how to handle an overly persistent job applicant

A reader writes:

I’m an HR manager at a small hotel of about 200 employees. I have a job applicant who calls and leaves me messages every single day. He is applying for one of the positions I posted and he appeared qualified. I was able to quickly review his application form prior to his messages and I actually placed it in the “call” pile. However, after listening to the messages he left me, I had second thoughts. His messages were incredibly aggressive and pushy; as a result, I’m no longer planning to interview him.

One day, I made the mistake of picking up the phone and it was him on the other line. He asked me why I wouldn’t give him a chance. He asked me what process we have in place when selecting qualified candidates and kept insisting on an interview. I didn’t want to turn him down on the spot because I didn’t feel prepared for the debate I was sure would result.

How can I deal with this applicant in a gracious way?

You can read my answer to this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago.

{ 120 comments… read them below }

  1. The Toxic Avenger*

    Oh, man. People like this blow my wheels.
    I am a fan of Dan Savage, and he has a saying that kills me – DTMFA. That applies here, big time.

      1. SanguineAspect*

        This quote brought to you by: The Department of Redundancy Department and the lack of an edit button.

  2. DrPepper Addict*

    I have been given the advice before to call and “check on” my resume and “ask for an interview.” This came from someone who entered the workforce long ago and was very old school in their business approach and beliefs. They truly thought it was good advice and showed “initiative.” So, this guy may have just been given bad advice by someone similar who doesn’t understand how the business world works now.

    1. fposte*

      Certainly could be, but being that demanding, regardless of why, gets you to the no pile.

    2. Fawn*

      You know, this is one of the only points where what I read on AAM and what I’ve seen in my world hasn’t jived. I have several well-educated, recent grad friends who still regularly follow-up on applications and are convinced that this is how they get interviews. I also have a friend who works in the public service who swears that you need to be persistent to get hired. I still never do it, but I’m no longer convinced that it’s totally left field.

      1. Artemesia*

        There is a wide chasm between ‘follow up’ and calls every day and aggressively demands. The first would not have elicited the note to Alison; the second is a clear DTMFA situation. Who wants to work with a guy like this?

        1. Fawn*

          Oh, for sure! I guess I was ruminating on where the line is (but I do realise that the subject of the OP crossed it miles ago).

        2. Sans*

          Exactly. I think one polite follow up is okay. But not aggressive, entitled, repeated calls.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        ” I have several well-educated, recent grad friends who still regularly follow-up on applications and are convinced that this is how they get interviews. ”

        It doesn’t sound like they are getting jobs though.

        Just remember, if someone is convinced the sky is purple with pink dots does not mean that is true.

      3. Erin*

        There’s a wide area between “total lack of follow-up” and being an annoyance. People should absolutely follow up with a thank-you email and let hiring managers know that they’re available for follow-up questions, and then should check back over the next few weeks (conventional wisdom steers people wrong on that, even, I think. I’ve been told to follow up once a week or once every few days, but if I had a candidate calling me every few days, I’d get so annoyed). But I feel like candidates who pester display an attitude that THEIR issue is the ONLY issue that the company should care about. I don’t want to work with someone like that.

    3. The Strand*

      Might work in a few fields, like entertainment, but not if you’re going to aggressively ask why you weren’t picked for a position, rather than a situation where you’re trying to get representation by an agent or sell a story. In those situations, being rejected once doesn’t mean you can’t ever speak to those people again or follow up with them, unless they specifically tell you so (I’ve only ever heard of that happening once or twice). You still have to watch yourself, though.

      I never did it myself — I would rather move on and play the numbers game — but one of my professors told me I should never take “no” for a first answer.

    4. Patti*

      You are missing the entire point of what this wise man was telling you. Pay attention.

      There is nothing wrong with following up after an interview. That’s what the wise man means. It is entirely a different matter when someone is so persistent in the followup that it becomes disturbing and obsessive. That was the point of the original question.

  3. HR Shenanigans*

    Ugh! I’ve been dealing with this except we’ve told the person we’re not interested. He applied to be the assistant to a position we were advertising. We are not looking to hire an assistant for this position and his qualifications do not match for either the position or to be an assistant to the position. We emailed him back the day after his application with text similar to what Alison suggested. A day later, he applied again. We responded same day with similar text and noted we’d previously notified him. He’s since applied 5 more times. At this point we’ve stopped rejecting him and just file away his application. Luckily no phone calls yet…

    1. Observant Oscar*

      Well sounds like you really have someone with some “gumption” there, with all that it may imply good or bad! Have you ever met this person at all? does he fall into any protected class? if so then there is the possibility he could file an EEOC complaint. Although, because you have documented the fact that he is NOT qualified, it still could be time consuming, and intimidating for your organization to deal with EEOC.

      Therefore it may not be a good idea to just delete his resume’, as such activity may cause issues later.

  4. louise*

    I’m in this boat often and have set my voicemail to say something like “we receive a large number of applications and unfortunately are unable to return calls to applicants. We will call those who we’d like to schedule for an interview.”

    My problem is that we have multiple openings for the same position, and due to turnover combined with growth, ALWAYS have something open. I can’t say “we’ve filled the position” because there’s always an ad for it. I can’t say “we are interviewing more qualified candidates” because they are often quite qualified, they’ve just put themselves out of the running for another reason than qualifications. And then finally, sometimes they aren’t a great applicant, but they aren’t an automatic no, so I want to kind of hold on to them in case we need them later–don’t want to reject them outright if we may contact them in 2-3 weeks.

    1. Mike C.*

      One minor point, but if a candidate has put themselves out of the running, then they are less qualified than those who are still in the running.

      It seems like you’re hiring just as you need the position, but I wonder if things might be easier for you if you were to advertise your jobs in batches – say gather up all the new open position for the month/quarter, put out all the ads at once and so on. Then you can say “we are no longer taking applicants” or “the position has been filled” and so on. It also makes training a lot easier when you have a batch of new folks come in at once.

      Those who fill your “don’t wish to reject outright” could be told something to the effect of “Not now, but please check back in a month or two at new openings”.

      1. ECH*

        There was a Help Wanted classified in our newspaper that said “Previous applicants need not apply.” Brilliant.

    2. M-C*

      But louise, in fact you don’t want to hire a pushy jerk, at all, no matter how qualified they may be. What if they started harassing other employees that way once they were in? What if they were threatening to shoot you after you had to fire them for harassing coworkers? So develop a blacklist and be sure those get on it, and just say no plainly and firmly “we are not interested in your application”. Don’t quibble about qualifications or open positions or anything.

    3. Adonday Veeah*

      How about something like “We’re pursuing other candidates at this time. We’ll keep your resume on file, and if there is interest in the future we’ll be in touch.”

      That way you don’t have to say anything that they can pick apart.

  5. Stephanie*

    Oh Getty Images.

    So is there any advantage in telling him he was too pushy and that knocked him out the running? Or would that just invite an argument? I can understand how the desperate job seeker mindset in concert with all the Sell Yourself! Be Noticed! advice out there could lead to someone earnestly thinking this is a good idea.

    1. NJ Anon*

      I would absolutely do this. We do it with vendors who are vying for our business. “Your aggressiveness has a direct correlation to whether we would use your services or not.” Same for a job candidate. I would have no problem telling them that their aggressiveness put them in the “nay” pile!

      1. Kate*

        I have actually once told a grad program this – they called me two days in a row so I sent them a polite email basically explaining that if they call me every day I am definitely not going to apply. They stopped calling! This was a fairly new program, so I assume they were putting lots of emphasis on recruitment.

    2. Artemesia*

      I am probably needlessly paranoid but having dealt with deranged students on many occasions and the occasional very odd job applicant, I feel that feedback is like giving the finger to the guy who cuts you off on the highway. The kind of person who is so clueless may also be someone you don’t want to tangle with in any way. Until you have someone stalking you and calling your house at 2 am and voicing paranoid fantasies about you you don’t realize how much havoc a vengeful person can create. It is one thing if you can advise someone about their resume or whatever — but advising someone so off the rails that he is too pushy — I would be nervous about that.

      1. OhNo*

        Exactly. This person has already demonstrated a rather extensive lack of professional etiquette, so I would hardly expect them to suddenly shape up just because you’re giving them advice. More likely, given their behavior so far, that they would take it badly and react in an unfortunate way.

  6. BRR*

    It doesn’t sound like the OP would consider the candidate for any position and I’m wondering if they should make that clear as well? Safe everybody some time.

  7. fposte*

    I once had a candidate drop by spontaneously to talk to me about the job (he’d already submitted an application, which I’d acknowledged, and I’d identified a timeline, which we weren’t behind on. I was so startled that I didn’t handle it well–I basically said that I’m not available to do that. I should have pointed him to email for me or a colleague if he had actual questions about the position, but I blew that part; however, I’m pretty sure it was something he’d been told he should do somewhere to show interest, rather than something borne of his having actual questions.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      Yeah, people STILL recommend that job seekers stop by in person. It doesn’t really excuse it, because it goes against common sense, but it makes me so mad that people suggest it, on both the job seeker’s and the employer’s behalf. (And this is sort of a tangent, but I hate the idea that “If you just show some more initiative and a go-getter attitude you’ll get a job!” As if following business norms means you don’t try hard enough or something….)

      1. fposte*

        I felt particularly bad because he really wasn’t pushy–very soft-spoken, kind of shy, immediately accepting that I couldn’t talk to him. So this was probably really hard for him to do in the first place, and it was totally unnecessary (he wasn’t in the running at that point anyway, so it didn’t make any difference to his candidacy).

      2. Oryx*

        In some industries it works, though. We had an old co-worker who when our supervisor introduced her to everyone in a meeting said she showed great initiative by dropping her resume off in person.

        But that’s more the exception than the rule. The problem is that I know it’s the exception and you know it’s the exception and everyone on AAM knows it’s the exception — but job seekers out in the big wide world don’t and so they continue to do that because they heard so-and-so’s cousin’s brother’s aunt got a job that way so it MUST work.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Wow really? There’s very few businesses in my area where someone could actually just walk in – most require a badge

        1. INTP*

          At a previous job a guy came in and asked the receptionist to ring the HR person for him. For some reason she did, I took his resume and promised to read it over and got him out the door. He wasn’t even qualified for any position we regularly hired for – his resume was targeted at marketing and this was a small software firm (a few of us non-technical people did some marketing and the rest was outsourced to an agency). Clearly he was just going in large buildings and dropping off resumes in every office that would have him.

    2. That Lady*

      I did this once. I still cringe so hard when I think about it. The guy reacted angrily, and at the time I thought he was a jerk. But now I realize that I was that crazy job applicant who didn’t understand the boundaries. Cringe, cringe, cringe!

    3. Anon Accountant*

      People still recommend applicants stop by in person to show initiative and “stand out”. We had an applicant drop with his resume and he leaned his whole body against the reception counter and announced he wanted to talk to one of the partners to drop off his resume. One of the female partners graciously came out to talk to him and he told her he’d prefer to talk to Bob, our managing partner. He didn’t talk to Bob nor did he get interviewed. He kept calling to follow up and she told him he wasn’t being considered for a position so he started calling for Bob because he was a “great candidate”. He didn’t meet most of the qualifications for the job.

      This guy was about 25ish and a recent graduate by the way.

      1. mweis77*

        I really wish he was told he would never get a job b/c he clearly was a sexist jerk. The female partner must have been pissed.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          She was pissed. She’s our “chief decision maker” on many things too. I wish they would’ve told him that he wouldn’t be considered for a job there because of his attitude. It’d have been a favor to him and his job searches.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh. Once the internet became a thing, I NEVER applied in person unless the job posting said to do it that way. Sooo much better to stay home in my PJs and craft a brilliant cover letter and do it online.

        1. fposte*

          I know! It’s really stressful to haul yourself in and see a possible employer face to face, and you so don’t need to try to do it. I really feel sorry for the non-jackasses who try.

    4. BananaPants*

      This reminds me of that video from The Onion on how 95% of grandfathers got their job by walking up and asking for it.

    5. Miranda*

      I hate that. HATE it. I work in a building which is usually full of vulnerable people, so we have complex entry and exit procedures, and showing up on the doorstep expecting someone to cater to you demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything about working in that environment.

  8. Michele*

    I went through that last year with someone. She interviewed for a position, but it became clear that she had greatly exagerated her qualifications (plus I got a vibe that she would be a PITA to work with). I sent a polite, boilerplate rejection email thanking her for her time and letting her know that we would not be hiring her.

    She responded with an email arguing why she should be hired. Then she started calling and leaving messages. She kept emailing. She tried to connect on LinkedIn. When I didn’t accept the connection, she emailed to see if I had gotten the connection request. Eventually she stopped calling. I don’t know if she stopped emailing or not because I have blocked her address.

    1. John*

      Wow. That’s off the chain. Why in the world would she think you’d want to be connected?

      1. Not Today Satan*

        Hah, I thought that was the least weird/inappropriate thing she did! I don’t think I could do it, but I could see adding an interviewer if you didn’t get the job but thought the interview went really well and want to maintain that connection.

        1. Michele*

          I try to be very nice and friendly during interviews because I want people to let their guard down and be their true selves. So I can see how some people would get the impression than an interview had gone better than it did. No matter how well it goes, though, you don’t stalk someone after they reject you.

        2. John*

          I just wouldn’t do it after going after them accusing them of making the wrong decision.

      2. Michele*

        I have had many people that I interview try to connect with me on LinkedIn. I have just never had anyone be that pushy about it.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      This kind of behavior is why hiring managers don’t like to give feedback about why people didn’t get the job. We don’t want some candidates to perceive that there’s room for negotiation. If I get the vibe that someone is truly receptive to feedback, I might, but otherwise I just don’t.

      1. Not Today Satan*

        :( I often ask for feedback (because I genuinely want to find ways I can improve my search) and I don’t think anyone has given it (often they don’t even reply to the email, which I find annoying/disrespectful given the time and effort I’ve dedicated to the process). I would never reply to the feedback arguing against it or anything.

        1. Jaune Desprez*

          I’ve been on the other side of this, and it was really quite difficult. I had to review more than 5,000 applications for a set of 18 open positions, and this was a task that had been assigned to me on top of my full-time duties after another staff member’s position had been cut. I did manage to send a nicely worded rejection email to all the applicants who weren’t invited to interview, but I was working 12-hour days and simply didn’t have time to give individual feedback.

    3. Lizzy*

      I have always wondered: how do people get like this? I was out of work for awhile and I know how that frustration feels, but the thought of doing any of the above just makes me cringe. I know some blame the recession and so-called career coaches selling aggressive job-seeking tactics as an end all, be all, but it feels like there is never a dearth of these personality types, good times or bad.

      1. Michele*

        I think some people take advice to be persistent or to follow up and go way overboard. Part of it may be due to the fact that she came from a very priviledged background and had never worked before, despite being in her late 20s. I don’t think she understood that she can be told “no”. She also didn’t have the real world experience to tell her that she was way out of line.

      2. Anx*

        I think that when you try to trust your gut and it doesn’t work for a few months or years, there’s a natural tendency to try new techniques.

      3. Stone Satellite*

        I think it’s a personality thing, really. I suspect the guy who follows up on a job application by leaving 300 voicemails is also the guy who goes every day to get a coffee so he can ask out that cute barista even though she’s turned him down every day for the last two months. Sure, he probably read somewhere that he should be aggressive about showing interest in a job, and he probably read somewhere that women like men who are persistent, but I don’t think someone becomes that kind of boundary crosser just from reading some bad advice. I think it’s much more likely that he already was a boundary crosser and uses excuses like that as a cover for unacceptable behavior.

  9. Katie the Fed*

    I’ve been getting this with college students/recent grads who reach out to me for advice on getting into my field. I keep in touch with a number of my old professors and colleagues and they’ll pass my name along.

    Sometimes, though, I can’t get to it right away or give their questions the level of attention they deserve. Sometimes I’m on vacation or getting married or just really busy with life. I’ll usually respond right away and tell them I’m slammed at the moment but will get back to them within the next couple of weeks. But some of them get really persistent, and it’s really annoying.

    And then there are the ones that I do follow up with and they never even bother to thank me. Grrrrrrr.

    1. John*

      Katie, very few students I’ve tried to help have attempted to thank me (or otherwise acknowledge my response). It’s astounding. The voice in my head is saying — fairly or not — you don’t deserve a good job.

      Shouldn’t these folks know to at least pretend as though they care about the person at the other end of the email? When a person like you responds that you’re slammed it’s an opportunity to show empathy (“Totally understood. Good luck with your wedding! Will try to connect down the road.”), thereby building a connection so they”ll be likely to help once you have time.

    2. Michele*

      I have had something similar happen. Apparently I am in the mood to rant today, so here goes. I keep in touch with my graduate advisor and have several friends who are professors. If my department has a job opening that is applicable to their field, I always let them know so they can pass the information along to their students. Recently a student that I had never met contacted me. Instead of an email introducing himself, he went on this mind dump of questions and concerns about his future. He wanted advice about relocating his partner and finding a job for him and trying to finish school while working and what was our policy about paying for higher education, and….
      The email basically screamed, “fix my life!” The bad thing is that I had his resume on my desk in the “maybe I will schedule a phone interview” pile. After that email, I moved it to the “no” pile.

        1. Michele*

          Yeah, it was bad for him, but it saved me a lot of trouble. I never did respond. Crazy should not be engaged in a dialog.

  10. DrPepper Addict*

    Another thought. It may be advantageous on the job ads to put “No calls please.” I’ve seen that on many job postings and I wonder if it would deter such behavior?

    1. Been There, Done That*

      Hah. We recently had an opening at my company and although the description stated “No calls please” someone called me. The entire conversation was cringe-worthy — the ‘candidate’ apologized for cold calling (okay, so why do it?) and then proceeded to ramble on and on and on about their previous job (which I think they left for a medical issue — I wasn’t really paying attention by that point) and whether they would be considered overqualified and even though they understood we couldn’t discuss salary over the phone, did I have any insights and should they email me their resume for me to look at so that I could respond and tell them whether they should consider applying.

      I asked them whether they had read the job description (to which they replied yes, which means they ignored the “no calls” request), suggested they research market salaries for the position online, and said that due to the number of applicants, we were only responding to candidates who matched our requirements. (Although I do send a generic “thank you for your application” email to everyone who applies.)

      At the end of the call, candidate asked if they should email their application to [email @] or me directly and I said, it’s best to follow the instructions on the description.

      I was really annoyed. I found this person on LinkedIn and they were not a recent grad; they had been in the professional world long enough that I really expected they should have known better.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You are way nicer than me. I cut those people off after 30 seconds and say that they should submit an application and we’ll be in touch after that, and that I’m running to a meeting so can’t talk further.

        1. Been There, Done That*

          To be honest, it caught me off guard and I’m terrible at making up excuses on the fly. I was expecting a short question but it turned into this whole rambling story.

    2. HR Shenanigans*

      You would think it helps but it really doesn’t. Although it does let you know who doesn’t read the full ad, can’t follow directions and/or thinks some things don’t apply to them

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        And the moral of the story is: During the application and interview process, try to be someone people would want to work with. No one wants to work with a late, rule-flouting, pushy, loudmouthed, aggressive, entitled jerk who thinks the rules don’t apply to them.

    3. Anon Accountant*

      Disclaimers: I’m not a hiring manager but at a prior job our HR department would notate when the applicant called and the ad specifically said “no calls” and apply online. If you didn’t follow instructions on the job you could damage the manufactured product or even wind up causing injury to a coworker. Usually we had good candidates to select from so I don’t know if they didn’t bother interviewing those candidates. The director and plant manager used to say “if they don’t follow directions before they’re hired why would we think they’d follow instructions when on the job”.

        1. Anonsie*

          I swear I’ve seen a number of “No Brown M&Ms” instructions in job listings before that were a lot more unusual, too. Now I’m having a hard time remembering any specifics because it’s been a while, but it’d be little things like putting some random tidbit of information at the top of your cover letter or something, and that instruction would be well-buried in the listing.

          1. Stephanie*

            I’ve seen Indeed do this with its job postings. I interviewed for a job there and the job ad instructions told you to create an Indeed Resume and list the URL in your cover letter header. There were also instructions to answer a specific, related question in your cover letter. I was looking at a QA role and I think it asked me three things I’d look at a job ad QA process. I saw software developer roles where they’d ask candidates to develop some short code to get a specific result (e.g., “Write code in [language] to print ‘Llamas are awesome’ and paste your commented code in your cover letter.”)

          2. manybellsdown*

            Yes, a video game company I know, when hiring in-game moderators, would have buried down in the middle of the job description to put “Green Shoes” or some similar non-sequiter in the subject line of your email. They got hundreds of applicants every time they had an opening (they recruited from the playerbase) and that was a fast way to weed out applicants who didn’t read the whole thing. Even then they’d have dozens of applications that managed to see that requirement, but not the one where you had to be 18 to apply.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          +1 That’s what I was just thinking! There’s probably a few others that could be thrown in there as part of the “doesn’t follow directions” screening. I’ve done some work on RFPs and some industries, if you don’t follow the format they want exactly, you’re toast.

          Probably this is another way that job hunting is like online dating. You can specify you want someone has X, Y, Z but they’ll decide for themselves that you won’t mind they’ve got J, D, Q instead because they are just. that. awesome. Or ignore them entirely because those kind of rules just don’t apply to *you*.

          1. Sunshine*

            Yes! “Obviously, the ‘no calls please’ wasn’t intended for me! Because I’m awesome! I have to call and tell them how awesome I am!”

  11. Cruella DaBoss*

    Gah!!!! This reminds me so much of the candidate that I told to “watch our job line for open positions” but she kept calling me directly instead. Weekly, for a year. Do people not realize how annoying this is?

  12. LBK*

    Interesting that you compare it to dating since it’s arguable that when dating, you don’t actually need to specifically tell someone you’re rejecting them. Miss Manners herself even advocates it because she says it’s more kind than telling someone to their face that there’s something about them as a person that you just don’t like – she calls it the Kafka Romance Dissolve (h/t to fposte). I think direct rejection is more appropriate in the workplace since it’s usually less personal and more likely to be something you could conceivable fix (like a lack of experience).

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I think the comparison is to being asked out.

      If someone asks you out, you should either accept the date, or give a clear “no thank-you”. If you make nebulous excuses – that you’re really busy, say – then some people will figure out that you really mean a definite no, but others will take you at your word. You’re busy now, so ask again in a week.

      Telling someone *why* you don’t want to go out with them (or go on a second date), however, is often a bad idea. It’s either too directly personal (I don’t find you attractive/I think you’re annoying/boring/needy/unpleasant), or it opens it up for them to debate your reasons and convince you that you’re wrong.

  13. POF*

    Here’s a story to make you cringe. The wofe on my husbands best friend does not take NO for an answer ever. She is rather over bearing and direct. As a result her daughter is extremely mild. Her daughter graduated with a degree in white chocalate macadamia teapot design. There is a small local family company who does this type work. She advises daughter to show lots of initiative at company. So …… daughter shows up with resume and no appointment to speak with owner and is nicely told no openings – but will keep resume. Daughter proceeds to call weekly, email constantly, send resume and show up at company over a few months . Finally gets a job there. I was so flabberghast – but Mom is proud of it and says its just like a movie ( Amityville Horror perhaps).

    BTW – the daughter has an overnight business trip where she needs to fly to. Her parents say no and drive her there instead and drive her home.. Whole nother set of dysfunction.

        1. Observant Oscar*

          Oh Yeah, I think I tried to ask her out when we were in college. but we never dated, because I did not want to answer the 50 questions on the “application to date my daughter”

    1. Michele*

      That poor daughter. Now because her mother’s screwed up advise worked, it will only get worse.

    2. Artemesia*

      I know a family that went to LA and found and furnished an apartment for their daughter a new grad and then went and talked to her new boss — before she had even started work there. The daughter stayed home in Washington State to take care of the dogs etc. At least she had the good sense to get that first job 1000 miles away.

  14. Anonymous For This*

    I’m posting anonymously because this was me once! Well, not with calls but emails. It was a job that I was completely qualified for, an exact match to the ad, and I got very over excited. I didn’t call but I did email 2-3 times a week for a good month. Ugh.

    I finally stopped when…oh and this is so embarrassing! The company actually BLOCKED my email address.

    I still see them hiring for that position all the time so maybe the problem wasn’t entirely me and maybe I dodged a bullet but even so. I don’t do that anymore!

      1. Anonymous For This*

        You know, I’m not sure. I think at first I just wanted to make sure they had my info. Then I wanted to give them a bit more info. Then I was just confused as to why they didn’t so much as acknowledge the resume when it really was an exact fit on paper. Also, I think I’d probably been reading a lot of “get that sale!” type books and was trying to impress them with my persistence, LOL.

        Even a single response from them with some kind of message about what they were doing on their end would have stopped me.

  15. LuvzALaugh*

    I did this as well, only not to this extent or level…….I got the job. The details are that I had seen the job online and applied. It was a few weeks gone by and I saw the ad in the paper. The ad stated to apply online or in person at x. I had been looking for quite some time and heard the bad advice….follow up, you don’t get hired on the internet you have to go in……bla bla bla. i reasoned it had been two weeks so I probably wasn’t getting an interview…why not try to put a face to a resume. I got dressed as though I would be interviewed althouh I had no intention of asking for one. Went in asked the receptionist for an application, sat down and filled it out. Made polite but not interrupting small talk with ther receptionist while I did so. Just so happens the hiring manager did come out to the reception desk while I was there ( I knoew who it was beciase the receptionist told me when he was walking over)I did not know why he came out so I didn’t asume it was to see me. Just said hello politely while I completed the application. I heard the receptionst tell him what job I was applying for but I did not attempt to step into their conversation. I just told myself, he sees me and he knows why I am here. Handed the recepionist my application and resume and politely wished them both a good day. Next day I received a call for phone interview…then in person interview #1 and #2.

    1. OhNo*

      I think you found one of the very few situations where this kind of behavior is okay. Not only did the ad specifically say that you could go in in person, but you handled it well by remaining professional and not being pushy.

      Sadly, I think most people don’t realize that both of those pieces are a must for this kind of thing to work. They just think, “Well, LuvzALaugh got a job by going in person, so I’ll do that too!”, without taking into account the fact that their ad said “no visits or calls” and they are wearing pajama pants and demanding to speak to somebody in charge.

  16. Jen S. 2.0*

    Agree with Oh No — your situation was different. The ad said in person was acceptable, so you were following directions. You also weren’t pushy.

    The issue isn’t following up, on its merits. The issue is following up to the point of harassment. I think it’s fine to follow up after a few weeks. But calling more than once or twice (tops!), emailing more than once or twice (tops!), and showing up unannounced and uninvited to harangue someone? Unacceptable.

    You didn’t do any of those things.

  17. HRish Dude*

    I am still somewhat shocked and appalled that this actually worked for me a few years ago on my first post-college job. Of course, as we (a large national corporation) were still using paper applications in 2009 when I left, maybe I shouldn’t be as shocked.

  18. HRish Dude*

    At my old job, we had a woman who would come down about once a week into the office, generally smelling of booze, cigarettes and other identifiable smells. Sometimes she was in her bathrobe and occasionally she brought a child with her who she paid no attention to and let run rampant through the office. She came about once a week to submit a new application, check on the last application or to yell at us and tell us we were all reverse racists who hated white people.

    A couple of weeks would go by and she’d come back and start all over again. She would never call – she always came in…usually drunk or high or both. And my boss was under the impression that it was “illegal” to ask her to leave.

    I should point out that he also believed it was illegal to send rejection letters.

    1. potato battery*

      “Help – my employee wants me to send rejection letters! Is this legal????!!!?”

    2. Stone Satellite*

      What, wait? He thought it was illegal to send rejection letters? Maybe he thought it would be a good strategy to avoid being sued for hiring discrimination or something?

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        I agree that’s probably what he was thinking, but that doesn’t really make sense either…after all, even if you didn’t send a rejection letter, you still didn’t hire that person.


  19. Hermoine Granger*

    I attended a few workshops at the NYPL where a recruiter hosted a series about job searching. A lot of people were out of work at the time and the workshops were always full.

    One of his tips was along the lines of clicking the “Submit” button on online applications and waiting for a response was basically for submissive chumps. You should find a way to circumvent the online system and get in touch with the hiring manager directly and followup. In addition, when invited for an interview you should contact the company’s competitors to let them know. As in, “Hello Visa, this is Jane Doe, an experienced xxx and I just wanted to let you know that I have an upcoming interview with Mastercard. I’m an excellent employee and wanted to give you a heads up so you don’t miss out on a shot at interviewing me as well.”

    There are a lot of people out here promoting this idea of being (overly) pushy to get hired. I think a lot of people are following that bad advice and probably adding their own stuff as well.

    1. Lizzy*

      Are you serious about emailing competitors? I think I would laugh if I received an email of that nature.

  20. The Strand*

    One more comment on the mindset of someone like this.

    A dear, dear, very smart friend of mine repeatedly, year after year, applied for a particular graduate program. I was in grad school, and mentioned how things usually work in such programs, as far as who gets brought in. With all respect to any faculty members who might be reading, my experience is that many faculty are looking to develop mini-Mes – they’re looking for students who will work willingly on their projects and research, then accept the torch they pass along. My friend was interested in getting the knowledge but not in becoming a faculty member. He couldn’t understand why none of these people wanted to work with him.

    My friend kept at it because he felt that this program was The Key To Everything, and that everything would just fall into place if he only had the Key.

    Some people just plug this way at everything hoping that somewhere, something will break and they’ll get what they want. But others are persistent because their mindset has told them they can’t make it any other way. They have no idea that their persistence is coming off so badly.

    1. Jennifer*

      Reminds me of my friend who was applying to grad schools (starting with VERY prestigious ones that according to her, she really didn’t have the grades to get into) for most of ten years. She finally got in one though, so….

  21. Emily*

    So ironic this is here as I am dealing with it today. Told a friend of a friend in December we were hiring and she missed the cut-off date for the job posting. So when it came around in March I sent her a basic courtesy “hey we’re hiring for XYZ again if you’re interested” email. She didn’t reply for 3 weeks but then started in with the daily emails telling me how much she wanted this job. Since I have absolutely NO sway over jobs at all, I replied to her first email wishing her luck and telling her to contact the recruiter. I got more emails today with an odd tone of “Why doesn’t so-and-so call me back????? I’ve emailed her and her boss and his boss!!” Next thing I know I am called into a meeting and advised to cut all communication with this person because apparently she emailed literally everyone in 3 departments begging for updates and a “good word” for this job. Suffice it to say she is on the “never ever hire” list now and I feel guilty I ever invited her to apply in the first place!

  22. Stone Satellite*

    Hmm, from my perspective *not* following up on applications has resulted in every job offer I’ve ever had, and I’m currently working for a company with a (well-deserved) spot on the “best places to work” list so it must be a pretty good tactic. Here’s how it works: you follow the instructions to apply for a job. If someone calls you to schedule an interview, you prep for and go to the interview. If you get an offer you like, you take it and stop applying for other jobs. Voila, employment! Maybe I should run one of these “how to get a job” seminars on the side, it sounds like there’s a market niche in need of filling.

  23. Anony*

    Wow, that is a bit extreme!
    But when should an applicant just let it go? I’ve applied for the same position mostly, same state department but different locations and occasionally it’s the same hr assistant screening the apps name is — I always get an interview but now I’m wondering if they are only interviewing because they have to. The last time I applied, I sent a quick email and ask if I could be considered for the new location. I got an email that I need to send in another app because they couldn’t use the last list of interviewees, I thanked him, sent in my app, and the other day I got a call for an interview. I’m confused, if I didn’t make it to round 2 of interviews, did they change something …I kind of want feedback especially if I don’t get an offer….but I def wouldn’t be annoying about it

  24. Linguist curmudgeon*

    Ugh ugh ugh. Can I blame the Boomers who likely told this young person that “gumption” would get them the job? Because jeez.

  25. Fred*

    I have gone through many comments made by HR (s) and am glad they have made me see through their lenses. I’m sensitive to other people’s feelings and for that matter judging by what HRs have talked about, i have scored fairly. My major problem is that i have applied for so many jobs without success, politely asked for advice without replies and requested to work for only work experience without laying any financial barden to the campanies but still no positive responce. Four year degree by 2010 in Computer Science and Technology and now i have started on Diploma in IT networking still chasing for work experience. Can someone please spare his/her time to check my papers and help me identify where i get it wrong. Thank you and thanks for your contribution in this forum.

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