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Ask Brian – Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

August 11th, 2008 · 6 Comments

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If you have career or job search question you would like answered on this blog, click here to Ask Brian.

Alison asks:

I’ve actually got two questions and it is probably relevant that I’m looking into non-profit/arts work and that my questions pertain to those positions at small offices with only a handful of employees and no real HR department, i.e. an independent movie theater with five employees.

First, I read where you felt that mailing a resume makes one stand out, would you say the same applies to hand-delivering the resume directly to the company? What if I already sent it via email, would sending it again via snail mail or taking it there myself, thus applying twice I suppose, be worthwhile or just make me look desperate/stupid?

Second, as this is my first job hunt, I’m on the boards daily and applying shortly after postings go up. I’ve received several “We’ve received your application, will review your materials, and if interested will contact after Date X/in a couple of weeks” emails, the timeline usually corresponding with the apply by date. I’m wont to think that emails like this are just “leave us alone, we’ll call you, but not really cause we would just do so if we really wanted to interview you” responses. I guess what I’m asking is how legitimate are apply by dates, do companies really wait until they pass to contact people for interviews, and should I wait a certain amount of time after a posting goes up before submitting my materials?

Brian answers after the jump.

Brian sayz:

First of all, my rule of thumb is, if you have the opportunity to turn a resume in by hand, absolutely do it! It puts a face to a name. I makes sure your resume is not just some anonymous piece of paper. This is especially true in your case. You said these are small organizations without a formal HR department. Small operations lend themselves to face to face applications. Absolutely hand your resume in. Wear something nice and put a smile on your face.

Now, I wanted to answer your second question because it seems that this issue of how-long-to-wait-to-hear-back from an employer is a major issue. One of my previous posts on this topic has proven to be one of the more popular posts on this blog.

In essence, your question is along a similar line. You’ve submitted an application. They give you some random date when you can expect to hear back. Will you hear back from them? What happens if the date passes and you’ve heard nothing?

Let me give you my take on this process. This is based on my experience working with clients… but also my experience as someone who does hiring for my own company. So let’s think through what is going on from the employer’s perspective.

So, I need to hire someone. I give myself an arbitrary amount of time to attract the interest of some qualified applicants. So I say, eh, I hope to have someone new within 3 weeks. So, I’ll put an ad up and declare that the deadline to apply to this job is 2 weeks from now.

Ok. My ad is up. Applications are coming in. But do you think I’m reading each one as they come in and am evaluating as I go? You’d like to think that wouldn’t you? Cause this job and your application are very important to you and you think about it every day. But am I thinking about it every day?

Hate to tell you, but probably I am not. I’m off doing other things. Other projects. This hiring project is just one of many, and it has a deadline down the road. Some I’m not worried about it right now. Even if I’m a hiring manager and all I do is look at applications, I probably have other positions that I’m working on before I get to yours. The deadline for your position is 2 weeks from now, and there are other positions where the deadline expired today. So, I’ll get to your job when I get to it.

So, chances are, I’ve set a deadline. And then I wait. And when that deadline comes, only then do I go to my inbox and sort through the applicants. That’s what the deadline is all about. That’s how I’ve budgeted my time.

And I think that is generally how the application process works, especially with online job ads. There are exceptions, of course. If I need to fill a position, like, YESTERDAY, then maybe I’m reading every resume as they come in and I take the first halfway decent person I can find.

But anyway, that’s why I think the application deadline and the time they say you’ll hear back from them often coincides. It’s just human nature… and generally, this is how time management and scheduling works in the real world.

Now, after that deadline passes, should you expect to hear back from me? Let’s go back into my shoes as the person doing the hiring. I’ve decided on 3 or 4 people I want to interview. So I get back to them right away. But do I get back to you even though I don’t want to interview you? Gee… I gotta tell you… what is my motivation? Unless I have a serious commitment to being polite, why do I need to take the time to write you a note and say, “I’m not interested in you. Thanks anyway.”

That’s why you hear so much about applications that go into a black hole… especially online applications. People are always complaining they apply and apply and apply and never hear back either positively or negatively. So that’s why we’ve done this exercise… to give you an idea of why this happens.

And that brings us full circle to the beginning of my answer. I’m more likely to consider you AND more likely to get back in touch with you if I’ve spoken to you… ESPECIALLY if we’ve spoken in person. Again, it’s human nature. With an online app, it’s all faceless and anonymous. I don’t feel much about rejecting your application and never giving it a second thought. But if I’ve seen your face… well, at least I’ve had that slight human connection to give me pause and maybe extra consideration.

So yeah! Get out there! Hand your resume in in person if you can.

Related posts:

  1. Ask Brian Followup – Still Waiting; Now Confused.

Tags: Ask Brian

  • Rick

    And from the other side of the interaction: If the applicant is willing to take the time and effort to hand-deliver his or her resume, that may send a message that the person is willing to do whatever it takes to get a job done. I’d be willing to *at least* look at the resume.

  • sopheap

    Thank so much for your advices, but I always thinking about this. and I can not effort to hand-deliver his or her. cus they don’t give me the address.

    best regards,

  • KD

    One of my biggest gripes is with the employment agencies. >80 in my city. Sent resumes/intro letters, called, and went by to meet with someone. No return calls, brush-off at the door, etc. I have great resume, well groomed, well versed, excellent references and experience. However, they won’t even bother to talk to me. Oh, and btw, I’m over 50. Can we possibly say AGE DISCRIMINATION?

    I have been doing some research and have read where recruiters are being told by companies to NOT bring them resumes of anyone >40 or 45. Job descriptions are skewed to weed out anyone over 40. Blatent and illegal discrimination, but companies ARE doing it and ARE getting away with it.

  • Plato

    Hand delivering is a waste of time and here are my reasons why….
    Managers do not want to speak to walk ins with resume or applications, they do not want to deal with phone calls either. It is very sad but true. I worked in a small hotel at the front desk first shift, I never saw one person who called or came in get hired. In fact my managers would get angry with me if I put a phone call back to them. I have had good results with mailing in resumes. Most people are scared to just toss out mail and they usually pass it by hand to the person below them, but they do usually look at it because they are unsure if it is a customer or not.

  • betty

    Interesting … this is a real conundrum for me… I send out a number of resumes to highly relevant postings – that is, ones I feel well-suited for and mirror my resume well. I try to submit close to the deadline with the hope that I won’t get buried. The deadline passes and nothing. So I keep sending out resumes and go to interviews for less attractive positions. Now here’s the rub – sometimes up to 6 weeks AFTER the deadline, I get a call to schedule an interview. It has become so frequent that I’m almost assuming that I probably won’t hear for at least a month after the deadline… what are hiring managers thinking? Or it is that the ‘better’ candidates have not accepted and they are working their way through to the dregs? (I really hope the latter is just my paranoia…)
    Anyhow, wondering if anyone else has experienced this…

  • betty

    and I agree with hand delivering but only when that option has been listed in the job posting. Otherwise, I think it’s seriously detrimental to your chances … many postings specify NO phone calls or visits