How to Follow up When the Company Doesn’t Make it Easy

Nicole wrote WorkSource to complain about how hard it is to follow up:

“Some companies make it impossible for you to do a follow up call after you submit your resume. Either they keep their company name private, they won’t take your call unless they have already called you. Is there any way to avoid this  – it’s so frustrating!”

Nicole – we agree – it is frustrating, but we don’t see an end to it any time soon.  Put yourself in the recruiter’s place for a minute.  They tell us that they receive an average of 100 – 200 applications for every job posting.  A great percentage of those applicants are more hopeful than qualified, which means that recruiters spend much of their time just looking for the few qualified applicants among all the hopefuls.  If they also answered calls from everyone who wanted to follow up, they’d never get anything done.

So now you know why they don’t make it easy to make a call.  What can you do about it?  I’m going  to assume that you’re spending your precious time and resources applying only for jobs that you’re a good match for, and that you’ve targeted and customized your resume to include key words to make sure the recruiter knows you’re a good match. (If you’re chasing opportunities you aren’t really a good match for, all the follow up in the world won’t help.) Likewise, if the company name is not listed, you probably shouldn’t waste time trying to track the posting down. 

But if you do know the company name, how can you find out what’s happening with a position?  This is where research and networking really pay off.  Part of your preliminary research into the company should include checking your network for possible contacts in the company.  The concept of six degrees of separation (also referred to as the “Human Web”) refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, “a friend of a friend”, on average, will connect any two people in six steps or fewer.

This is one of the best uses of LinkedIn. LinkedIn touts its ability to give you an “inside connection” to a company or job you are interested in.  When you follow a company on LinkedIn, you can see which of your connections are at that company or leverage your connections to help you find the right contacts at the company you are interested in. 

You can also use the Advanced Search to find a user by keywords or companies. You can directly contact users through inMails or request an introduction through one of your contacts if you have common connections.  The site also recommends that you use it to research your recruiters or interviewers. You can learn more about their background to have an edge over the other candidates.  Trying to get information from a recruiter is hard; if you’ve established a relationship with someone at the company (or ideally, the actual hiring manager) it can be much easier to ask about the status of the job.

Relationships take time, so you need to start now if you haven’t set up a LinkedIn profile or connected with professionals in companies you’re interested in.   Best of luck to you.

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