How Employers View Your Follow-up: Desperate, Stalker or Assertive?

Nov 14 2011 in Featured, Job Search Strategy, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

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When you are following up with an employer or recruiter, it’s important to understand how they view your efforts.

Because there’s a fine line between assertive and crazy and employers don’t hire crazy. Employers don’t hire desperate either, when there is a shortage of jobs and an excess of qualified candidates.

The Desperate Candidate:

The desperate candidate calls “just to follow up”, on the day the employer advised for follow up. Why does this give the impression of a desperate candidate?

  • You offer no value: “just to follow up” has no benefit to the employer – following up benefits you, not the employer.
  • When your call/email offers no value, you appear as a pest: Unless you offer value, the employer has no reason to take or return your call/email. If you get lucky and get through to them, you’re an imposition unless your call provides value. Hint: If you hear a keyboard in the background, if the employer isn’t engaged in the call, if you get put on hold, or if they appear to be trying to end the call as quickly as possible … guess what you’re being?
  • Your target hiring manager is busy: You’re one of hundreds of voicemails/emails your hiring manager receives per day.
  • Leave long voice mails: Do you think that trying to take too much of the hiring manager’s time on voice mail will help you get a job?
  • Following up with HR is no better: HR follows hiring manager instructions – so HR follows up when and with whom they are instructed to call. Until then, they won’t have an answer that will help you.
  • Employers typically string candidates along (outside recruiters too): If you even get an answer, expect to be strung along until after the new hire actually starts – just in case the employer needs plan B. It’s in the employers’ best interest to keep all options open until the end … even candidates they have no intention to hire. This means you aren’t likely to get closure, until after the new person starts on the job – it’s on your shoulders to determine which opportunities you still have a chance at getting … so you won’t spend time on the lost causes.
  • Many employers don’t follow up at all: Many employers aren’t staffed to follow up with candidates who aren’t being considered. Even though this can create an angry response from candidates, it takes more time than just follow up for you – it’s follow up for the dozens or hundreds of candidates the employer interviews each day (for reasons and analysis see
  • You look like you’re waiting for the phone to ring: Empty follow up makes the candidate looks like they have nothing better to do.

The Stalker Candidate:

If you not only appear desperate, but a little too desperate, you give the impression of having the chance of “going postal” on a bad day at work. No employer wants this possibility.

  • You call “just to follow up”.
  • You call “just to follow up” the next day.
  • You keep calling to follow up: You ignore the message that the employers’ lack of response is meant to convey. Employers assume you learned this lesson in trying to date the hottest girl/guy in High School and got no response.
  • You remind the employer that you’ve left messages.
  • You leave a message wondering if the employer has received your voice mails and emails.
  • You sound even the least bit miffed or upset at the lack of response.
  • Employers feel that the lack of response is a perfectly acceptable and clear message of no: Take the hint and move on.

The Assertive Candidate:

When your follow-up is truly appreciated, you’ll appear as an assertive candidate to employers – this is just where you want to be and how you want a perspective employer to view you.

  • Send a thank you note: Send it right away – the same day as your interview or phone call. See to get ideas of how to use a thank you note as an effective follow-up.
  • Never call to “follow-up”: Even though that’s what you want out of the conversation, “following-up” offers no value to the employer – so why would you expect them to call you back? Call for a different reason and work the follow up into the conversation.
  • Give the hiring manager a reason to want to take your call: Provide value with every voice mail, every email, every conversation. In voice mails, tell the hiring manager you have industry information (or competitors’ information) to share – but make the employer call you back to get that info.
  • Provide value in every email: Attach an industry or functional article, especially an article about competitors. You could also attach an article to bring up problems you expect the employer faces – ask how they are handing the problem, and offer examples of you’ve successfully solved those problems for past employers and the value your solution provided.
  • Have others follow up for you: Imagine you’re the hiring manager … what would you do if 5 people you respect (especially people within the company) asked about a specific candidate, saying they really liked that candidate? What about if all five followed up in the same week? What about if all 5 mentioned specific ways the candidate solved problems at prior companies, all of which would solve problems at your company? Would you ignore this candidate if all of these people you respected kept telling you how great the candidate was … and why they were great?
  • Don’t attach your resume: If you’ve already applied, the employer already has it. Worse, most companies today have policies that resumes have to be forwarded to HR (see Attaching your resume means your email gets forwarded to HR in most cases – rather than encouraging the hiring manager to read what you’ve written.
  • Employers for sales “hunters” use slightly different rules: Employers who are looking for hunters may test candidates, responding only to candidates who follow up in the way the employer wants follow up to occur in the sales process. This means that some employers of “hunter” positions, will not return calls until a minimum number of messages are left. While this can seem like a stalker for most positions, multiple follow-up can be expected for many jobs that include cold-calling … using the post-interview follow-up as an indication of how you’ll follow up with prospects. Hint: Talk to successful members of your target company’s/department’s/hiring manager’s sales team, to learn how they follow up with clients – so you can use the same tactics with the hiring manager.

The No Follow-up Candidate:

  • Not interested: This just gives the impression that you’re not interested. Again, employers assume you learned this lesson in High School, when someone was more interested in you … than you were in them.
  • No thank-you note: Same thing.

So how do you follow up? Are you giving the impression of being desperate, a stalker or assertive?

Employers/recruiters/HR reps: Please share your impressions and stores with readers – I know you’ve got some juicy ones.


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