You must follow-up

A client recently called me to vent about the job market. He’s been a small and mid-market sportscaster for more than a decade but has struggled to earn bigger opportunities. I asked him what he was doing to follow-up his applications. His answer stunned me. In short, he said he doesn’t follow-up – that his ability should speak for itself and that he didn’t feel he should have to “brown nose” anyone for the sake of getting a job.

Wow! My jaw nearly cracked when it hit the floor.

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It’s called the job market for a reason. You have to market yourself. The top 15% of applicants for any job are all equally talented. What are you going to do to set yourself apart within that group? Many employers intentionally make the application challenging as a way to separate the industrious from the indolent.

6 tips for following-up your job application

1. Set a follow-up date

State a date at the end of your cover letter when you will follow-up with the employer, usually about one week later.

2. First follow-up via phone

Make your first follow-up via telephone. Employers want aggressive and confident, not idle and indifferent.

3. State why and what

In the follow-up call, whether you get the employer or their voicemail, state two things. 1) Why do you want to work for this employer? Do your research – find something different about this employer that is attractive to you. 2) State your relevant experience. What is on your resume that is a good fit for this position?

4. No calls please

A major market sports radio PD told me he suggests applicants call anyway. The personal contact can be invaluable in setting yourself apart. Some employers will immediately discount you for calling, but it is probably fewer than 10% and you likely wouldn’t want to work for such a rigid employer anyway. If the no calls request is in ALL CAPS, preceded by the word absolutely, or followed by an exclamation point, don’t do it.

5. Be politely persistent

Keep your name in front of the employer on a weekly basis until the position is filled. Make them tell you no. The best way to do this without being annoying is to be creative. You don’t have to be outrageous – just unique.

6. No more calls

Only your initial follow-up should be via telephone. It’s obtrusive and takes more of the employer’s time. Subsequent follow-ups should be via email, snail mail or smoke signal – anything but telephone.

2 things to never do in your follow-up

1. Ask for a reply

Employers are among the busiest people in the sportscasting industry. Many of them are annoyed when job applicants whom they don’t even know ask the employer to call them. Trust me – they’ll call you if they’re interested.

2. Ask for a critique

Your reason for contacting an employer is to ask for a job, not for a critique of your work. Asking for a critique in your job application shows a lack of respect for the employer’s time and can indicate you lack the necessary experience for the position.

If you aren’t following these simple guidelines for the sportscasting job market, then you have no one to blame but yourself if your phone isn’t ringing.

Photo credit: Johan Larsson via photopin cc