IN THE NEWS: Alice Waagen featured in article, "Watch out for signs you’re coming on too strong"

Jobseekers anxious for work are tempted to try anything to stand out from the crowd.

By Dawn Klingensmith
The Calgary Sun
January 8, 2010

Many career advisers warn that in today’s oversaturated job market, filling out an online application and waiting with fingers crossed to hear back is tantamount to hurling your resume into a black hole.

“Our organization recommends a phone call to the hiring manager before you send in your resume,” says Jay Hofmeister, co-founder of The Resume Bay and the Columbus, Ohio-based recruiting firm JEM Consulting Services.

Don’t count on your resume to speak for itself. Follow-up is essential if you want to make an impression.

Is it possible that a forceful job-search strategy makes the candidate appear pushy, overeager or off-putting? Taken to the extreme, yes. Even in a fiercely competitive job market, it is possible to come on too strong.

“The advice I always give my clients is to be persistent, but don’t be a pest,” says Haverford, Pa.-based career coach Ford R. Myers, author of “Get the Job You Want Even When No One’s Hiring” (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

“Employers can lose interest in an applicant for many reasons. One of those reasons is that the candidate came across as too aggressive.”

Typically, jobseekers don’t make enough noise, says career coach Marky Charleen Stein, president, Women’s Career Solutions, Los Gatos, Calif., and author of “Fearless Resumes,” (McGraw-Hill, 2009). “Most job seekers fear that following up more than once is coming on too strong,” she says. “They’re wrong. The only way that job seekers, in my opinion, are crossing the line is when the employer, hiring manager or administrative assistant specifically asks them not to call again.” Don’t call or e-mail more than three times a week. “With each follow-up call, ask when you can call back or propose a time to call back,” she says.

While Stein says employers will tell you when to back off, Myers says this isn’t always the case. They might just wad up your resume and keep putting you off until they fill the position. So he and other career advisers offer clues to help you determine whether you’re being too pushy. You might be seen as overly aggressive if:

• You ignore or try to circumvent protocol. If the job posting says not to call, don’t. Submit your resume online along with everyone else and e-mail the hiring manager instead, saying you applied through the normal channels so you seem cooperative.

“Mention a couple of highlights of your background to pique their interest,” says Pat Tourigny, talent acquisition manager based in the Windsor, Conn., office of ING, a global financial institution. Allow for a sufficient period of time for the hiring manager to review résumés before e-mailing again.

• You show up more than 10 minutes early for an interview. That’s an imposition on the hiring manager’s time schedule.

• You over-sell yourself or talk too much during an interview. “You should be asking questions, not just waxing poetic about what you’ve done and how great you are,” says Julie Greenberg, co-founder of San Francisco-based Jobnob.com.

• You overemphasize your availability.

• You hound internal contacts you have in the organization.

• You send more than a succinct thank-you note after an interview.

“Some applicants send flowers or candy. This is not a date – it’s a job,” says human resources consultant Alice Waagen, Workforce Learning, Herndon, Va.

• You follow up too soon or too often. At the end of an interview, “Don’t settle for ‘We’ll let you know’ or similar comments that place you in a passive position. Assume a more active role, and get a commitment from the employer for what comes next,” Myers says. That way, you’ll have a timetable and can plan an appropriate follow-up process.

You can’t take the hint. If you’ve left messages and e-mails and don’t get a response, that’s either a strong indication you’ve been rejected or that the hiring manager is “a poor manager lacking basic skills,” Waagen says. Time to move on.