my mother says I should call employers daily for an interview

A reader writes:

I am at my second semester of graduate school. In order to get an internship for next semester, I’ve been really working 24/7 for the past month. However, I still haven’t heard anything from employers yet and of course feel frustrated, as the deadline for join my school’s internship program is in three weeks.

My mother, who is staying with me now, has strong opinions and thinks I should call employers much more often than I am doing now. (I normally only call them before submitting the application to ask for more details and when the time they promised to come back to me has passed.) However, my mother believes that employers are rather busy and don’t have so much time to go through every resume, and since I have a not-that-outstanding resume, I should call them more often. Maybe if the person has so much to do and doesn’t want to bother with boring recruitment, they will just pick the one who always calls them. Therefore, I should lobby by phone more often (“every day” is what she thinks is a decent frequency).

I don’t think my mother knows so much about the job market, but I do think it makes sense that all applicants are somewhat similarly qualified with promising cover letters, so maybe it is one way to stand out, as it could impress HR more than a plain letter. What do you think? What would be a nice frequency to call up the companies, and what should I say? (Especially if I really am going to call every day, I wonder what to say.) Is it a good idea to be more private and ask the person about their own positions or background on the phone? Or will this backfire on me if the company gets irritated or annoyed?

You are hereby forbidden to take advice from your mother on anything job-related.

  • The correct frequency for calling to check on your application: zero
  • The correct frequency for calling before you submit an application: zero
  • The correct frequency for taking advice to annoy hiring managers with daily (!) phone calls: zero
  • The correct frequently for calling employers and asking about their own backgrounds, when they haven’t even expressed interest in interviewing you: zero

The vast, vast majority of employers do not want to receive phone calls from applicants. If they’re interested in interviewing you, they will contact you. If you call, you will annoy them. If you call more than once, you will really annoy them and risk having your application thrown out or at least marked as “pushy/annoying.” And if you call daily, you will be told to stop and will probably never get a job there, ever.

After all, most employers get hundreds of applications for every open position. Imagine if all those people called them, even just once. (To say nothing of every day.) By demanding their attention, you’re going to come across as naive at best and and rude at worst.

They know you’re interested. The act of applying conveyed that to them. They will get in touch if they want to talk to you. But you can’t force your way in the door, and they are not going to be impressed by you continually knocking on it.

Now, yes, there are some employers who are so disorganized that calling them can be enough to get them to look at your application when they otherwise would not have. But these employers are the minority, so while there’s the chance that you could hit on the random luck to help yourself with one of them, you will harm yourself with everyone else (and everyone else is in the vast majority). So the overwhelming odds are that this behavior will hurt your chances. (Plus, those disorganized employers who respond to random phone calls? You don’t want to work for them. They’re disorganized and chaotic and don’t know how to hire.)

If you want to stand out, you stand by being a highly qualified candidate with a compelling cover letter and a resume that shows a track record of achievement. That’s it.

I know that it’s tempting to want to find some other way of standing out, especially when you feel you have a “not that outstanding resume.” But employers are looking for the most qualified candidate who’s the best fit. They’re not looking for the loudest.

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