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Ask Savvy: Should I Make Follow-Up Calls?

Dear Savvy,

Almost every job site I visit mentions how important it is to follow up a job application with a phone call. I have made a couple and feel like nothing came of them. I think the theory is to show employers that you are excited about the opportunity, but most simply confirm receipt of the application through a secretary. There are also a lot of job postings that don't want phone calls at all.

If I want to make one of these phone calls, what can I say to help the employer understand that I am at least a good candidate to interview? (I am entry-level and am worried that what experience/knowledge I do have doesn't come across through my resume or my carefully-crafted cover letters.) What else is there to say other than "I'm calling to check on the status of my application"? (On most of the sites I use, anyway, you can check the status online yourself.) And if they say not to call, is it okay to call anyway?

Thanks so much — all those sites that mention how important it is to make these calls never tell what to say in them!

To see my suggestions,


Dear Reader,

This question couldn't be more relevant considering the current job market and how hard it can be to get your foot in the door! We only get a few chances to make an impression on a potential employer before an interview, so my first suggestion is to put ample time into crafting, editing and proofing your resume and writing a convincing cover letter. You may fear your experience and knowledge don't come across on paper, but it's safe to assume everyone else applying for the position has the same anxiety. Keep your resume concise and include any leadership positions you have held outside of work to pad your experience. If there's an option to include a letter of recommendation ask your former employer, teacher, professor or adviser to speak for your skills.

When it comes to picking up the phone you have to make a judgment call based on the company. If the job listing included a contact phone number it's perfectly reasonable for you to call to inquire about the status of your application once. Call during business hours on a lower stress day of the week like Tuesday or Wednesday and plan what you will say in advance. Chances you will call the person in charge of hiring are slim, so be prepared to list the position title and don't feel like you have to express 30 reasons why you should be called back for an interview.

That being said, you mentioned most of the positions you applied for allow you to check your status online. Do not call if the job listing doesn't include a contact number or specifically says "no calls" or "email only." The person on the other end of the call will not be impressed with your Googling skills, and will be agitated you reached out when the listing advised against it. If you've applied electronically it's appropriate to reach out via a short email after a week to express your continued interest in the position. Make sure to forward the chain that includes your resume and cover letter so it is clear you have already applied.

Once you do get the interview I suggest following it up with a sincere handwritten thank-you note instead of a call.

Best of luck!


dikke-kus dikke-kus 8 years
Follow the advice of starangel82. It's not always good to call. I don't think the Internet is doing anyone any favors. The employers are bogged down with irrelevant resumes and shut their phones off. Their behavior to job seekers who are good candidates is frustrating and unfair. It's still the same in my city, it's who you know and not what you know. All that on line application stuff goes down the tubes because someone knows an aunt's son's best friend who could do the job for less. Is the Internet going to help anyone with that? I sincerely hope job seekers can use some old techniques, like stopping by in person with a smile.
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 8 years
This is great I'm getting ready to apply to two or three jobs (hopefully in a couple of days) and I was nervous. So I'm going to take this advice, thanks Savvy :)
Advah Advah 8 years
Thanks Savvy, I was wondering exactly the same. I've been sending my CV to various places for work experience lately, and followed people's advice by calling the place first. All it got me was a 25secs exchange with a very rude assistant/receptionist! At least it made me aware of the issue - now when people call me before sending their CV to my boss, I make a point of telling him about it and drawing his attention to specific points they mentioned.
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
You HAVE to send a follow up thank you, and I don't think it hurts to make a phone call. You can just ask if the position's been filled, what the next step is, reiterate your interest.
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
I get really annoyed when EMPLOYERS don't at least email you to tell you the position has been filled (or that they got your app). I know they probably have more applicants than they can handle, but I feel like a jerk for putting myself out there and then having to call when I know the position is probably already filled.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I think follow up email is best although I hate when you interview for a job and instead of calling to tell you that you didn't get it they just ignore your emails and calls and expect you to take the hint. So unprofessional...
mishegas mishegas 8 years
Heh-- looks like I had more to say :) : Tell your life story, and be creative, is what I'm trying to say. Be confident and show how you contributed to your last employers. Be personable and have fun. It's just a resume/cover letter/job -- kind of a flippant thing to say in desperate times like these, but if there's anything I have learned recently, in my own job search/bloodbath, it's that you can't stress too much about these things, and it's best to do them on your own terms. Again, good luck and best wishes.
valancyjane valancyjane 8 years
Personally, I hate getting follow-up calls (I hire interns for our department), and I wouldn’t make them if I were applying for a job. The only time I think they’re warranted is when you have something to say besides “did you get my application?” The ideal situation would be when you can offer new information – like, since you sent in your resume you’ve received an award or mastered a skill. (And in those cases I’d prefer to receive an e-mail or a hard-copy letter, so I can file it with your original application.) If your materials make you stand out, I’ll remember you; if not, your phone call is not going to help.
mishegas mishegas 8 years
Just a word of advice about "Experience/knowledge," since that caught my eye: I would not worry about your prior experience too much. What I realized when I graduated from college was that employers want to see that you are flexible, particularly at the entry level. I think the resume and cover letter should be treated as writing samples, rather than itemized lists of your skills and experience, and that flexibility and willingness to grow should be the qualities you emphasize in those documents. Hope this helps, and good luck in your job search.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i'm more of a fan of the email follow up rather than a call. i think that given that there are SO MANY people applying for each position these days, you have to do whatever you can to make sure that you stand out some how.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
Things that annoy me as a recruiter: 1. Calling when the ad clearly says no calls. 2. Calling every other day to check on the status of your application (sometimes persistence doesn't pay off). 3. Calling and getting angry with me when you don't get the job (I will flag your application for further jobs). Things that I like (and will get you brownie points): 1. A follow-up letter or email after an interview. A phone call is okay, but a written follow up is preferred. 2. If you do call and ask about the status of your application, make the call quick, concise, know what you want to say, and make sure you are in a place where you can be heard clearly. 3. Adding a cover letter to your resume (or application) addressed to me explaining your qualifications is always a good thing. I know that goes into more detail than the phone call, but I hope that might help you from a recruiter's POV.
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