a board for a job and then find out that it’s not even available anymore. This happens with at least half of the listings I find that I want to apply for.

        1. Jamie*

          That is because the ads run for a certain number of days. I don’t know if you can pull them ahead of time – but when you place an ad you pay for 30 days and if you have ads out a ton of places a lot of people don’t pull them and just let them run out.

        2. Victoria*

          I currently work for a staffing agency and we don’t post jobs that we aren’t actually recruiting for. Just an FYI that not all agencies do that :)

          I do sometimes feel like a bait-and-switch has been pulled as a job searcher when I get an email from a job listing site and click on a link, only to find that the “new!” position is no longer there.

    3. AHK!*

      Are you referring to temp agencies? They often do that to build up a pool of ready applicants, but businesses that post and pay for ads directly don’t tend to use that tactic.

    4. the gold digger*

      Well, I am going to use my one data point and extrapolate it to a universal, but I just got my job via a job posting on a job board. Actually, every interview I got (four companies) came via job board listings. (Is that four data points?)

      So at least some of the posts are valid.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I think you’re seeing temp agencies and recruiter ads. I’ve seen one ad recently that is reproduced WORD FOR WORD on Indeed.com, Simplyhired, craigslist, and I even saw it on my state’s job board. I think it’s a recruiter ad, but it appears under different names: Aerotek, Nesco, PDS Tech, etc.

      It is annoying; lately it seems like that is ALL there is.

      1. Lore*

        I think, also, that there are a lot of websites and email lists that basically aggregate postings from other boards or company sites (thinking of just the ones I get emails from, places like CyberCoders or Creative Jobs Central or SimplyHired), and that don’t do the follow-up work to take down listings that are no longer valid. I’ve definitely seen many postings advertised as “new today” that when you click on the link, the actual source is months old, deactivated, or explicitly says “position no longer available.” (And I’ve also seen ones where I interviewed for the position and/or know the person who was hired!) It’s possible that some of them are intentional re-postings, of course, but not all of them.

      2. Anonymous*

        I think some companies will offer one position through different staffing agencies. Whoever gets the best candidate wins, apparently. It’s a really crappy way to recruit, but seems to be not that uncommon.

        I’ve been contacted before by various recruiters for a position which I discovered was the same job because the description was identical. Actually, with one position this happened with 12 different recruiters. That’s not an exaggeration! Turns out I had interviewed for it (one of the first ones to) and didn’t get it. For a month or so afterward I got inquires from recruiters about the same position. Annoying.

        I don’t think the company realized that the pool for people with experience in the particular software they were looking for was smaller than they thought. My name kept coming up in the Careerbuilder searches. :)

    6. Laura2*

      This seems like it would just be a huge waste of time for everyone involved. I think most hiring managers would have a fit if they thought they were interviewing people for a non-existent position.

    7. Anonymous*

      While I know this is not standard…. there ARE companies that do this!!

      At my husband’s old job they were in a hiring freeze for a YEAR, but would regularly go to the career fairs on campus ( I was in college still) and they would post jobs and interview on campus! They never hired anyone for these “jobs”— when my husband asked why they were recruiting for non-existent openings, they said they wanted to keep a good pool of candidates and to keep people interested in working there once they started hiring again.

      Similarly, I recently interviewed for a job where one of my duties would be to post for job openings and interview candidates when jobs weren’t actually open. They wanted me to do this because they wanted to have a pool of good candidates if someone resigned, etc.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        To be fair, people like Nick Corcodilos argue that this is the *only* way a company should be doing hiring… that a recruiter’s job is to be constantly seeking out the best and brightest, so that they never even have to post an opening; when something comes up, they have great candidates all lined up.

        Though, I also don’t think that this is what Deu is talking about. I think she’s saying that job *boards* make up jobs or re-post unavailable jobs to gin up interest and keep ad buys up. Which would be difficult to do if your postings were not anonymous. I think it is true that some companies will put up ads for jobs that don’t exist, but that’s just what I was talking about above: proactive recruiting.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Deu, I have applied for a few jobs and I have been told “We run the ad all the time, but we are not actually doing any hiring on that right now.”

      I just cross the company off my list entirely.

  10. Mike*

    Hey, everyone. This is the OP. Thanks Allison for answering my question, and I’m really grateful for the feedback people are providing.

    A part of me felt that contacting the hiring manager was a misstep, like the IT Manager mentioned in his comment. And as as Bridgette and a couple of others had mentioned, a Linkedin message may have weirded him out.

    What confuses me, though, is that there are plenty of articles out there that encourage trying to connect in this way. Given the advent of social media and how “easy” it’s supposed to be to connect with potential employers, it’s argued that applicants should be more aggressive (even if your not in sales, which is when employers expect you to be pushy) and, yes, even try to meet up with a hiring manager informally for a cup of joe. Job seeking for a new generation I suppose.

    Linkedin, they say, is for social connections with professionals, even ones you don’t know, and you should take advantage of the service to contact hiring managers personally. Again, that’s what I was gathering about this “new” way of connecting with hiring managers that’s different from the days of old when you just submitted your application in person, waited for phonecall, and moved on.

    I thought I’d give it a try, but after reading the great, persuasive answers above, I’m pretty sure I won’t.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You’re absolutely right that that advice is out there. The problem is that it’s being pushed by people who don’t do much hiring themselves and thus have little idea what they’re talking about. (How they’ve ended up advising people on job searching is an enormous mystery, but they do.)

      Whenever you’re evaluating job search advice, ask yourself whether the person giving it has first-hand experience doing a significant amount of hiring. (And how recent that experience is too.) An awful lot of the time, they don’t. And then on top of that, do a gut check — are they recommending things that make you uncomfortable or sound overly aggressive? Then they’re probably in a camp you want to ignore.

      All that aside, it’s also true that social media has opened up new networking tactics that didn’t used to exist. But these are useful for networking, not for applying for jobs.

      1. Jamie*

        (How they’ve ended up advising people on job searching is an enormous mystery, but they do.)

        This is a great illustration of why I am a total wet blanket whenever “become a consultant” is suggested for people who are having a hard time finding a job due to lack of experience. The online advice givers are just another form of consultant – albeit in the public arena – and if you don’t have the practical real life experience to offer people then solutions are all just hit or miss theory.

        Alison has probably hired more people than I will work with in my lifetime – so advice from here is rooted in reality. I don’t hire all that much at this point, but I work closely with those who do and I can tell you that the advice given here is what I see in practice.

      2. Jennifer*

        Yep. We all need to remember that while the internet is a great tool and can provide access to a wealth of information, it can also provide access to a wealth of BS. Anyone can post anything on the internet and call it expert advice. There is also quite a bit of incentive to post advice that is what the reader wants to hear moreso than actual good advice, because it will attract more people to a site and therefore be more profitable (in the short-term) for the advice-giver.

        1. Laura2*

          I think there’s also an element of job seekers wanting to feel like they have more control over the hiring process than they really do.

          1. Bridgette*

            Absolutely. Especially with all the energy and time you put into job searching, it feels like you are just at the whim of the universe.

      3. Bridgette*

        How can you evaluate if someone has that significant first-hand experience? Are there signs to look for in their advice? I’m sure there are lots of blogs out there where the person has impressive credentials, which could give the impression of hiring experience, but reading through their actual advice would provide more clues. I’m thinking about such things as “call every day,” “send a framed photo,” “show up unexpectedly.” Are there any other signs to watch out for?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The best way is to look at their bio, but that’s not always conclusive, as you point out. The bad advice itself can be a signal, but of course that won’t help people who don’t yet know what’s good vs bad advice! As a general rule, though, yeah, if someone is suggesting showing up in person, using a resume objective, or doing anything that would be inappropriately pushy in a different context, assume they’re making it up as they go along.

    2. Bridgette*

      Thanks for the explanation, Mike! Let us know how it goes with this job. We are always rooting for people to get a job they would love. :)

    3. Yup*

      Here’s how I’ve used LinkedIn as a job seeker. I’ve used it to identify the name of the hiring manager (and scope out their professional background). I’ve used it see who in my extended network has connections to a company so I can ask to pick their brain about the office culture etc. And I’ve “followed” a few companies (so I get their updates) and joined a few groups that several company employees belonged to, so I could get a sense of the common industry topics. So in my mind, LinkedIn is more a research tool than a way to connect with hiring managers individually. Hope this helps. :)

  11. Not So NewReader*

    A question for anyone:
    I basically ignore things like Facebook and LinkedIn because I thought they required way to much time.
    You guys got me convinced that I might rethink that about LinkedIn.

    Is there anything else I should know or any tips? I started a LinkedIn account a while ago and I kind of stalled out on it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great. Thanks. I even printed it out to be sure I have it handy.

        Sadly, I might have done what OP did, if I had not been reading this blog.
        If you don’t pay attention to this stuff and then jump into, it’s so very easy to make missteps.

        I am confused by one thing, though. Under the subheading “Referrals” an example is given of having a friend/neighbor/etc who knows a hiring manager to introduce the job hunter to the hiring manager.
        Why is this okay and not stalker-ish?
        And wouldn’t it be annoying to the HM to hear “Hi, nice to met you. I applied for a job opening you have…” It seems that some hiring managers on this blog have protested this type of thing. Or am I missing something?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s just the same utilizing of connections that people have done all along (“Sam, my neighbor would be great for your open position; let me introduce you”) — in this case the difference is just facilitated by technology.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Ahhh, I get it.
            It gives the HM the opportunity to say to his friend “No, I do not want to meet your nieghbor.” No pressure, lots of space cushioning.

    1. Dana*

      This could also make for an interesting open forum – I’d love to know how people (like ‘Yup’ above) are using different types of social media for networking and job searching effectively, in a non-pushy way.

  12. Hugo*

    I think that following up with the Hiring Manager ONCE is permissible / forgivable…having been an HM in the past, I would get more resumes in my inbox that I could count, and honestly could have missed some of them.

    On the other hand, I believe many applicants assume that all companies have some knowledgeable person reading resumes and weeding out candidates around the clock…that is not the case…it’s something I would do during the 13th hour of the day, so just be patient.

  13. A somewhat new reader*

    This may seem like a basic question, but is it still annoying to follow up only once if you never receive a confirmation that your application was received? I often submit email applications and never get a confirmation. I don’t want to annoy people and I am not a pushy applicant, however, sometimes I wonder if the HM is not responding to anyone or if my email wasn’t received. The black hole is a frustrating place to be in.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It feels like most of my apps go into a black hole, too. I have never keep an actual count. I know the number is high.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d still stick with just one follow-up. It’s unlikely that both your application AND your follow-up were lost in some technological black hole; it’s more likely that the employer just isn’t responding, since many don’t respond to queries from applicants unless they’ve selected you for an interview.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        For myself (not judging other people’s abilities), I have come to the conclusion that I pick badly. I am not getting the idea of which ads are viable and which are stale.

        My friend actually kept track over a short period of time of how many apps she tossed out there- forty. Forty apps. Less than a handful of responses. If I counted, I would only be feeding my own discouragement.

        To everyone on this form who does hiring- you have no clue how helpful your comments are. Even if you are talking about an annoying thing and I can “hear” the “growl” in your writing- your comments are still very helpful because it makes sense of the seemingly chaotic hiring process.

      2. Cecil Kim*

        Hi Alison,

        I know this post/question comes to you a couple years after this article, but I am hoping to receive an answer soon. Say if a person did all the follow-up and received many interviews and are in the middle of the hiring process. The person decides to ask a LinkedIn connections who work for the potential company what their interviews were like. Then, that LinkedIn connections decides no longer do be in their connections. The person had little interaction with that particular LinkedIn connections minus working on some projects a year ago. And to make things worse, the person’s company decided not to use the LinkedIn connection’s company anymore. Could this ruin the chance for the person to receive the job? Either way, the person told me that he will not do that anymore. Thank you very much for your help!

  14. Bob King*

    You wrote: “employers aren’t looking for candidates who stand out by being persistent (except in the sales field)”. I disagree.

    While persistence, never taking no for an answer, etc. is indeed a trait that is sought for any selling position, it is also sought by many others, and its close cousin diligence is certainly coveted in any number of professions.

    If you are a job seeker, you should practice the three P’s … always be politely and professionally persistent. By being polite and professional, you avoid being annoying while being persistent.

    Of course, calling someone repeatedly who is always avoiding your calls has a short freshness date. I recommend if one communication method is not working, that you shift to another. Example: first an email, then a phone call a week later, then a handwritten note another week later. People in the business of hiring are busy — they aren’t always sitting there breathlessly waiting for your first email, and by the time they get to their desk, you might already be off their first page and thus easily lost.

    The best advice is to approach employers like a salesman approaches a qualified lead: it’s not what the salesman gets out of it that matters. My guess is that there are two reasons they aren’t returning your calls: 1) they are unconvinced that you add value to their enterprise, probably because you have made the application process be about you and your needs, rather than about the employer’s needs and how you can address them; or 2) they are themselves unprofessional and/or impolite and don’t believe in getting back to people, even after they have made a decision not to pursue something with you.

    If it’s the former, then your approach needs to shift towards how you can help them, rather than the selfish approach of why you need a job, and try a different mode of communication each week. After 3 or 4 tries, move to the next opportunity.

    If it’s the latter, and you have been both polite and professional, and still get no response, then to hell with them. They don’t deserve you, and your focus should be on finding someone who does.

    Frankly I think Ask A Manager is answering from the point of view of making his/her job easier, and not how the would-be employee can gain a leg up on the situation.

    Best of luck, job seekers. Keep the faith.

  15. Jay*

    I had a friend once who landed a job in construction simply because he showed up every day at 6 AM when they started to work. He found out what hours they worked and waited until someone was a no call no show and since he was there it was that much easier for them. Another friend was a little more elaborate. He wanted to work as an engineer and had been rejected multiple times for the same company. So what he did was he called the place and got the hiring managers email addresses and their phone numbers. He then paid some friends and friends of friends via cash/beer/or food to call and email the place daily recommending him for the position. It worked and when I questioned him about it he said that you had to stack the deck in your favor.

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