job candidates who call for more information before we’ve invited them to interview

A reader writes:

I work for a company with a very small number of permanent employees (10) that employs a large number of entry-level seasonal workers (~25) at a couple points in the year. The company is so small that we don’t have landlines; we just have company cell phones, and we have no HR department. The phone number that goes on our website, brochures, etc. is my number (since my role involves dealing with the public) so although I do not hire anyone myself, I am the one who job seekers call. I can’t give them the number of the actual hiring manager, who is higher up in the organization and doesn’t want to be bothered with dozens of calls any more than I do.

Of course, a quick “did you receive my application materials?” is fine and easy to handle. But oftentimes, job seekers call asking for more details about compensation, the qualifications needed for the position, job duties, etc. BEFORE they have been contacted for an interview.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be one of those snooty HR people, and I know this would be the first job for a lot of these folks. But I’m not in HR, many of these details are on the website/job posting, and honestly, it’s just annoying. The system is pretty automated – within three weeks, they are either contacted for an interview or sent a rejection – so there isn’t even anything I can do.

Neither my manager nor I know how to handle this, so we’re leaving it to you. How much can we tell people when they call? And is there some way we can gently educate young and eager job seekers about what is and isn’t appropriate?

You can tell them as much as you’d like, but most organizations don’t, simply because it can end up taking a huge amount of time.

It’s perfectly reasonable and a very, very normal practice for you to say to callers, “I’m not the hiring manager for this position. The person who is isn’t taking calls about it at this stage. I know she’d be happy to talk in detail about these questions if we move you forward in our process, but for now we’re hoping the information in the job posting on our website will give you a pretty good sense of the job and what we’re looking for.”

That said, though, I would reexamine your ad to make sure that it truly does have enough information in it. Would a reasonable person looking at the ad walk away with a thorough enough understanding of what the job entails, what qualifications you’re seeking, and other key details? If not, that might be part of the reason you’re getting these calls, and being clearer in the ad would be one fix. It won’t fix all of it though; you’ll always get some of these calls.

For what it’s worth, I’ve always noticed a fascinating correlation: The people who call with questions before applying are almost never people you’re going to end up wanting to interview. Strong candidates just don’t do it. Plus, annoyingly often these callers aren’t truly seeking information; they’re seeking contact with a human so they can pitch themselves for the job or try to make a positive impression, which is not something you’re obligated to accommodate.

It’s reasonable to funnel people through the process you’ve established for each side to learn more about the other.

* An exception to this would be if you were hiring for a very senior or hard-to-fill job — in which case it makes sense to invest more time in cultivating people. But that doesn’t sound like it’s the case here.

{ 142 comments… read them below }

  1. Mint Julips*

    Why not put up a disclaimer on your job page advising that you (the company) is not taking any phone calls and that you (HR) will be in touch with qualified applicants?

      1. OP*

        Hi! We had a disclaimer like that last year, and took it off this year because we do want people to call if the system is down or something like that. We also expanded the job posting to be pretty comprehensive (if I copy and paste it into Word, it’s about two pages, including the background bit on the company.) Honestly, I haven’t noticed a big difference between the number of calls this time last year or this year, so my conclusion is that people who do this will do it regardless of what’s in the instructions.

        Also, my phone number is primarily used for interacting with the public, so adding something in my voicemail about how applicants should not call me would be kind of weird. I appreciate Alison’s script though! I literally have no idea what to say when put on the spot, so I’m going to write down her suggestion and keep it on my desk :)

        1. BRR*

          I agree that people who are going to call are going to do it no matter what. I would briefly think if the questions people are asking are ones that should be answered in the ad and if not throw the call disclaimer in the ad and use Alison’s script for those who call anyways. It’s important to be friendly even though this is annoying since job hunting is a two-way street.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            people who are going to call are going to do it no matter what

            It’s kind of like on-line dating. If your ad says no this/that/the other thing, people are still going to respond because they don’t see themselves as whatever it is, so you can’t mean them at all, can you? People who like to drink, for example, rarely self-identify as an alcoholic and don’t see it as a problem because they only drink beer during the day or they only get blackout drunk on Friday nights or whatever… so they’re not an alcoholic. Alcoholics are people who $DoThingsThatIDon’tDo, so therefore I am not one of them. Mmmkay.

          2. Artemesia*

            They do it because their father told them it shows gumption or they think they can play the refs. All those people who whine about their grades until wimpy professors lower their standards so as to not have to deal with them go on to be annoying job seekers who are too special to follow the process.

        2. Kate M*

          I’m wondering if maybe your job ad is actually too long? If something is two pages single spaced, people might be skimming over important details. Is it formatted well? Are the responsibilities in one section, using bullet points, the requirements in another section using bullet points, and the description of the company at the bottom under a different heading? Everything is paragraph form, not just one big block of text? TBH job postings that are just one big block of text that are confusing and too long I usually skip over and don’t even apply.

          1. OP*

            Hmm, I guess that could be. It’s separated into responsibilities, competencies, and qualifications, and application instructions. There’s a bulleted list of qualifications, so it makes the posting a little longer, but I think it’s pretty easy on the eyes. It is clear that people aren’t looking at the posting carefully though, so maybe we’ll cut it down to its original length next year!

            1. Kate M*

              I mean if it’s formatted well and all the information is relevant, I wouldn’t necessarily cut it down just because some people skim. As long as it’s not one big block of text, you should be fine. And most people are probably calling in an effort to stand out anyway, so shortening the ad probably wouldn’t help with that. But was just something to consider!

            2. Meg Murry*

              If you are concerned about that, could you separate things by adding a “FAQ about being an entry level seasonal employee” page? Keep the job ad on the shorter side, but add all those “things people might want to know but don’t need to be in the main ad”. Or a “FAQ about working at our_company” in general?

              For instance, my old company hired a lot of interns, and the job description and application instructions are pretty to-the-point, but there is a whole separate recruiting page about what it is like to work for Company, what kind of projects interns have done in the past, and a FAQ that answers questions like the start date, no Company does not sponsor non-citizens, typical internship time is 12-weeks, with a minimum of 10 weeks and max of 15, etc. OP could keep a list of questions she gets asked and if some come up over and over suggest they get added to the FAQ page.

              Do applicants get a “thank you for submitting you application” email? If so, could you ask HR to make sure it includes the “we’ll get back to you in less than 3 weeks with an offer of an interview or a rejection, please don’t call” language? Oh, and don’t include your phone number in the email :-)

            3. Artemesia*

              You might see if you can cut a third of the words without reducing the information.

              And have a clear disclaimer about calling for information; you can then quote that ‘as we noted in the ad, we are not taking calls about the position until we have gone forward with interview appointments’ or whatever.

            4. the_scientist*

              A couple of thoughts:

              1) two pages for an entry-level seasonal job is about a page too long. How many qualifications are required for this job? If it’s half a page worth, that’s probably too many, and applicants might be calling because they are confused or do genuinely have questions about what is actually required, and what “requirements” are “nice to have”. Especially if these are people who are new to job searching/the workforce. You need to trim down your ad, substantially, and maybe re-think how you’re hiring. If this is a really specific position with a really specific skill set, I could see a long ad being necessary…but if this is minimum wage, seasonal, entry-level work, it sounds like you’re looking for unicorns when you really need donkeys, to use a crude metaphor.

              2) 3 weeks is a pretty long time to wait for a call-back for seasonal employment, I think. I mean it really depends on the job, but my younger sister is a Uni student on summer break, who was recently looking for work, and she got called back within a day of handing in a resume- this was for seasonal employment at golf courses, restaurants, and bars, and it seemed like they wanted an interview within a week, and for her to start working within a couple of days of the interview. I could see people calling to get more info on timelines, because they’ve already been offered a job that wants them to start ASAP, because they think OP’s job is more interesting, more in line with their education, or might pay more. Nothing OP can do about this, but including a line in an automatic response along the lines of “we’ll be in touch with applicants selected for interviews within 3 weeks” might minimize the calls.

              3) List the hourly wage and expected number of hours per week in the job ad and save yourself a world of trouble.

          2. snuck*

            This is what I was thinking … for an entry level position… are you making it entry level experience to apply?

            Does your ad (not the attached materials) spell it out? Rates, any overtime/allowances, type of work, minimum experience level (put it like that!) …

            And then… put your phone number at the END of the information pack, so they have to read it, and in front of that add in your blurb about “Please note we will not answer questions based on information provided in this pack, and ALL candidates will be contacted through our automated process. If you cannot complete an application through the online system then please contact 12344567898 for further support”

            And really look at the application pack. Can you summarise some dot points and break it down to critical information? Are you using a complicated structure that won’t be familiar with entry level people? Are you using buzz, industry or high level corporate terminology? Is it actually CLEAR what you want (avoid vision and esoteric speech!).

        3. Stranger than fiction*

          You say you get to people you’re interested in in 1-3 weeks? Maybe to these applicants, it seems they’re expecting to hear something immediately to maybe a week. In my world up to three weeks really isn’t that long, but to them it might be and perhaps they’re getting antsy. Also, do they get an auto email confirming you received their resume/app? Maybe you could add some sort of timeframe verbiage there? Although that could give people false hope which is probably why you don’t normally see it.

          1. OP*

            We do have an automatic email from the system that says that their application has been submitted. And adding the timeframe to that auto email is a great idea, thank you!

            1. Meg Murry*

              Add the worst case timeframe to that, not the best. So don’t say “in 1-3 weeks”, instead say “in no more than 3 weeks” or “no later than May 15th” etc.

        4. C*

          @OP “We had a disclaimer like that last year, and took it off this year because we do want people to call if the system is down or something like that. We also expanded the job posting to be pretty comprehensive”.

          Well, if you’re getting a substantial amount of calls like this that are eating up your time (as evidenced by you writing to AAM) you and your should probably consider removing the number. I honestly have rarely ever seen a phone # attached to a job posting, and when it’s there I’m guessing the message it gives people is “call this number”…so yeah, your choice is simple here.

          1. hayling*

            I agree, I’d take it off. If there’s really a problem with the system, someone will take the time to find a phone number or email address.

            Or you could put just an email address on the ad instead — that way you could reply to the emails on your own time, with a “canned response” or something like that.

          2. Gene*

            Just get a Google Voice number for the ads and check its voice mail each day.

            The greeting could be something like, “If the system is not accepting your application, please leave the details and someone will return your call. For all other questions, please refer to the announcement or the FAQ at . Any other questions will remove you from the applicant pool.” OK, leave the last part off. :-)

        5. Alston*

          Could you get a Google Voice number or something just for this? And then you could leave the message for the applicants? And then you could also check the messages at your convenience, instead of having to pick up every time they call.

    1. Shannon*

      Because of Alison’s last two paragraphs. It’ll cut down on it a little, but, it won’t eliminate it.

      1. Elizabeth*

        But at least then you’ll know immediately who can’t follow instructions and whose application can go in the NOPE pile.

    2. AVP*

      The one nice thing about putting that disclaimer in the ad is that you can be almost certain that the people who ignore it are people you won’t want to interview anyway.

  2. Anonymous Educator*

    Can I also add that, in addition to making sure your ad does include enough details, you may want to put in your ad explicitly that candidates should not call to follow up on their applications?

    Of course, that won’t thwart every annoying unsolicited call, but you may get a significant reduction in calls if you just flat-out tell them it’s not okay to do.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “No calls. Anyone who calls will have their application removed from consideration.”

  3. erica b*

    Why not get a google voice number or something that you put on the webpage? You can set it to forward to one or several numbers, or go directly to voicemail.

    1. ADL*

      I like this suggestion. A google voice number would help you weed out some things.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But if people are going to call anyway, which they obviously are, wouldn’t it be helpful to set up a less-annoying way for them to do that?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If she’s getting multiple calls a day, yes. But if it’s more occasional than that, I don’t know that you need a whole system to deal with it. Depends on how annoyed the OP is, I suppose.

    2. Purple Jello*

      I was going to suggest this, but the only problem is that someone will still have to listen to the messages.

      1. another IT manager*

        But with GV, you can get transcripts (of varying quality) that can give you an idea of what they’re calling about.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        But at least you can do it at a convenient time, instead of right when they call.

      3. Erica B*

        and it also has the benefit of not putting your personal cell number on the internet- even if it does forward directly to your phone.
        I also think you can set quiet hours so you won’t get calls at weird hours

  4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Often, listings for posted jobs are NOT explicit enough — “Do you sponsor? (immigration)” “where is the job located?” “is telecommuting possible?” etc.

    You want to post a job listing so it DOESN’T raise more questions. But keep in mind, there are people convinced that a phone call will give them a leg up on others. And oddly, sometimes, I said SOMETIMES, it does.

    1. snuck*

      Yup. So add to the FAQs…

      “There is a lot of demand for these entry level positions. As such we are not expecting to offer flexible working arrangements, immigration support, telecommuting or travel or removal costs for these roles. Please read the job description carefully to understand what is required.”

      And knock that all out with one quick dot point! Because I’ve never heard of a company agreeing to bend over backwards for a short term seasonal casual – they want them to fit in, where they want them, when.

    2. penny*

      The truth is No matter how much info you do or don’t put out there, people are still going to call because, as Alison said, they usually aren’t actually looking for more info but to talk to someone because they think it will get them an interview.

      And even if you say do not call, people still call. Either they didn’t bother reading it or decided to ignore it, neither of which looks good no matter how long the description is.

      And I have found the exact same correlation as Alison that the people who are calling (or dropping in uninvited) are never the people you end up wanting to interview.

      I created a separate voicemail for reception to dump these, & recruiter/sales calls into that says I don’t have time to follow up on status of application requests or other questions-because I don’t, I’m not being mean-so that helps except for the people who somehow find my direct # that I don’t ever post anywhere. Ugh.

  5. Mint Julips*

    I do have to add that it is a little bizarre that job applicants are reaching out for no apparent reason other than needing more information.
    I am a job seeker and never in my wildest, most desperate moment of needing a job have I had the need to call a potential employer – send them an email…maybe if I’m truly unclear about what they are asking for but a phone call seems out of touch.
    Maybe a combination of more detailed job description, the no calls disclaimer and the google number voicemail will relieve the madness.
    Good luck!

    1. LabTech*

      I’ve seen situations where it’d make sense to contact the prospective employer. Just last week, I came across a position in a lab that didn’t give a single word about what specific techniques the candidate would be using, what the research entailed, or even the requirements beyond listing a number of years of relevant experience and relevant education. (Relevant to what?!) The only reason I knew it was (probably) in my field was because of the department the position was in. To top it off, this painfully non-specific posting required a cover letter.

      I also regularly come across less extreme cases – usually several postings of the same laundry list of requirements and techniques without any mention of the actual work being done nor field of research.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Oh you just reminded me of a time years ago, where the job posting on monster was missing the “apply” button and had no other contact info. It was something I was really interested in, so I got a generic email off their website and asked about it. Turns out HR had to call monster and fix it, but meanwhile I got a bunch of rude emails back from the salespeople that apparently monitored that email. Well, guess who got the job and had to work with those people? One out of the three apologized when he met me.

    2. fposte*

      There are some schools of job-hunting that have encouraged this–“it makes you stand out,” that sort of thing. So it doesn’t surprise me that people do it.

      1. Recruit-o-rama*

        Haha, whenever I see people express job seeking advice to help candidates “stand out” I always think to myself, “it sure does make you stand out…just not in the way you intended”

      2. babblemouth*

        Yep, that is textbook Bad Advice I got at university: you must call to stand out – even worse, if you don’t call, you’ll never make it to the first draft list… It’s terrible advice I followed until one day I got a job *despite* following it, and someone at my new job told me to Not Do That.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      People call. It doesn’t matter how clear the ad is. People call because they think it will somehow give them a leg up, but they disguise it as wanting to ask questions. Some people even advise this as a tactic.

      (To be clear, not every caller is doing this, but an awful lot do.)

      In this case, though, it sounds like it’s an entry-level job, so it’s probably people who aren’t super savvy about job search norms.

    4. RVA Cat*

      I’m thinking a lot of these young people are calling because they’re getting bad & outdated advice from their parents, career center, etc. about calling to show “gumption”.

    5. Nethwen*

      We’ve had people call and ask about qualifications and before the first sentence of our answer is out of our mouth, the person will say, “Oh, there it is. I’m scrolling through the job ad right now and hadn’t read it all when I called you.”

    6. Dot Warner*

      The only time I called HR to get more info was when the job posting was *literally* one sentence long. Brevity is the soul of wit, but I need more than one sentence to tell me what you’re looking for…

    7. SevenSixOne*

      Actual reasons I’ve called employers for more information:

      -“The posting headline contradicts something in the text of the posting. Which is correct?”
      -“This posting doesn’t have a specific address, just that it’s in “Greater Name of City area”. Your site lists about 100 locations in/near Name of City. Which location is hiring?”
      -“The posting says an ABC certification is required. I have an XYZ license, which qualifies me to do everything an ABC certification can and more. Your automated application site simply asks a “Do you have an ABC certification?” as a yes/no question, how should I proceed?”

      So, yeah. I’d never just call and ask “Can you tell me more about this position?”, but I’ll definitely call or email if something in the posting isn’t clear or something on the site doesn’t work.

  6. Elizabeth*

    YES YES YES to your final paragraph. I’ve only experienced that once, but the person immediately started acting like it was an interview and I kept telling them that we hadn’t started looking at resumes yet but that if they were qualified I’m sure they’d rise to the top of our list when we were ready to reach out for interviews. Surprise! They didn’t.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      I still blame phone calls on the (severely dated) bad advice out there in internet land that depending on your keywords pop up in the 3rd+ pages of a Google search. Articles encourage this behavior to “stand out”, show assertiveness and drive. Never mind that the articles either have no date or a date in the 1990s, it is just bad advice. Oh, and sometimes it comes from out of touch parents and relatives.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I think it’s like a lot of advice. At one point, it probably was a good idea and it worked. But then loads of people started doing it so it no longer worked, it was just annoying. Until the next thing came along to differentiate yourself — coloured paper? Visual résumés?

        It’s like with a lot of websites today. As soon as you go to their page, you’re faced with a “Sign up to be notified of more awesome stuff now!” thing that pops up in the middle of the page and you can’t do anything until you click to get rid of it. Uh… I haven’t been here a minute and you want my e-mail? No. Just, no. I hate those. Eventually people are going to burn out on that and there will be some new tip/hack/advice to add people to your mailing list that doesn’t involve a pop-up box because they’re so dated/annoying.

        1. ZuKeeper*

          At one point when I worked for a big box copy place, I had someone ask me to copy her resume. First, she didn’t have a digital copy, and some of the pages had printed off kilter. But the big thing was, she wanted every page on a different color of bright paper, tabbed and spiral bound. We did it, but I cringed the entire time. Yes, it will make you stand out, but not in the way you wanted.

    2. Joseph*

      There’s a fairly widespread piece of advice out there that says you should try to personally talk with someone after sending your application in and take that opportunity to pitch them so you “stand out” – including explaining how you’re a fit. Unfortunately of course, the hiring manager is likely to remember that you couldn’t read the clearly listed “salary range” or that you wasted a bunch of his time, so while you’re definitely Standing Out, it’s not quite the way you’d like.

      I’m guessing the advice originates based on the concept of networking – which of course is totally different because it’s based on a pre-existing relationship, not a cold call pitch.

      1. Chickaletta*

        Several years ago during a job search, I would call every place I sent a resume to to ask if they actually got my resume through their online system. There were actually a couple times where it didn’t go through and they would give me an email I could send it to. (This is reason #53 why I despise online application systems… because you can’t trust them to work.) But anyway, that was all I was calling for, I never treated it like an interview or asked questions that I could find out on my own. And at a job search before that (in 2007) I got a job after calling the owner not once, but twice. He said he actually appreciated it (even though he was a space cadet, he was actually pretty great to work for).

        But then reading advice on this site from Alison makes me think that most employers don’t like being called. So I don’t know, I’m on the fence about it because although I understand the argument against it and I empathize with employees who don’t want to deal with unnecessary phone calls, it’s actually worked for me.

  7. Jack the treacle eater*

    Interesting, and I wonder whether it’s the difference between the UK and US perspective.

    Have to say, it seems odd that the hiring manager doesn’t want to be bothered with calls, but is quite happy for the OP to be (or maybe it’s not odd!). It wouldn’t be difficult for the hiring manager’s number to be on the job ad.

    That said, I’m looking at the moment and see a LOT of job ads over here that simply don’t have the information needed to make a good judgement about the job, or to compose anything like a targeted application, so to me the comments about strong candidates not calling, or callers pitching for the job, seem odd to me.

    Then again, maybe I’m getting a different perspective because I’m the one having to decipher job ads rather than field the calls; or perhaps Alison’s job ads are always so well worded that the good candidates get all they need from them! :-)

    If you’re really in a position where the hiring process is difficult to deal with, what about farming it out to a recruiter and letting them have the hassle?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Recruiters are hugely expensive (often 25-30% of the first year of salary for the job they hire for) so it wouldn’t make sense to do that for something that’s pretty easily handled! (Also, lots of employers specifically don’t want to work with recruiters, because it can be hard to find good ones who will do the job as well as you’d do it internally.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh — and I’m guessing no one’s number is specifically on the ad (if it is, OP, remove it!) but that candidates are looking up the company and calling anyway, which is pretty common. OP is getting the calls because she answers their main number.

        1. OP*

          Yeah, my number is not on the ad. It’s just that if you google my company, my phone number is the one that comes up.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            If that is where they are finding the number can you put a note next to it not to call regarding job openings?

        2. Jack the treacle eater*

          Yes, I think I’d read it originally as the OP’s number being put on the ad because theirs was the main contact number, but re-reading it they don’t say that, so point taken – particularly if the ad is on the website.

          My comment about vague job ads isn’t relevant here either, as the OP says in a reply above that the job ad is, if anything, overly detailed, so likely it is the non-readers and those trying to sell themselves that are calling. I don’t know why I thought you’d want extra detail for an entry level seasonal temp job either!

          I guess if the posts are entry level a recruiter would also not be cost-effective.

          I’ll get my coat.

          1. Jack the treacle eater*

            Although having said this, if these are temporary, short term, seasonal jobs, is the thought of using a recruiter – or more accurately, an agency – that invalid?

            Over here we have temp agencies for industrial and office staff – I’m sure you must have them over there. If a company needs a temporary worker, they call the agency, the agency sends someone appropriate in from their books. Agency invoices company weekly for hours worked, company pays agency, agency pays worker, less a commission off the top. The agency has already interviewed when the worker joins the agency, so the (better) agencies should be able to get the right fit.

            Would that not work in this instance?

    2. Elizabeth*

      I’m Canadian, so I imagine it’s at least a hybrid of the US/UK perspective! ;)

  8. Kate M*

    I think this often comes from the bad advice to follow up on applications and try to talk to someone in person for a better chance of your application catching someone’s eye, under the pretense of “needing more information” (as Alison said). I have had so many interns this year actually call to follow up on applications who we hadn’t called for interviews (and we do send rejection emails to everyone, we just weren’t finished with the process yet). And it was always the ones that we didn’t choose to interview that called, i.e. the ones that didn’t make the cut.

    I honestly can’t imagine a scenario I would call to get more information for a job before they contacted me. The way I see job applications, is that you find a job that looks like it might be compatible/good for you/one you’re interested in. I don’t need to know every detail of the job before I apply. Maybe I’ll end up being interested later, maybe not. It would help if salary information was more upfront for a lot of jobs, and if applications were simpler at a lot of companies (just cover letter and resume, maybe writing sample, versus pages and pages of an online application you fill out) so that you’re not wasting time on a job that might not be a fit. But that’s always a risk in job hunting. And I don’t think calling is ever really going to benefit you in the job hunt, at best it will be neutral and at worst it will harm your chances.

    1. Evergreen*

      I was wondering if perhaps the hiring timeframe was out of sync with other rival companies for similar types of roles, or perhaps if there is a lot of demand for this particular skillset.

      It would make sense to phone and try to get more info if you had to respond to an offer from another, possibly less prestigious company soon.

      I mean, it doesn’t sound like it OPs case, but it’s an example of where following up could help you.

  9. TootsNYC*

    Also, get a Google Voice number for applications, perhaps, and set up a voicemail greeting that says, “We will reach out to job candidates in about three weeks; please be patient. We promise to get back to everyone eventually. You can find more details about hours and duties on our web page; click on XYZ.”

    And on the website, be really clear about this number being for job applicants, and make sure your seasonal-job info is really clear on the website, and reiterate: “We receive lots of applications; we cannot field calls. There will be plenty of time to answer questions at your interview.”

    1. TootsNYC*

      Maybe even put on your website the very frank: “We know your grandma or your dad is probably insisting you should call and speak to someone so that you have a better chance at the job. We promise you it won’t matter–everyone gets the same chance, even if they don’t call.”

      I might even ask for a text number, and find some way to automate a text response from the Google Voice number that says: “We got your application. We will be in touch after May 14. See information on our website: [url here]. Please do NOT contact us before then, no matter how much your family and friends insist you should.”

      1. babblemouth*

        “Grandma or Dad” would probably insist that it’s a trick, and that they secretly expect you to call anyway.

  10. My 2 Cents*

    I hire for a lot of positions and used to get lots of calls, so I’ve done two things and it’s made all the difference. In the job ad we say at the bottom “Absolutely no phone calls”.

    If for reason I do get a call from someone who has “questions” (usually they just want to get their name noticed) I tell them to email me their questions and I’ll get back to them and I give them my email address. Never had anyone follow up with an email, because they didn’t actually have questions.

    When I started here 3 years ago I was constantly annoyed by calls for job postings, now I get maybe one or two a year because of the above.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The thing about “absolutely no phone calls” is that it can turn off candidates who wouldn’t call for bad reasons; it’s a pretty abrupt phrase. And you really do want candidates to be able to call in some cases, like if they have technical issues with your application system.

      1. My 2 Cents*

        We don’t have an application system, it’s just an email address where they send their resume and cover letter (and any additional information that we’ve asked for, if any). It’s not likely that the email address isn’t working correctly, but in the case that it is (they’ve typed it incorrectly) I’ve had applicants forward it to my work email, which they got from our website. It actually impresses me that they problem solved without calling me, though less so when I can see the original email and realize they typed it in wrong and that was the problem.

      2. Dan*

        You know… I had applied to two different companies in the same space. They both actually used the same back end server for their ATS (such that one address was “company1 dot atscompany dot com”, and the other was “company2 dot atscompany dot com”.

        Company 1’s server would crash AFTER asking for my 10 year life history (I work in transportation, for whatever reason they ask for this crap at the application stage). There was no email address to report problems. Company 2 had the exact same process, but no issue with the submission. To this day, I have no idea if Company 1 actually received and processed my application. There was simply no way to notify anybody of a problem.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Asking for the 10 year background stuff in the application is one of my biggest pet peeves. Just because they need that info from the one or two people they hire they waste all of our time imputting it every time. They should just make it clear in the job ad that it’s something the successful candidate will need to supply and leave it at that until they actually intend to do something with it.

          I’m always thankful when I find an application that doesn’t ask for it immediately.

  11. Caledonia*

    When the applicants are applying for the job, is there an auto-response to acknowledge receipt?

    You could also erase the ‘call for more info’ and have one instead for ‘IT issues e.g. application did not save’ if you feel that the job ad has plenty of information and detail for applicants.

    1. ZSD*

      I like both of these suggestions! I think your suggested wording about the IT issues lets candidates know whom to call if they truly need to (as the OP described), but it should cut down on the people just calling to get noticed.

  12. Brett*

    “Would a reasonable person looking at the ad walk away with a thorough enough understanding of what the job entails, what qualifications you’re seeking, and other key details?”
    It sounds as if the OP has thorough postings, but I was amazed at how many job postings I encountered while searching that were just a generic job title, a list of qualifications, and “please send resume and salary requirements” (to a third party recruiter). In other words, the ad did not have: employer, location, experience level, or responsibilities. (Though I eventually learned to skip these ads altogether.)

  13. Ama*

    I manage a grant application, and though it isn’t a job application, a lot of the same principles apply. One thing that has happened to us is that external sites that collect grant opportunities will sometimes pull only partial info off our website/application announcement, which means some of the people calling me really *haven’t* seen the full application. So make sure one of those sites that aggregates job listings isn’t pulling your posting and leaving off crucial info.

  14. HR Recruiter*

    Why do you have a phone number on your ads? Like Alison said the people who call are not the people you want to hire. If you want them to be able to contact you with legitimate questions set up an email address just for hiring that whoever has time to handle responses can look at. I try and contact applicants back because its the polite thing to do and I want my company to have a good reputation. But in all honesty we can’t keep up with the calls even without the number being on our ads. Today we had someone apply at 12:00 pm and called at 12:04 pm to find out why we hadn’t looked at her resume yet. Also, for entry level seasonal jobs you want your ad to be simple not real detailed. The things you get the most questions about, put those in bold.

    1. TootsNYC*

      If it’s true that you don’t have a phone number on the ads, and applicants are just calling the main number, then get a Google Voice number and PUT that number on your ad, so people will know to call there.

      And have voicemail there that tells them to apply online, what the URL is, and that you can’t take any phone calls until after the interview process.

      Then, of course, be really good about getting back to even people you won’t interview to say, “Got your application, sorry we won’t be moving forward.” or, other.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Why do you have a phone number on your ads?

      The OP doesn’t. The candidates look up her phone number on the company’s website.

  15. Rocky*

    I almost always get these inquiries via email, and I would be peeved about phone calls (I would probably tell them I couldn’t take the call, and send me an email instead). When I get the emails, I have a boilerplate spiel about how the job posting has all the information they need, and where we are in the recruitment process. I’m willing to answer a simple, specific question like, “Does this job involve teapot design or just teapot production?” but anything more than that, and I just direct people back to the job posting and what the process looks like. Once we’ve selected candidates for I interviews I will really do whatever I can to be available for extra questions.

    I agree that most of the time this seems to be about the candidate wanting to get noticed. And that these are rarely the candidates you end up wanting to interview.

  16. Kelly White*

    ooh. I feel bad- last year one of my clients told me about a job opening that they hoped I’d apply for- I couldn’t find any salary range in the description on the website, and I called HR as I didn’t want to waste their time or mine if the salary range was way below what I was making. The commute would have been about 3 times longer, but I’m sure the benefits would have been better, so I would have been willing to consider it.

    I really wasn’t trying to get noticed by the hiring folks, I just needed some more info?

    What would have been a better way to handle that? Just apply and hope it didn’t get back to my employer?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Was it at the company your client worked at? If so, that’s a little different; when you have a personal in, you have more leeway to ask questions.

      1. Kelly White*

        yes, it was. My client specifically contacted me outside of work to ask me to apply for a position on their team.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I would have just applied. Unless there’s a reason to believe the salary is substandard, I would just proceed until you get far into the interview process (maybe even the offer stage) to ask about salary ranges. The one exception I made to this was when I was leaving a position of a certain class (director level) for one of a different class (non-director level), and I knew I would have to take a pay cut, so I asked very early on (not before they reached out to me, though, for a phone interview) what the salary range was (I knew I’d be taking a cut, just not sure how much of a cut).

      If you’re applying for something that’s a similar or higher position, though, I would just go in good faith. It’s very possible they may have a certain range in mind, but by the time they get through the interview process, they might be willing to go above that range to get you.

      1. Rocky*

        If someone involved in the hiring process had reached out to me to apply for the job, I would ask if they thought the hiring manager would be able to answer some questions, and if so, could my contact connect us. Otherwise, yeah, I would just proceed in good faith and raise the salary question if things moved forward.

      2. Kelly White*

        That’s just it- I really don’t know what the salary range is- I actually believe I’m higher paid then most, but I have no idea for real. I work in a niche market, and every job I’ve had has been about the same in terms of responsibilities, but each time my salary has gone up fairly significantly.

        The job I’m in now, I have no idea if there is even anyone doing what I do (at least in my area)- its a weird hybrid combo of what are normally two completely separate positions.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          In that case, I’d still just apply to jobs and just see what happens. It could be that the kinds of jobs you can get will offer significantly more than what you make now… or significantly less. I can tell you that a lot of hiring managers who don’t show the common courtesy to list salary ranges in the job posting will not be psyched to hear candidates press them for a salary range in or before the first interview, especially if the first interview is only a phone screen.

        2. Rocky*

          I agree 100% with Anon Educator again.

          Our job postings always include a minimum, but the maximum depends on how badly we want the candidate, what they negotiate, and some budget factors that can be unpredictable. So there’s no set-in-stone upper ceiling, but there’s a point at which I’d have to sell our leadership really hard that this person is worth it. And I have no idea if that’s the case when it’s so early in the recruitment process.

          1. Anna*

            An applicant shouldn’t have to go through the work of applying for a job that may be under their lower threshold for salary because it *might* bug someone if they call and ask for an important piece of info not included in the job listing. I can understand including the lower limit, but not including any information at all is a crappy move.

        3. penny*

          Why not ask the person that asked you to apply? Besides, if the salary isn’t posted, HR probably isn’t sharing that with applicants who call. So it makes more sense to have that referral connect you or ask on your behalf.

  17. Mando Diao*

    OP, you mentioned above that you publish your phone number so applicants can reach you if the application system goes down. Why not fix the system? If the system is down often enough that the solution (publishing your phone number) creates a huge inconvenience, it’s time to get to the source of the issue (the faulty application software) instead of focusing on the phone calls.

    Either that, or accept that you might miss out on some applications. But if it’s an entry-level seasonal part-time job with no chance of going full-time, I don’t see the point in assuming that you could possibly miss out on a super-great candidate. When you’re hiring for a part-time seasonal job, you’re going to get candidates who don’t read the job description and who aren’t aware of norms. It sounds like someone at your company doesn’t want to accept this. Fix your system, or get the funds together to develop a few permanent full-time positions.

    1. OP*

      The system has never gone down! I just meant that if it did, or if something similar happened, it would be perfectly reasonable for the applicant to call. Or one time, an applicant had a very specific situation/question, and it did make sense for that person to call. Basically, as Alison has said above, about 1% of the time someone has a legit reason to call and I don’t want to make it impossible for a serious candidate to do so.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        But why can’t applicants with a legitimate question or issue email instead of calling? Emails are far easier to deal with (you don’t have to answer right away, they’re far easier to forward to the relevant party if it’s not you, etc.).

        I would still recommend saying “Absolutely no calls” on the ad, and if people have legit issues, they can email you (don’t say that, but people who are desperate to get in touch with you will, especially if you prominently display an email address on your website).

        1. Allison*

          Because people are telling job seekers that phone calls are more effective at getting people’s attention and establishing connections with decision-makers. Those people are wrong, but that’s the message going around.

      2. TootsNYC*

        how much sense did it make for that person to call? Was it truly something they needed to know before you called to arrange an interview? (not before the interview; before your call to set up the interview)

        1. OP*

          I guess maybe the person didn’t absolutely need to know, but it was someone who had worked for us a few years back and was wondering about increasing the compensation for more experience. Their manager had since moved on, so they asked me if I could connect them to the new hiring manager, which I was happy to do. Like I said, very specific scenario, but we definitely were glad they called and we wanted a chance to sell them on coming back to do the position again.

    2. knitchic79*

      I don’t know that this is fair. Plenty of seasonal jobs have skeleton full time staff (i.e. rafting guides, ski resorts, some types of major landscaping companies.) It’s not always feasible to just scare up money and make these jobs full time.
      Yes, if the application system is consistently going down that needs to be fixed, but unless that is the case I’m going to trust that the OP’s company knows of they need to expand their full time staff.
      Op I’d go with just adding to the posting that you are unable to field calls at this time. Make sure your job posting is clear with the most important requirements in bold. And maybe add an email that gets checked for people to report any technical issues with the site.

      1. Mando Diao*

        Your first paragraph supports my point though, which is that you can’t hire for a seasonal position and wonder why your applicants aren’t as savvy and experienced as the people who were hired for the permanent positions. IMO you’re fighting the realities of your job (hiring presumably-young people for part-time seasonal work with entry level pay) if you don’t put the pieces together and accept that this problem is cropping up for a reason.

        1. OP*

          While it would be lovely if the calls magically stopped, I’m not particularly surprised that people call me. What I mainly wanted to know from Alison was 1. if I was being unreasonable in not wanting to chat with applicants about the position and 2. what to say to get off the phone. Alison & the commenters here have been very helpful on both counts!

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Your first paragraph supports my point though, which is that you can’t hire for a seasonal position and wonder why your applicants aren’t as savvy and experienced as the people who were hired for the permanent positions.

          Honestly, the fact that the find the OP’s phone number, which isn’t in the job ad, tells me they’re slightly more resourceful than a lot of people I know.

  18. eunice*

    or super out of touch with the times, considering office email has been around for 15 years now

  19. Recruit-o-rama*

    OP- in my position as an internal corporate recruiter for a company consistently growing entry level headcount, I have nothing but sympathy, you will probably not likely ever stop the calls. In my company, there are five members of the recruiting team and this is how we’ve handled this.

    There is a general recruiting number that goes directly to voicemail. The ads neither encourage or discourage calls, but people can find the recruiting number pretty easily on our site.

    Each of us take a day of the week to check the voicemail. I tell people that I can confirm if their application was sucessfully received and if it wasn’t I can do some general troubleshooting to help them get it through. If it was already declined, I tell them to log into the website it check their email. If they are sitting on a call list I tell them that they should expect a phone call from the recruiter in charge of the facility they applied to within a week or so. I also direct them to check the website or their email for future updates since every candidate is dispositioned in a similar way to what you described.

    I think if you direct them to a voicemail that you check and reply to a few times a week, you might at least feel less disrupted? I appreciate your consideration for young workers entering the work force; they don’t know the norms and they are excited to find a job. I feel the same way.

  20. Boo*

    Not really any advice for the OP but reading the responses with interest and feel Alison’s script will be helpful to me – lately I’ve noticed we’re getting a lot of candidates wanting feedback for why they weren’t shortlisted for interview. Not feedback on interview, but feedback on why they’ve not gone through to the interview stage. I am really surprised by this as it would never occur to me to do that myself, but it seems to be an increasingly common trend and is very time consuming responding even when I reiterate what we say in our standard rejection (so yes they are kept in the loop about their application, I confirm receipt, then respond to say if they were shortlisted or not). It’s just…gah.

    1. Recruit-o-rama*

      I tell people that we are unable to provide individual feedback because of volume.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, when you’re on the other side of things, you quickly realize just how many people on the applicant side are not like you. I’ve seen this in admissions, recruiting, and hiring. Yes, in admissions, you get the parents who demand to know why their child wasn’t admitted. In recruiting, you absolutely get the candidates who demand to know why they aren’t able to work with you or get connected to hiring managers. In the general hiring process, you get candidates who ask why they weren’t selected.

      And some are well-intentioned and genuinely want information. Others are looking for an “in” to argue with you or threaten you with a lawsuit. It’s terrible.

      I would never, never tell someone why she or he isn’t making it to the next round or getting an interview. Not worth it.

    3. Panda Bandit*

      It feels like the bad advice givers found a new thing to latch onto. My parents insisted if I had an interview that didn’t pan out to ask for feedback. I can see that morphing into people wanting feedback for why they didn’t get an interview in the first place.

  21. Allison*

    Working in recruitment, it didn’t take me long to suspect that when someone contacts me with “questions,” they’re looking for a reason to make a connection with me and stand out among the applicants. I mean, it helped, I definitely saw their messages, but they were usually unqualified and getting my attention didn’t really change that fact.

    What would usually happen is they’d message me, I’d answer the question, and they’d say okay, in that case, they were interested and told me their availability for an interview, even though they hadn’t applied or sent me any information about their background. Then, when I directed them to apply to the job, they’d go dark on me. Seemed like they assumed asking me a question would open a dialogue that would help them circumvent the normal application process.

    OR they’d ask a question, like whether the job can be done remotely or whether we pay relo, or whether it can be done part-time because they’re still in school, or the good ol’ “here’s my life story, am I qualified?” message, and I give them an answer they don’t like, they get mad and try to argue, as though I’m in any position to change the job for them just because they’re awesome, or something.

    Folks, please, if the job looks good, just apply to it!

    1. Rocky*

      Oh yes, that one.

      1. Applicant emails questions about the job.
      2. I send my boilerplate response and maybe answer a few questions
      3. Applicant: “Great, attached are my resume, cover letter, and references!”
      4. Me: “Please apply through the HR portal [just like it says in the job posting]. I’m not allowed to consider applications that come in any other way.”
      5. Applicant: “Oh, sorry!”

      1. Allison*

        But do they apply, or do they get all mad that you asked and refuse to go any further?

        1. Rocky*

          Most do end up following the procedure. But the instructions in our job postings are really really clear – they literally say, “go to [link], enter [requisition number], and upload a cover letter, resume, and three references.” So ignoring it, for whatever reason, is not a great first impression.

          1. Anonsie*

            I’ve never had a single application come through the online system after a “please see my attached CV/cover letter” email. It’s infuriating–they’ve wasted everyone’s time and won’t get a job with us, even if they might have been in the running had they been willing to, I don’t know, follow simple instructions. *sigh*

  22. newlyhr*

    I usually tell them that if they are selected for an interview I will be happy to spend 10 minutes on the phone before the interview answering questions about salary and benefits so they can determine if they want to continue in the process ,ut to save their job related, culture related, amount of workload related, flexibility related, opportunities for advancement related, etc etc questions for the the hiring manager at the interview.

  23. LQ*

    I’ve called a couple times. Once was sort of to have a “Should I even bother applying for this job?” conversation with someone I knew fairly well who absolutely knew I was job hunting and I was trying to get a sense if my name had been tarnished at all with the situation at my employer (they were going under). The other was a wildly inaccurate job description and I had gotten an email and the one on their website was very different so I wanted to see which was correct. Both of these situations I had connections at already. (The first one a very strong connection, they were one of our biggest funders and I felt like it was the right call to make – though we did agree that it wouldn’t be a good job for me. The second one I only knew very casually but it seemed like a genuine error.) I assume having connections sort of changes the equation?

  24. Erin*

    I would re-examine the ad for the job opening. Make sure it’s specific enough and includes answers to the commonly asked questions and is up to date. Maybe putting an email address for the hiring manager saying please contact Sometimes online job opening ads are way out of date. So I always call to make sure the job isn’t filled. I’ve seen some ads that were dated from a over a year ago.
    It would only take 30 minutes at the most and it would save hours of both the op and the canadates time.

  25. Stephanie (HR)*

    I work HR as well, and am the contact person for external applicants. I’ve taken down the HR phone number from our website and had an email address created and I encourage applicant to direct their questions to HR via email both on the website and in my voicemail message. I find that responding to emails allows me to catch anything urgent, I can follow up with a phone call if it’s appropriate, and it takes less time to weed through them. I have no problem with people checking in or asking questions, after all, how many of us have gotten bad job-search advise in our lives? But, like Alison said, they are not usually the strong candidates, and this lets me spend less time overall responding to their questions.

    Additionally, if someone does leave a message, you can tell right away that they are not able to follow pretty simple instructions. Unless they say in the message that they realize they were supposed to send an email, but extenuating circumstances, etc, I do not usually call those back.

    And finally, it allows me some time to think about how I want to respond to some of the inquiries and look up their application if I need to. Some questions they pose can need a delicate answer, and I do much better if I have a minute to take a deep breath and think about how I want to reply.

    I think someone already recommended the FAQ page, but that would be my other suggestion.

  26. Hot Chocolate*

    I think this is great advice and I don’t normally call to enquire because I don’t want to come across as one of those pushy ‘make a good impression’ people but annoyingly, the very first job I was rejected for when I started my most recent job searching said I should have called to talk about the job and get a more thorough understanding of what it entailed, and that my application would have been stronger if I’d done that.

    1. Jack the treacle eater*

      This. It’s probably an admission that their ad wasn’t well phrased or comprehensive enough, but if the ad’s poorly written how do you know if the job’s suitable or do a tailored application without calling for more information?

  27. Jack the treacle eater*

    I know I’m harping on a bout this, but I’d really like to get to the bottom of this ‘don’t call’ thing, in general terms rather than for this particular role.

    I’ve read through the comments here, and also the other postings on this subject linked to above. There seem to be several main themes:
    – Candidates mainly call because they’re trying to sell themselves, not because they want to know more;
    – Candidates call because they can’t or don’t bother to read the job description;
    – Candidates call because their dad / gran / bad careers advisor told them to;
    – These calls are all a waste of time;
    – No-one who calls is ever going to be a good fit for the job.

    I have to say, I’m a caller; not always, but fairly often. Generally the jobs I call for are advertised through recruiters, and the reasons to call are typically:
    – Recruiter (or hiring manager) specifically requests prospective candidates to call;
    – Job ad is vague, badly written or lacking crucial information, such that:
    1. It’s difficult to tell what level (entry to senior) the job is,
    2. There is no information about who to apply to or how to apply,
    3. There is insufficient information to even start tailoring an application to the job description,
    4. There’s a big mismatch between job and required skillset;
    – There is no closing date given and it is difficult to tell whether the vacancy is still current.

    Where I do call, I’ll call before beginning an application, not to chase up, and in every case I’m calling because I genuinely feel I need more information.

    I can think of a number of points here:
    – I’m looking at high level technical (STEM) roles, and that might be different to entry level or humanities roles;
    – I’m mainly thinking of ads placed by recruiters, and discussions centre around ads by hiring managers;
    – There may be a difference between US and UK market attitudes, situation or norms.

    I’m now unsure as to whether I should ever be calling. I don’t want to set off on a big tangent, but I’d appreciate any thoughts, particularly from recruiters and hiring managers.

    1. Sydney*

      If you have a legitimate question about a job posting, then you should ask it. You are probably one of the 1% who actually have a real question when you call. That’s fine. When they answer your question, thank them and then apply the correct way. Not many normal people will be mad at you if you do this. But if there’s a line about not calling, or to email if you have questions, do that instead.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, the first thing is — is it working? Are you getting interviews from a fair number of these? If so, it’s working and you probably don’t need to worry about it. (And if so, maybe it is a US/UK difference, who knows.)

      That said, generally I’d say that #3 and #4 aren’t reasons to call; they’re reasons to pass it up, perhaps, but not to call. #1, maybe, but I’d email rather than calling since it’s less disruptive. #2, sure. And of course, if the ad specifically asks people to call, that’s different.

      1. Nico m*

        But for #3 and #4 why not call?
        You cant burn a bridge that doesnt exist.

        There are jobs out there where HR and/or an external recruiter have made an absolute pigs arse of the advert.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          #3 — because they’ve given you the information they think you need, and they’re not concerned with whether you feel it allows you to tailor your application.

          #4 — they obviously think there’s not a mismatch.

          1. Jack the treacle eater*

            Thanks Alison. I feel it’s working – or at least, not hampering. I’m getting about a 20% strike rate applications to interviews.

          2. Jack the treacle eater*

            I read VV’s relevant post below after reading this. I think you make good points about #3 and #4 being reasons to pass. Thinking about it, my experience has been that #1, #3 or #4 tend to apply where the company are muddled, disorganised, the manager is flaky or they are trying to get a high performer for entry level money, and I’ve ended up thinking I don’t actually want the job.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          There are jobs out there where HR and/or an external recruiter have made an absolute pigs arse of the advert.

          And yet those companies are still continuing to use that external recruiter or to keep that HR person employed, so it tells you something about the company. I used to work in an external recruiting capacity, and we never monkeyed with the job description we were supplied with by our clients.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        That said, generally I’d say that #3 and #4 aren’t reasons to call; they’re reasons to pass it up

        I’ve seen a couple of people here imply that they must know absolutely everything about a job (exact description, salary range) to make an informed decision to apply for a job, and I’m not sure that’s the mentality I’d recommend. I would say just apply anyway… or pass it up. It isn’t a reason to call.

        If you need all the relevant information in order to apply, and there are sufficient ads that meet your criteria, reply only to those postings. If there are sufficient ads, then just start applying to those anyway—you will find out in the various interview stages (phone screen, in-person interview, on-site visit, etc.) all the information you need to know… and the information can change!

        1. Jack the treacle eater*

          You can’t ever know everything about a job unless you’re doing it, I think!

    3. penny*

      Obviously, if the ad says to call, that’s different. If it either doesn’t say either way or says don’t call,then don’t.

      #1-you should get some idea by the years of experience required or the work itself. If it’s bit specific, that may mean they’re open to a range of experience.

      #2-that would be extremely odd,especially in more than one case. Are you sure you’re looking hard enough? Look for buttons that say apply or links, not just contact info.

      #3-there should be enough to somewhat tailor it and if not then just send in what you have. If they like your experience, them contact you. They aren’t going to provide you a bunch of helpful info not posted if you call.

      #4. That’s your opinion, not theirs. Or maybe it seems that way if you don’t have the right level of experience. Unless it’s an electrical engineering job asking for a marketing degree & experience which might indicate an error on their end, the posted what they wanted to post

      Regarding your points-
      1-probably not
      2-maybe. IF you mean recruiter as in external recruiters/recruiting agencies, not internal recruiters with an employer. Otherwise, internal recruiters, hr & hiring managers are being used interchangeably here & all dislike these calls.

      Some recruiting agencies put fishing job ads or there that are vague so they can collect resumes or applicants to create a pool for potential clients. Also, recruiting firms may not mind you calling the way a direct employer would since you could potentially make then money. Most people here are referring to a direct employer

      3-maybe. No point of reference

    4. Jack the treacle eater*

      Thanks for all your comments. They’ve set me thinking about a few things.

      Now I think back, the companies who have vague or inadequate ads often tend to be the ones who turn out at interview to be flakey or otherwise ring alarm bells. This is interesting and goes to Alison’s point about letting them pass, and VV’s points below.

      I don’t know if I agree with points about inadequate information being my opinion, not theirs. For a technical job, in my field anyway, you have a good idea of what skills are required at a particular level. The most egregious example I’ve had was where I was rejected at the application stage as I had not highlighted design skills which were not even suggested as a requirement in the ad!

  28. Emily*

    I usually e-mail before I call, but the truth is – many job descriptions are poorly written and it is not always clear what they are looking for! I understand that taking multiple calls from job candidates can be annoying and time consuming, but if you would take the time to attend to customers and clients, why don’t companies accommodate job seekers to a certain extent? To group anyone who has questions about the job position as unqualified is harsh – so many qualified candidates don’t make it past screening. I was once personally referred for the same job I applied for online – only right after its automated system rejected me. Sometimes its useful to know exactly what a job is supposed to entail.

  29. V.V.*

    “For what it’s worth, I’ve always noticed a fascinating correlation: The people who call with questions before applying are almost never people you’re going to end up wanting to interview. Strong candidates just don’t do it.”

    I have noticed something as well, many times when there is a job where I have questions about applying which are not addressed in the ad — it is usually a job I am not going to want.

    Basically if I have to call to find out something like how to apply, or find out if the working location is even in my commuting area, or notify them that their application system has been down for a week, I may as well skip that ad and not waste my time applying at all.

    Even if the question or query is legitimate, I just put myself out of the running because I picked up that phone.

    On one rare occasion I called, it was because I had reason to believe that the company’s online application site been compromised (of course it was one those applications that require your SSN#, Mother’s Maiden Name and your Ancestral Line from the beginning of time before allowing you to proceed). Immediately after applying, I received dozens of spam and phishing messages from them along with their confirmation of receipt.

    Silly me for thinking this was information they might want to have! When I called to let them know I was experiencing this problem, I was curtly informed that *they* weren’t receiving any spam… Soooooo… Why was I calling and completely wasting their time? Unfortunately the conversation devolved rapidly: the woman I spoke with accused me of making it up so that I could try to sell them something!

    When I explained for the second time that I was calling for concern about the sensitive material in my application, I was interrupted and told that if the company was interested in interviewing me they would contact me shortly, and hung up. Truly, as if I had nothing better to do but invent reasons to call about the job.

    Fortunately for me, the spam eventually stopped and nothing ever came of the “hacking” (though weeks later it was on the news). Honestly, I am glad I never heard from them again, and have thus far, been able to gently steer friends and family away.

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