Elizabeth Lions is a former recruiter – she might say "recovering recruiter" – who teaches and consults with engineers on job hunting. She’s also the author of Recession Proof Yourself, an advice book that’s notable for its straightforward logic.
Like a lot of people who coach people on jobs and careers, Elizabeth listens to people vent. Recently, she wrote me:
The most common complaint I hear from engineers nowadays is that they don’t hear back from employers after applying for a position. On top of leaving them confused and frustrated, this silence leaves them wondering why they weren’t selected for the job.
While engineers are usually solid at "finding positions online and researching companies to make sure they’re suited for the technologies and products they deal with," Elizabeth says when it comes to next steps, they often fall short.
E-mailing resumes makes rejection easier for the candidate and allows them to avoid any confrontation with the employer if they aren’t a good fit for the job. This tactic of taking the easier road doesn’t produce maximum results.
In other words, they don’t follow up, or if they do it’s by e-mail. The problem with such an arm’s-length approach it that it works both ways: While it allows candidates to maintain a certain distance, it allows employers to remain aloof, as well. You may not think so, but managers aren’t all on fire to give you bad news, even if they had the time to respond to every application personally. They’re receiving hundreds of resumes nowadays.
So how do you get traction? Here’s Elizabeth:
I suggest getting your conversations, applications and resumes out of e-mail and becoming a person. After you submit your resume, pick up the phone and talk to a manager directly. While engineers may not be natural sales people, this is a critical step into actively starting a job search rather than being a passive candidate who continues to get rejected.
In the world of e-mail, it’s easy to forget what a professional business relationship looks like and how to develop one. As a job seeker, you’re not out-of-line to call an employer and ask if they’ve received your resume. While you’re at it, ask about their hiring process and the steps involved. You’re not asking for an interview. You’re simply asking for information as to your status in the process. Request feedback on your resume and try to learn if they think you’re a good fit. Listen. Don’t challenge their responses. Understand this is a time to learn from the experience and practice the cold call. Yes, it will feel uncomfortable at first. But you’ll know where you stand, and you’ll feel more in-control over the job hunt.
Go back and read that last paragraph again. As a job hunter, you’re developing business relationships, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to create a conversation in a professional way.
— Mark Feffer