If you’re a job hunter, you’ve probably heard countless times the importance of taking initiative and networking regularly. The problem is, what is effective networking is highly situational and often open to interpretation. Taking initiative could mean getting noticed at one company and annoying the other. There is a fine line between going after the job of your dreams and turning off hiring managers, recruiters, and the contacts you’re asking to help you.
Consider this common scenario: You submit an application to a job you’re really excited about. It’s been a week and you haven’t heard back. You start to worry you didn’t submit the forms correctly. Did they even receive your resume? Should you email the recruiter to confirm they received it never, once or twice?
The answer is first check your email (including spam folder) to see if you received an auto confirmation that the application was received. If not, double check the sent folder and verify the email you used is the correct email from the job listing. Resist immediately emailing the busy recruiter. It will not help you stand out and won’t result in an impromptu interview. If you choose to email multiple times you definitely risk crossing the line from initiative to irritating.
The problem is this fine line exists at every step of the job-search process. It’s difficult to know when you should communicate to show assertiveness and interest, and when you should pull back before you become a bother, or worse, tarnish your chances of getting the job. Before sending that email, reaching out on LinkedIn, making that phone call, or writing that letter, ponder these questions:
Am I following directions?
It’s a simple, but too often ignored, point: follow the application instructions. If the instructions say no calls or emails, just don’t do it, no ifs, ands or buts.
Would I want to hire myself?
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and ask yourself this question. There is only one chance to make a first impression, and if yours is aggressive and overbearing, you can’t get that back.
Is my networking request simple and specific?
When networking, make it easy for someone to help you. Instead of just stating you want help getting a job at their company, go a step further and share a job listing of interest there and draft up some points about your matching experience. Then it’s easy for them to connect you to someone directly. Be polite, yet specific about what would help you.
Am I being patient?
It’s hard to be patient, but the last thing you want is to seem desperate. Recruiters are limited to their organization’s timeline and there’s not much they can do to hurry things along. Recruiters want to fill jobs, and if there is a delay, it’s likely not because they are dragging their feet. It’s because something else is holding them up, so have the grace to leave them alone.