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October 9, 2009
When Enthusiasm Borders on Stalking

There was a great article I read citing 6 reasons you might not get a response to an application.  It’s a great read and I’m so glad it was posted. I’m especially partial to reasons #3 and #4. As an op-ed though, I’d like to add a reason #7: You’ve made yourself a nuisance and won’t ever be hired here.

Before writing this, I asked a few fellow recruiters what topic I should cover and they came back with a resounding reply: “Stalking!”

The 6 reasons article reminds us that time simply isn’t on our side. There have been loads of lay-offs in many companies, but have you thought about which departments get hit first? It’s the non-billable ones (i.e. HR and Recruiting). Therefore, while there are hundreds more resumes coming in weekly, there are fewer people to review them and to handle the actual hiring process.

So how to proceed without becoming a nuisance?

1. Make sure you’ve read the job description several times. If you really fit the bill, apply. Meanwhile, tap your network for internal contacts in the hopes of being internally referred as well. Send a nice email (*attach resume and signature with portfolio/blog link, email address, phone number*) to the connection and thank them for being so kind as to forward it. You can otherwise call reception to ask for the email address of the internal recruiter or recruiting coordinator. Send that person said email with resume. Now wait.

2. If you don’t hear anything after 2 full weeks, ask someone in your field to read your resume and the job description to see if they see the fit. If they do and you’ve been busily investigating the company, getting excited by what they’re doing, send a snail mail resume and cover letter explaining your respect for the company and fit for the role. Address it to “Hiring/Recruiting” -- the mailroom knows where to deliver it. Now wait again.

If you do those three things and still don’t hear anything, as hotjobs said, they’re just not that into you and leave it at that. Don’t take it personally; there’s just someone else with a leg-up on you this time. Keep your eye on the company website for subsequent postings and start over in a few months if you feel so inclined.

NOW… what to do when you actually GET a response? Well, if it’s to tell you they’re interested, follow their instructions at this point, and good luck!

IF, however, the response isn’t quite as favorable, please take note of the following.

A vague “thanks but no thanks” response ONLY warrants a reply to thank them for the follow-up and let them know you would appreciate being kept in mind for future opportunities. (*If in 2+ months you see another role that matches your experience, apply to the role online and alert the recruiter by replying ever-so briefly to his/her original message from last time.*)

On the other hand, if any response from a company is more specific, read it carefully. Respect the contents. If you do not possess an adequate amount of one or more of the required skills, still send a “thank you” reply as instructed above, but DO NOT argue the point. I have NEVER seen this work in a candidate’s favor. Never.

If a company takes the time to tell you why they aren’t moving forward with you, please do not turn it into a back-and-forth, time-consuming, irksome dialogue. You may have what you think is a lot of financial services for example, but for this role, compared to other applicants, based on company needs, it’s not enough. You may have some digital under your belt, but as of now, not enough. The list goes on but the point is this: you can’t possibly know better than the internal recruiter and hiring team what they need, so let them do their jobs, be respectful of their time, thank them and move on.

Too many times I’ve seen candidates argue their qualifications. They try to convince us that we just need to give them the opportunity to learn and grow and prove what they can do. Time, money, and client patience are tight commodities – we need someone who can do this job, as it’s written in the description, today.

All “stalking” gets anyone is a bad rep. Recruiters warn one another about stalkers, about the candidates they should avoid. Stalkers wind up looking desperate and we all know, if you’re desperate, it means no one wants you. If no one wants you, you can’t be any good. I say this plainly because it’s a basic human truth. Humans want what we can’t have. It’s supply and demand. In retail, no one wants the last one. The last one finds it’s way to the clearance rack. Don’t put yourself on the clearance rack by appearing desperate.

This brings me to my conclusion and my op-ed reason #8 that you maybe haven’t heard back on a resume submission. It’s the fall-out of the stalker factor. Unfortunately, email has made it too easy for some people to stalk. Once these people have direct access to a recruiter, they abuse the privilege. As a result, recruiters have become skittish and afraid to make contact for fear it will result in having another stalker. Kind of like the housing crisis, a few bad apples have spoiled it for everyone.

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Joselle Spinoza is both a contract sourcer and a contingency recruiter (co-owner of ProCreative which specializes in the placement of advertising professionals from coast to coast, mostly in the digital space.) View her LinkedIn profile and follow her on Twitter. View more job-seeking tips and resources on her blog.

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