When Does Following Up Become Nagging?

Q. I need some help on how to deal with what initially was a very promising opportunity that has now gone ‘radio silent.’ After my meeting with the hiring manager, I received an email reply from her about how much she enjoyed our meeting, and that she would set up a second meeting with her team as soon as possible. That was almost a month ago and I’ve received zero responses to several follow-up emails. I don’t know how many follow-up notes are ‘too many,’ or what else I can do to get a response. When does a job seeker become a pest?

A. This is a standard problem for job seekers as well as hiring managers who become distracted with other priorities during a recruitment activity that isn’t deemed urgent. Job seekers take signs of rejection personally and sometimes it can be. I encourage you not to give up on these situations, and continue to show a positive attitude and understanding about the hiring manager’s other urgent needs.

Whenever you get to the interview stage, the ideal situation is to find out next steps before you leave the interview. It is important to understand the process, who else will be involved and the timetable for the entire search. After you ask if they have any concerns about your skill set in relation to the job, part of your ”close” at every interview should be: “I am very interested in this role and see a strong match between what you have said you need, and my skills. I know that I can make significant contributions to the organization. Can you tell me more about the process, the timetable and next steps?”

At any point, if you get the green light that you will be coming back, make it as real as possible for the interviewer. Tell them how much you are looking forward to returning and get an estimate of the date. Say, “Thanks, I am excited about coming back. Do you think that will be next week? Who will I meet with? Will you coordinate that, or would it be easier for me to speak with someone else? That’s great. So I’ll expect to hear from you by X date.” Expressing enthusiasm at this point is called for. Even after having used all of these encouragements, you may still be in a situation where there is no contact.
Some people think leaving a message that says, “I have tried you a few times, but I haven’t heard back is motivational; not so. No one wants to be reminded of something they didn’t do, and may have agreed to. Try a more positive, “I wanted to touch base about arranging my return meeting. We had discussed the week of X, which doesn’t seem to be the timetable now. I want to make sure I don’t miss anything and can make meeting as easy as possible as I am so interested in this role. Can you or someone else let me know where the process stands?” And ALWAYS leave your cell phone number and email address – even though you know they have it. Make it easy for everyone to reach out to you at every call and in every email. Always close with a ‘thank you,’ and a ‘I hope everything else is going well for you,’ or some other personal wish.
Things change, disappointment can happen, but your positive energy needs to come across at every opportunity.

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