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Pursing Without Being Pushy

By Matt Lowney

As a recruiter I deal with dozens of candidates each day.  Some of these candidates apply for a position never to be heard from again; others follow up three times a day.  While not returning my phone calls is a guaranteed way to not land an interview, candidates who are overly aggressive, even pushy, in their follow up can also hurt their chances of getting an interview.  The application and interview process is basically a sales process.  Your resume is your marketing tool to interest potential employers and your interview (i.e. sales) skills help you get job offers.  The better you are at selling yourself as a candidate, the more and better job offers you will receive.  A key part of this sales process is following up without appearing to be too pushy or overly eager.
We have all dealt with sales people who are too pushy.  We have also dealt with sales people who do not provide us with the information we need.  As an applicant, your job is to find the sweet spot in between these two extremes.  How do you know if you follow up is appropriate?  Below are a couple of points that should help guide you in your follow up with employers.

Set Expectations.  Look at your follow up from the manager's perspective.  After an interview you want to get as much feedback as quickly as possible.  The hiring manager might not be working on the same time frame.  For example, she may be need to wait until the completion of a big project before making a hiring decision.  To avoid this confusion you should ask when to expect follow up.  If you haven't heard back from the manager in the time frame she has specified then you should give her a call.  A good idea is to call the manager a little bit before the end of the time frame she gives.  For example, if the manager says you should hear back in two weeks, you should call the hiring manager a week or so later expressing your interest in the position.  Often, hiring managers will forget whom they've interviewed, especially if they are interviewing for several positions at once.  A friendly reminder can really help to refresh the manager's memory, especially if you can leave an enticing message that refers to some key points from your interview.  Keep your message short, friendly, and to the point. 

Too much follow up.  As mentioned earlier, candidates often over pursue employment opportunities and end up hurting their chances of getting the position.  Hiring managers often shy away from candidates who appear pushy or desperate.  Instead, most hiring managers want to hire someone who is in demand.  As a candidate your job is to play this game by being professional and holding your cards close to the vest.

Matt Lowney is a corporate recruiter, radio host, and career consultant specializing in the areas of healthcare and information technology.  He can be reached at for additional information about his services.