Career advising often involves assisting job seekers navigate their way through activities that most seldom engage in otherwise in their careers or personal lives. I want to focus on two topics people often struggle with; following up with employers and “selling” oneself. In both cases, job seekers need to realize that simply having certain concerns about conducting these activities most likely indicates that they need not worry about how they perform them.
A successful job search requires a great deal of follow up, after both résumé or application submission as well as each stage of interviewing. Frequently, job seekers indicate a hesitance to keep calling back an employer out of concern of appearing too pushy or aggressive. I reassure them that such fears are unwarranted, primarily because pushy and aggressive individuals typically don’t seek permission. Then I cite a survey by Careerbuilder from several years ago in which 96% of the employers said they expect follow up from applicants.
I’m often asked about time parameters. One week following a résumé or application submission should be fine. Once you make contact, as well as following any interview, ask the employer when would be an appropriate time for your next contact. Should they try to leave this open-ended, offer your own date. Ask “If I haven’t head by X, can I call you?”
Another struggle for some occurs regarding how much to stress and document their career accomplishments and achievements, not only on résumés and applications but in interviews as well. They worry that doing too much makes them appear boastful. Just as I reassure those concerned about pestering employers, I remind such individuals not to worry about perceived ego problems and point out that conceited people never have concerns about appearing to be so. Keep in mind the adage “It’s not bragging if you can back it up” as well the reality that if you don’t say it about yourself, nobody else will.
Sadly, what often turns around the thinking of job seekers that struggle with either of these questions is losing out on an opportunity go to a less skilled and experienced candidate that does not hesitate to follow up or freely discuss achievements and accomplishments.
I have always believed that job seekers need to approach these situations the way sales professionals do, since in a job search one markets and sells his or her skills and talent to potential employers. Good sales professionals can’t say enough positive thinks about their products or services and never view themselves as pushy or an inconvenience when following up. Contrary to stereotypes, this is a sign of ego but their belief that what they sell will benefit the potential buyer. If you feel confident that your talent can benefit a company, never hesitate at any opportunity to speak with someone there about what you can do for them.