“No phone calls, please” catch-22

Q. What would you suggest is the appropriate way to follow up a cover letter and resume sent via email? Generally when these are sent in response to a classified type ad, the ad says “No phone calls, please.” However the norm for firms seems to be to never respond to applicants at all. I find this trend very inconsiderate although understandable in the current economic climate. Is there anyway to get past the email wall and find out whether the firm is still hiring or not?

M. O., Belmont, MA

A. You’re trapped in a Catch 22: you’ve got a problem if you act and you’ve got a problem if you don’t act. If an employer says “No phone calls, please” what does calling say about your ability to follow directions? So, let’s take making a phone call off the table right away. One alternative is to do some sleuthing to find out the name of a person in the HR department who you can contact by email. Check the company’s web site and see if personnel are listed. Or, call the department and ask who you can contact and what their email address is. A third option is to work your network to see if anyone you know can give you the name of a person to contact.


The Emily Post Institute is seeing more and more articles in the news cautioning companies about leaving job seekers high and dry. Companies that don’t respond to job seekers–whether they’re answering a job posting ad or simply sending an unsolicited resume—are inconsiderate, rude and hurting themselves. It won’t be long before the message “Don’t bother applying at XYZ Widgets—they won’t get back to you” circulates among networked job seekers. The poor image they’re creating among job seekers can tarnish their reputation. In addition, the job seekers may one day be clients or prospects with good memories who may choose to take their business elsewhere.
Companies have a responsibility to communicate with all their constituencies and that includes job seekers. If a company tells you not to call and they don’t follow up, ask yourself, “Is this a company I really want to work for?”


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on