Saturday, June 20, 2009

Follow-Up to Resume: Quality vs. Quantity

The question of follow-up is about as heated as any other I’ve seen on career advice and human resources sites. Jobseekers complain bitterly about deplorable lack of communication from potential employers, while HR folks with share scary stories candidates who call and show up unannounced with stalker-like flavor.

Even in the HR world, perspectives vary widely. A recent recruiter blog urged “Call, follow-up; otherwise, how else will I know you’re interested?” My opinion, which is mine alone and not necessarily aligned with the rest of the HR world is this: follow-up conservatively and with intention. Quality over quantity any day. But do consider your job function in the equation; for example, if you are expected to be aggressive on the job (think sales) you probably want to be more aggressive with your resume follow-up than might otherwise be the case.

As you plan your follow-up strategy remember that HR people, especially those who wear multiple hats, truly are very busy people. I won't bore you with the long list of tasks on my to-do list, but I do get busy, and honestly, the issues are sometimes life or death material. Keep that in mind when you pick up the phone to follow-up with an HR contact.

I’m not saying don’t call, I’m just saying plan your strategy. When I attempting to expeditiate, say, a life insurance claim, and the phone rings and the following transpires, it is both a disruption and a source of frustration.

“Ah, hi, this is Annabelle Smith. I’m just calling to follow-up on my resume.”

“How are you,” I answer, “this is Krista Francis.” A moment of silence. You say you are calling to follow-up, so I am waiting for you to follow-up. This is your moment. A few more seconds of silence pass. But for some reason, you seem to think the ball is in my court, and you wait for me to speak.

So that’s what NOT to do. You want to stand out in a positive way; in other words, no offense, but give me a reason to be glad I put something else on hold to answer your call.

Let me give you an example of a ‘value-added’ follow-up. The phone rings and I answer. You say: “Hi, this is Janella Kohn! The receptionist said you just got out of a meeting, so I thank you for taking a minute to talk. I have three years experience at a similar nonprofit in Pennsylvania, and I would love to come to work for you! I say that because I spent some time on your website and I’m so excited about everything I saw. I sent a resume earlier this week. Do you have time to talk now, or can we schedule a time later?”

Halfway through that speech, I am salivating. The life insurance issue is momentarily on hold and I am jumping up and down while--no joke--the song “I’m Walking on Sunshine!” is starting to play in the background like a movie soundtrack!

Now that’s a follow-up!

And it doesn’t have to be by phone; an email is very unobtrusive and works just as well, often better.