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Don’t overwhelm prospective employers during your job search

Keep calm and follow up respectfully so you don’t hurt your chances of getting hired.

Don’t overwhelm prospective employers during your job search

In his past work as a hiring manager, Richard Orbé-Austin, now a partner at Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting in Manhattan, says he dealt with a lot of job candidates — and the ones who are overly persistent stand out — in a bad way.

He recalls one woman who continuously called and emailed him — and members of his team — from the start of the application-submission process all the way through the end of the search. “I believe the candidate thought she was being appropriately persistent,” he says, “but she came across as overly aggressive, which alienated the search committee.”

It’s natural to be anxious during the hiring process, but letting that anxiety turn into excessive persistence won’t help you get hired. It’s important keep calm during your job search and follow up in a measured, professional manner. Here’s some advice on how to do so.

Understand the recruiter’s P.O.V.

Your job search is probably filling up most of your free time and thoughts. But you have to keep in mind that others don’t see it that way.

“Candidates should remember that even though the search is a high priority for them, the person doing the hiring usually has a busy job already and the search is one additional thing they have to undertake,” says Kim Heitzenrater, director of career and leadership development at Sewanee: The University of the South.

Job searches and hiring processes take time, and the people on the hiring end have to go through a lot of steps along the way.

If they tell you they expect a decision or next step by a certain date, Heitzenrater says it’s acceptable to call or email after that date to restate your interest in the position and ask about the next step.

Follow up strategically

Knowing when and how to check in with hiring managers can be tricky. Some employers see following up as taking initiative, but others may find it off-putting, says executive coach Mary Elizabeth Bradford, who is based out of the San Antonio area. If possible, try to get more information upfront in your interviews about what you should expect. “One of the last questions you should ask in a phone or in person interview is, ‘Where do we go from here?’” Bradford says.

Ryan Brechbill, director of the center for career and professional development at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, says he and his colleagues advise job seekers take a “persistent, but not pushy” approach. After applying for an opportunity, it's appropriate to follow up with an email or phone call about a week to 10 days later. “That's an opportunity for the candidate to reiterate interest in the role, align experiences and skills with the employer's need and display genuine interest in the position.”

Brechbill agrees that the end of any interview is a good time to clarify what the next step is. Be respectful of that timeline, but if passes without hearing anything from the company, follow up with a call to check the status of their decision-making process.

Focus on what you can control

It may be easier said than done, but keeping your mind on the things within your power can help you keep your anxiety in check, Orbé-Austin says. “I advise clients to maintain optimism but remain proactive in the job search and use stress-management techniques rather than waiting and worrying about opportunities that may not be forthcoming.”

That means work on developing a stellar application and reaching out to your network. Manage your own stress and anxiety with deep breathing, meditation or exercise. And remember you’re not going to be able to control the pace of the hiring process or an employer’s follow-up schedule.


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