How Many Irons (Job Applications / Prospects) Do You Have in the Fire?

A kind reader responded to last week’s post on job candidate stalkers:  I think we need more advice out there about how to finesse this line between “following up” and “stalking.”

Instead of advising you how to finesse the line between following-up and stalking on any one job, I’d like to repeat the advice from the article I quoted and emphasized last week:

5.  Keep up the momentum.  Regardless if you gain traction with this role, continue applying to jobs online, pursuing opportunities through networking, and engaging with recruiters each week to maintain an active job pipeline. This will help stop you from dwelling on one job, as well as improve your chances of landing the right job.

I also realized after thinking a bit more about Kind Reader’s comment, that many of you did not have the benefit of my salesman father’s mentoring (noodging) as you embarked upon your careers.  I truly feel the pain of the 2009 / 2010 graduates:  like you, I graduated that summer into a heinous recession with virtually no entry-level jobs for college grads, much less this particular college grad with a fresh English degree who had the utter gall to want to write for a living.  I felt fortunate that upon graduation, I had two part-time jobs that allowed me to remain in Albany, New York:  one, working part-time for my home Assemblyman’s Albany office where I had spent my senior-semester internship; and the other, working part-time at Macy’s in the Lingerie department.  The part-time Assembly job was set to end December 31st, so I needed to get some sort of a full-time job with benefits before year-end.  

And if memory serves me correctly, my father called me every day.  First, to harangue me about staying in Albany post-college.  “When are you going to come back to New York City and get a real job?”  he’d demand.  I’d sigh and explain that the cost of living was much less and the standard of living was much higher north of NYC.  After 10 minutes of long-distance nagging, the real benefit of his coaching began.  For to this day, not only is my father a great salesman, he is great at getting hired.  Dad’s birthday is New Year’s Eve, and he acts and looks like a man at least 20 years younger.

“I sent in an application to this great job for a marketing copy writer,” I began.  “I really want this job Dad, and I haven’t heard back from them in a week.”   I was speaking to my daddy, so a bit of a whine creeped in.  Whining was not an option with Marine-trained Dad.  “Have you called to follow up and tell them that you’re interested in the job,” he’d quiz.   “No, I don’t want to be a pest,” I replied.  “Call them once and confirm that they’ve received your application and that you’re interested.  And then move on, ” Dad instructed.

Similar to the advice from the article I quoted in last week’s post:

1.  Give it a week. Follow up approximately one week after the job application deadline (if listed). This gives the recruiter enough time to review the resumes. If the job posting didn’t list an application deadline, the rule of thumb is to follow up one week after your initial application.

2.  Read the fine print. If  the description states “no phone calls,” do not call to follow up. If you do, the recruiter will think that you cannot follow simple directions or did not read the job listing carefully. If the job listing didn’t state such a condition, call once and ask how to follow up again before doing so.

3.  Ask informative questions.Whether you’re sending an email or calling the recruiter, your communication needs to sound confident – not desperate. Ask questions that will help you understand your chances of gaining traction with this job. Inquire if any decision has been made, and ask if it’s acceptable to follow up in another week if you haven’t heard back from them, as well as determine the timeframe for the hiring process.

And then he moved into high gear.  “You shouldn’t be dwelling on one job prospect, anyway,” Dad continued.  “You should have as many irons in the fire as possible, to increase your chances of getting an interview.”  Fresh out of college, I didn’t get his drift at first.  “What do you mean by ‘irons,’ I’m confused.”  Dad spelled it out for me.  “Getting a job is just like getting a sale from a customer,” he coached.  “If you make 30 calls and get one sale, you’re having a good week.  So if you make 30 calls, or have 30 networking meetings, or put in 30 applications, or all three, and you get one job:  well,  you only need one job.  Those are the irons in the fire.”

I did not respond immediately, as I was absorbing his explanation.  Dad does not like silence.  “So, here’s your homework:  you need to make at least 10 calls a day, and schedule one face-to-face meeting a day.”  He instructed.  Blech, I thought.  “Really Dad?  That’s a lot of work.”  Dad does not like any hint of insubordination.  “Do you want a job, or do you want to come back home?”  Without missing a beat, I replied:  “Okay, I’ll do it.”

And so I loaded up my fire with many irons, via job applications, networking meetings and phone calls.  And thanks to Dad’s good advice, I secured my first career job before the end of the year, with the equally good help of my network.

So, whether you’re prospecting for a new job or new clients, are you making at least 10 calls a day, and setting up at least one face-to-face meeting a day?  When you get tired and/or discouraged, are you remembering that if you make 30 calls and get one sale (or one job), you’re having a good week (or year)?   How many irons do you have in the fire?

2014-07-25 19.26.58



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