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Job Magician Telephone Follow Up so You'll Find that Job  

Following up on resumes is a critical part of any job search, even if doing so is about as much fun as getting knee surgery.  Studies have shown that for every 350 cold resumes received, a company will interview one to two people; for those who follow up on resumes that they’ve mailed, the batting average rises to 1 interview for every 17 contacts.

You should make your initial follow-up call on a cold resume three to five days after your target receives it. Too early, and she probably won't have read it - it may not even have made its way through channels to her desk after a day or two. Too late, and she's forgotten about it.

If you're using direct mail, your letter/resume will normally land the next day if it's local, and in two working days if it's going a thousand miles or less. Cross-country is usually three working days.

Don’t call to “see if you received my resume” (a common, but very tired line). Instead, prepare a script that has a hook in the first 5 to 10 seconds (that’s really all you have before the person on the other end of the line falls asleep).  Try something like this: “My name is Arnold Ziffel, and I have a background in senior marketing management of pork products sold to Kroger, Albertsons and other major supermarkets.  I recently sent you my resume.  I am going to be in Cleveland on March 14, and also in early April, and would like to stop by when I’m in town to introduce myself.”  (That takes 15 seconds to deliver, and the person is either hooked or ignoring you after the first 6 seconds).

If you can’t get through to Ms. Big directly, don’t leave messages with her assistant (there’s no way the assistant will write down your entire message accurately, and in addition, he or she is also likely to refer you to human resources, which is not where you want to go).  Instead, leave a voice mail message if you can’t get through to the right person after a few tries.

Make sure you use different scripts with different types of companies (non-pork-producers will not be impressed by your pork background, but may be interested in your food marketing ability).  When I was the sales manager for a $3-million housewares company and looking for work years ago, a similar script left on voice mail landed me an appointment with the president of a name-brand, $500-million housewares manufacturer.

Milo Frank has written an excellent book entitled, How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less.  If you're going to try to get anywhere by telephone, you'll need to read this book (click here to order the book) or, even better, listen to the audio CD (click here to order the CD), in which you’ll hear live examples of getting-your-point-across-in-30-seconds.  I revised my methods of telephone solicitation after I listened to this, and found I was much more effective in developing new clients, a process which is very similar to finding a new job.

You're selling something when you're job hunting - the product is you.  So follow up as any good salesperson would (and remember to make that follow-up extra nice, because they are buying you and your personality, not merely what you're selling).  It's best if you call several days to a week after your resume would have been received.  If you're too early, the person on the other end won't have had time to read it; if you wait a few weeks, she won't remember.

 
Don't be a pest. Be aggressive, some people will tell you, including some alleged career experts. "You need to keep in touch every two or three days or someone else will slip in and get the job."  Ever have a salesperson call you back every couple of days? When did you start hanging up the phone on him?

One VP/Human Resources, weary because her voicemail box is always overfilled, told me her slogan: "A pesty candidate makes a pesty employee." After your initial follow-up call, it's best to wait 10 to 14 days before trying again.  Some people will leave a message, and then call again the next day (or even the same day). Those people come across as desperate, or simply as annoying. In either case, they aren't helping themselves by calling too fast or too much. Remember, two weeks fly by in the business world, while two weeks can seem endless if you're job hunting, especially if you're out of work.

Once again, follow up as any good salesperson would, which means don't call too much, even if you're on pins and needles.  And don't take no personally (or no response - some businesses are inundated with resumes, and recruiters typically receive 100 resumes a day).  No or no response merely means there is no need for what you're selling right now. 

If your background hasn't required you to do any selling, you should work on your sales skills. A couple of audio programs that I have used to sharpen my sales skills are Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale and David Sandler's Close  the Deal

Also, place your calls when there is a greater chance of connecting with Ms. Big – that means before 8AM, at lunch time, and after 5PM.

***

Don't make your phone calls from a cell phone - you'll probably sound awful (see Why Cell Phones Are Bad News for Job Hunters for more on this). 

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