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  • Diana Schneidman

Phoning for work when you’ve been told not to (or it’s implied)


Whether applying for a “regular” full-time job or for freelance / consulting assignments, sometimes we are instructed to approach posted opportunities through a very specific channel.

For instance, we respond to an ad that calls for us to submit “a resume by email.” In the worst cases, the ad specifies very strongly—maybe even in ALL CAPS—that we are not to follow up.

What to do?

Should we phone a few days after our initial submission to follow up even though calling is not recommended?

And should we especially not phone if they say they don’t want follow up?

And we ask more questions

Do they really read all the communications they receive and give everyone a fair evaluation, just as we’d hope? Or do they get so many answers that they ignore the whole batch and just go with friends of employees?

Most important, would a phone call break through the barriers and help our cause?

There is no way to know how they see it on the other end. I can only assess one side of the exchange—mine. My take is no more accurate than yours. I have no idea what they will do.

But I know what I do: I phone them. And if they don’t answer, I leave a message.

And not just any message. I leave a fairly long message that clarifies who I am, why I am calling, and includes my phone number, said slowly and distinctly, at both the beginning and the end.

I am pragmatic. I couldn’t be blowing it, I figure, by phoning because so few resumes, even if customized and accompanied by a great problem-solving cover letter, ever get results. So there’s nothing to lose.

But it is also an issue of valuing myself and my talents. I am the answer to their problem so I benefit them by phoning and offering my assistance. I figure they want to hear from me; they just don’t know it yet.

If they don’t want to hear from me simply because they’ve said they don’t and why can’t you people follow directions anyway, then I don’t mind being dropped from consideration for taking initiative. They’re not the people I want to work with.

What if everyone did as me and called despite being told not to? They would be constantly bothered and they’d be overwhelmed with a flood of voice mail messages, right?

I disagree. I only apply for opportunities where I see a strong fit. I customize my submission, a task that may require a time investment of half an hour or even longer.

And when the right people go the extra mile to help a prospect (because, after all, we are offering to help), that’s all good.

Originally posted 5-1-11

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