When you're searching for a job, enthusiasm is a good thing. But some job applicants cross the line from enthusiastic and proactive to obnoxiously aggressive—and, in doing so, kill their chances at a job offer.
You have crossed the line if you are doing any of the following:
- Checking on the status of your application daily.
- Phone stalking: Calling, hanging up when you get voice mail, and then trying again half an hour later, and repeating this cycle over and over in the hopes of getting a live person on the other end of the phone.
- Cold-calling numerous employees in the same company.
- Misrepresenting why you're calling.
I recently had a woman leave me a voice-mail message implying that she wanted to discuss a particular aspect of the work my organization does. So, I asked the person who handles that area to call her back. It turned out what she really wanted was to ask him about jobs with us—which she didn't divulge until the end of their call. A day later, she did the same thing to two other people in my office. Her attempt to circumvent our clearly stated application process backfired—I sent an E-mail to our entire staff with her name in it, warning people about what she was doing. Her chances of getting a job with us now, after being misleading and wasting people's time? Zero.
I suppose there are some industries—bill collection?—where this sort of aggressiveness might go over well. But in general, you don't want to irritate the person who will be evaluating your candidacy.
Alison Green is chief of staff for a medium-size d nonprofit where she oversees day-to-day management of the staff as well as hiring, firing, and staff development. She is working with the Management Center to coauthor a book on nonprofit management. Her writings have been published in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Maxim, and dozens of other newspapers. She blogs at Ask a Manager.