By Ellen Mehling, Career Development Consultant, METRO
Welcome to Asked&Answered, our monthly advice column in which Ellen Mehling, METRO's Career Services Consultant, answers reader questions.
Qs: I applied for a job I am extremely interested in, but have not yet heard from the employer. Should I go to the workplace in person with my resume or try to contact the hiring manager to show how interested I am?
A:There are good ways and not-so-good ways of standing out from the competition. It is understandable that you would want to convey to an employer that you are well-qualified and very interested in the position, but showing up in person or contacting the hiring decision maker directly are not going to communicate what you want to communicate. These tactics could even backfire and extinguish any chances you may have had for getting the job.
When employers give instructions for applying, they really do want applicants to follow those instructions. They have a procedure for filling the open position and submission of resumes/cover letters/applications is part of that; they are not going to look favorably upon an applicant who tries to circumvent the process. What you convey by not following directions is that you can’t or won’t follow directions, and that is not what employers want in a new hire.
Showing up in person and/or contacting the hiring manager indicates that you either don’t know what is expected (which is bad) or that you know and don’t care (which is worse). Such behaviors can also indicate desperation; job applicants who are not desperate don’t do these things. The strategies you mention are not assertive or proactive, but are simply inappropriate and ineffective. The employer decides which applicants to communicate with and interview, and when; this is not up to those who are interested in the job.
What if every applicant demanded the attention of the employer in these ways, when the employer had not yet expressed any interest in them? Human resources departments would have all their time taken up in responding to applicants, most of whom do not meet their interest.
Your best bet is to follow the instructions for applying and include examples of your relevant experience and accomplishments in the resume and cover letter. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position and your knowledge of that workplace, and focus on the employer’s needs for the job they are trying to fill. If there is someone in your network who knows you and your work, is known and trusted by the employer, and can put in a good word on your behalf, that may increase your chances of getting an interview, and is an acceptable, effective way (indeed, the best way) of distinguishing yourself from others who have applied.