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Be Professionally Persistent

From Career Tips, 2019 Volume 3, March 2019

Iím often asked questions that start "When should I?" or "Is it too soon / too late to Ö?"

Most often, this means a serious mistake was already made.

  • When you email or leave a voice mail seeking a networking meeting, do you find yourself the next week wondering what to do about the lack of response?
  • When you send in an application to an opening, do you worry about when, if ever, you will hear back?
  • If you have what you thought was a good interview, are you left hanging, concerned about whether it will somehow count against you if you initiate contact?

    The solution to all three dilemmas is to practice Professional Persistence.

    When you leave a message, or submit an application, or are heading towards the end of an interview, you should always leave yourself a concrete action step with a specific date, perhaps even a time. Then you can simply mark your calendar and move on to other activities. If you havenít received the response you are seeking by then, follow-up.

    If you donít succeed in reaching the other party, leave an upbeat, professional message that betrays no frustration, anxiety or other negativity, expressing how and when you will next follow-up. If you donít succeed on the next follow-up, rinse and repeat.

    This is your search, or your networking initiative. Itís not the other personís responsibility to automatically respond, nor to make it easy for you. Itís your duty to push for what you want, but in a professional manner.

    If the other party says ďNo, donít callĒ, then respect that. If they say, ďI donít really have time to meetĒ, OK, donít pursue the meeting further at that time. But until you hear that, keep pressing for what you need.

    You might say, ďbut wonít the other person see this as pushy?Ē No.

    As long as you donít follow up after such a short window that it feels like stalking (like Harvey did here), or do it in a demanding manner, they will see it as being persistent. And persistence is a quality they may appreciate, which then can give you a greater chance of achieving your goal.

    This also gives you a chance to show that you are organized and do what you said, when you said you would do it. Thatís another quality that, when demonstrated, may make you a more attractive contact or candidate.

    The trickiest of the above is the application. Often that can seem like a black hole, and the application process may not provide a contact person or number to use for follow-up.

    However, as long as you have a company name, what stops you from looking them up and calling the switchboard? Ask for the HR department, and do your best to track down the person who is responsible for that job. You will almost certainly distinguish yourself from other candidates, since very few take that step.

    Oh, and if the application says Ďno phone callsí, or the interviewer said ďdonít call us, weíll call youĒ, and you donít hear anything after a reasonable time, Iíd call anyway. If they arenít responding, what do you have to lose? Just make it short and professional, along the lines of ďIím calling to check on the status ofÖĒ

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