Should You Call After Sending a Resume? Others Say No (and other considerations)

Receiver of a blue phoneYesterday, I shared part of a discussion that I had with leading career experts about the advice to “Follow up with a call after submitting a résumé.” As with any debate, there is more than one opinion about what to do. Here is the rest of the conversation and some final thoughts.

While some folks still advocate for a call as a good way to follow up a résumé submission, others believe that piece of advice is not as useful as it once was.

Phyllis Mufson, a personal coach and career consultant, said, “It depends,” but tended to favor not calling because of the disruption it provides.

Heather Coleman-Voss, a career coach and instructor at the Ferndale (MI) Career Center, agreed with Phyllis and had this to say:

“Phone calls are extremely disruptive [for instructors] during the work day. As a matter of fact, my co-facilitator and I specifically request from our customers a message via Facebook or LinkedIn… I appreciate this approach myself, as when I am phone interviewing I need to schedule specific times. Additionally – any candidate who is able to showcase the more sophisticated methods of social media communication is also displaying a higher level skill set and networking capabilities; also, this shows respect for my time and schedule.”

Heather makes several good points for why a phone call is not the best approach:

  • It doesn’t work well for her industry. That makes sense. When instructors are in the classroom, they can’t just take a break to chat for a couple minutes with someone who submitted a résumé; then, when they have a moment at their desks, they need to design lessons/curricula, grade assignments, take appointments with students, catch up with email, and so on. Think about how this might pertain to your field.
  • Using Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to follow up shows that you are using social media.
  • It doesn’t give consideration for what the other person may be doing when you call. In essence, a phone call is akin to knocking on someone’s door and asking, “Do you have a couple minutes?” while plopping down in a chair.

Kristin Johnson, who yesterday agreed that having a “warm contact” makes the calling easier, also had this to say:

“I think most other professionals have a sense of dread when the phone rings. It’s a time suck for them. I would recommend any job seeker to be cognizant of that fact and find another way in.”

Cultural Differences

Jacob Share of JobMob (based in Israel), had a good point:

“This is a very cultural thing. In the States, time is money and most everyone suffers from information overwhelm, so the tendency is toward time-saving and being able to file and organize. Here in Israel, the pendulum has swung back after already going through a few years of automated calls and texts, and calling is still an important way to get through to the right person.”

The importance of this cannot be understated: make sure you know the cultural norms of the country in which you are job seeking. Particularly if you are moving to a different country, having a solid understanding of the current expectations and practices will go a long way in facilitating your job hunt.

What about the BLACK HOLE?

Of course, the uncertainty of not knowing what is happening is hard for job seekers. Making a phone call and talking to a live person can garner you a response on the spot. But, is making such a call to force an immediate response necessarily going to work in their favor? Or does it hurt their chances?

Hannah Morgan doesn’t think it would be a problem:

“It depends on their tone of voice, politeness, respect, style, attitude, all that stuff that gets rolled into a first impression. Unless the company says ABSOLUTELY NO CALLS, which many times is stated, my advice is to try calling at least once and see what happens… I wouldn’t leave a message. I encourage each job seeker to take control of the follow up. Leaving a message requires someone to call you back. What are the chances?”

There are starting to be other options for finding out the status of your application; for example, StartWire has created an application that lets candidates know if they are being considered for a job. If you apply for a job that is using this system, it eliminates the need to call a prospective employer simply to find out if you are being considered for an interview.

There are compelling reasons, both pro and con, regarding a phone call after submitting a résumé. As you are weighing what choice you make on the matter, keep these things in mind:

  • Your network
  • Your strengths
  • Your industry
  • Alternative ways of contacting
  • Cultural norms
  • Whether a company is using technology to alert candidates

The combination of those factors will lead you to make the choice that resonates best with you and your particular situation.

Image courtesy of UggBoyUggGirl

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  1. Jacob Share
    Twitter: jacobshare

    This came out really well. Nice work, Melissa

    • Melissa Cooley
      Twitter: TheJobQuest

      Thank you, Jacob! And I really appreciate your contribution to this discussion. It helped to bring in other things that job seekers should look at when deciding what to do in this situation.

  2. Melissa,
    This is a great two-part article – excellent work, interesting debate! Thank you for including me!


    • Melissa Cooley
      Twitter: TheJobQuest

      It is an interesting debate, Heather! The perspectives that everyone brought really made this a rich discussion and emphasized that the choice that is made in this regard is not one-size-fits-all.

      Thank you so much for adding your voice to this conversation!

  3. Sunitha Narayanan
    Twitter: sunithanaraya

    Great topic and discussion–thanks for all the sharing and collegiality. We recently had a HR panel come in to talk to us and they were divided about phone calls. Goes to show that there is no right or wrong way to conduct a job search.

    I do encourgae people to call at least once and will also suggest that they leave a message ONLY IF PREPARED WITH A SCRIPT. Another idea that seems to work 7/10 times is to make this follow-up statement a bit different. When asked, most clients tell me they usually call to ask whether the employer has received their resume–that is a serious time waster. So, asking what is the outcome you want might help you use (or not) this strategy. So, for example, if you clearly said your name, position you have applied for and added a piece of research that might be relevant and said you will follow-up via email–that might work better–it has for several of my clients.

    Melissa & All–I think you all hit it right when you say, “one size doesn’t fit all.” And that I believe is the beauty of life and our work–so find a way that works for you, fits your personality best and allow that to shine through all marketing pieces. Make it a great day!

    • Melissa Cooley
      Twitter: TheJobQuest

      Thanks for your comments, Sunitha! I like your suggestion for using a script when following up. It’s too easy to stumble over one’s words without it, which can make the candidate sound less competent. Also, it helps jog their memories so they hit all the key points they want to make.


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