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Job Seekers: There Is a Fine Line Between Persistent and Pest

Hawaiian Art, yelling, pest, job seekers, persistent, follow up, careers

I recently ran across an article about job seekers following up after an interview. I was interested in it because I’ve written several times about how to follow-up after a job interview. Here are links to a few of the previously published articles:

How To: Follow Up After a Job Interview

Who To Contact After a Job Interview

Company Promised a Second Interview

What to Do After a Bad Job Interview

Anyway, back to the article. There was a sentence in it that said, “If you want to get the attention of a prospective employer, you may very well have to be a pest, a nice persistent pest but a pest none the less.” I totally get it and completely understand why the author wrote it. Candidates want the job. So, they’re anxious and excited. 

As an HR pro, let me offer some advice. Don’t be a pest. Not even a “nice pest”. Being a pest isn’t the same as being persistent. What job seekers want to do is be effective, efficient, and a good communicator. Candidates want to and should follow-up. But do not be a pest. 

That being said, let me reiterate the best way to follow-up and not step over the line from persistent to “pest” status:

Remember the goal of job search. I worked for an outplacement firm many years ago and we always told candidates the goal of a job search was to receive multiple offers. The key word being “multiple”. That means job seekers should be constantly working leads – multiple leads – in the hopes there will be multiple offers. I’m bringing this up because…

Don’t put all of your efforts in one basket. If the goal is to get multiple offers, then candidates shouldn’t be focused on one company or one job. Yes, I’m sure there are jobs that candidates really like. But if a company isn’t responding, there are other opportunities available. Especially in today’s job market with record low unemployment.

When you go to an interview, find out next steps. Then follow them. I tell recruiters that a candidate should never leave an interview not knowing

  1. When the company is going to make a decision
  2. Who to contact with follow-up questions
  3. How to follow-up (email, text, or phone).

If the recruiter doesn’t automatically tell you, ask the question. Then, once you know, do what the company asks. 

Now, if all of these considerations haven’t convinced you that “being a pest” may not be the best strategy, let me toss out one more thing. Do you really want to work for a company where you had to become a “pest” to get the job? Even a “nice pest” to get the job? When it comes to new opportunities, candidates should be interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing the candidate. And if it takes pesky behavior to land a new job, just imagine what the employee experience will be like. If you don’t like being overly persistent or pesky to get the job, then will you want to do it to get training, ask for a raise, or request time off. Enough said. 

Maybe it’s just my perception of the word pest, but when job seekers cross over to the pest category, they run the risk of organizations questioning their ability to follow the rules. This doesn’t mean candidates can’t contact the company or send a follow-up note. (They absolutely should.) Just be careful about going from interested and attentive job seeker to pesky candidate. 

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby somewhere off the coast of Havana, Cuba

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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