Why Won’t They Call Me Back?

Follow up is both an art and a science.  Jobseekers who want to get hired work hard at following up on leads and interviews.  Here are some tips for effective phone follow-up. 

  1. When you are in the meeting or interview, ask if you can call to follow-up.  There are actually two parts to this question: Is it OK for me to call and follow-up with you about (the decision, next steps, etc.)? And:  When would be a good time?  You may get a general answer like “around mid-week” or “after Tuesday.”   It’s almost unheard of for someone to say, “don’t call.”  If they do, they will follow it up with a promise to call you at a certain date and time.  Asking permission in advance means that the recruiter or contact will be more likely to return the call, since they gave you permission to call.
  2. Call when they are likely to pick up the phone.  I find that busy people are most likely to be at their desks early in the morning and late in the afternoon.  Remember your busy working life – most meetings start on the hour at 9:00, 10:00, 1:00 or 2:00.  Call between 8:00 and 8:30, or after 4:30 and you may find the person at his desk and inclined to answer.  Lunch time also works sometimes; busy people might use that down time to catch up on routine issues while everyone else is out of the office. It’s not foolproof, but it’s better than calling at 9:00, when business starts in earnest in most places.
  3. Leave a specific message.  Make sure you remind your contact about who you are and what lead or job you’re following up on.  It may be the only job you’re focusing on, but the recruiter might be managing dozens of jobs and candidates.  If you’re following up after meeting someone at an event, remind her of when and where you met. “We met last week at the chamber mixer, and you were kind enough to offer me an introduction to the hiring manager at ABC company.”
  4.  If you don’t reach your contact, call back politely until you do.  This Is the hardest advice to follow; but if you can manage it, it works almost every time.  If you get voice mail, leave a polite, detailed message (see #3.) Give it a few days or a week to allow for the possibility of business travel or vacation.  If you haven’t heard back, call again and leave another polite, clear message.  Call once a week until you get a call back.  It’s imperative that you never appear to lose your composure or seem annoyed at not getting a call back – that will be deadly to your cause.  Simply leave a weekly message at different times of the day and week.  Eventually, you’ll get something – whether it’s an email, letter or voicemail – that will acknowledge your efforts. 

You must be realistic – if your contact does not call for three weeks, the news is probably not what you want to hear; no one puts off delivering great news.  But if it’s closure you’re looking for, you can get it.  And if the decision has been postponed or changed, you will know where you stand.  Losing your fear of follow-up is a goal worth achieving, and practice is the only way to get there.  

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a call to make. 

2 thoughts on “Why Won’t They Call Me Back?

  1. Ellen McCreight Grant

    Thanks for this – I was just telling David that it looks like you are responding to my comment from yesterday’s post. Yay!

    As always, good advice. In my case, I followed every step you mention, except step 1, as we never got to an interview. However, I would have asked permission to call – I’ve had enough interviews in my working life to know what to do.

    I called at all times when I thought this person would answer – he was obviously screening his calls. And, I am always very specific when I leave voice mails – just follow the Golden Rule; I know that I appreciate it when a voice mail is clear, specific and short (unlike this comment!), so there’s no question as to the next step of action. Plus, the only reason I stopped calling was because I learned the truth about the position (from a higher-up in the company), so there was no future in continuing to call. Interesting side note – there was a reorganization and the person I was trying to reach is now in another department.

    I guess my biggest issue is with the simple lack of courtesy. I know that people are”busy” – I am too. But really, how hard is it to leave a short voice mail (if you don’t want to deal directly), or shoot a quick email? Not following up speaks volumes about the business and the people who work for it.

    The best way to walk away from this experience is to tell myself that it’s their loss, not mine. Too bad for them!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: