Best ways to follow-up with potential employers


I'm and intern architect and I've been looking for a job, on and off, for about 8 months with little luck. Generally, what I've been doing is sending out a small packet with a personalized cover letter, resume, and 3 full-page images of my work.

I think I am lacking in my following up. If someone emails me back or offers to meet I will promptly respond. But I've been told that maybe it is time to be a little more aggressive in my following-up, such as sending multiple emails or calling the firm. I was wondering if others have had success with this strategy, and how do you do it without annoying them? How do you make potential employers remember you (in a good way)?

Sep 24, 09 3:57 pm

This is just one person's opinion - and I'm sure others will see it differently. But, as an employer, my view is that few firms are hiring right now. My own experience is that I receive about 5-7 unsolicited resumes every single day. I try to reply to all of those inquiries and generally do. But, based on the responses I receive to my replies, it's pretty clear I'm the exception - not the rule.

Many firms that aren't hiring can't be bothered with responding to unsolicited resumes. You can be offended by that, or you can move on. I'm not inclined to think any sort of aggressive follow-up in this market is going to change anything, unless you just get lucky. Firms that want to speak with you will reply. I don't want to demoralize you, but you're probably just wasting your time investing much effort in the others once you've submitted your credentials. Of course, YMMV.

Sep 25, 09 12:02 am

good question schatha.

i am in the same boat as you and it sucks. there's another thread on this subject. i would post it, but i don't know how.

i think that it's kind of like dating. you call a girl/guy once to see if they are interested. anything more than that and it just gets weird. sometimes, reciprocity is just too much to ask for in this day and age.

as far as following email asking if they received your email and reviewed it should suffice. if they have, then you should be able to get a response.

good luck in your search.

Sep 25, 09 12:54 am

We are receiving 3-5 unsolicited emailed resumes each day - I am trying to respond within the week to thos I am both interested in and not interested in but occasionally I get behind - in those cases, a follow-up email is fine to verify receipt of the resume/info. My preference is for applicants not to call but I know other ofices have different policies - good luck

Sep 25, 09 11:57 am

Someone correct me if this is just a rumor that got out of control, but I heard that when Mark Wamble was younger he stood at the doorstep of Eisenman's office until they let him in to start working there....

Even if that' not true, it could always be an option, just go home to shower and sleep each night.

Sep 25, 09 12:54 pm

Thank you all for your responses.

Blue- you are in the miniority there, few people do respond to unsolicited emails. But let me tell you, it is much appreciated on this end.

And yes, I think once you send a firm your resume then it is sort of in their hands. If they are hiring and they'd like to learn more about you, then they will contact you. That's why I haven't given in to calling or sending repetitive emails, because I think that would simply annoy people, and that's the last thing I want to do.

Sep 25, 09 1:00 pm

haha tagalong- I hadn't heard that before. I'll keep that in mind if I get really desperate.

Sep 25, 09 1:02 pm
Distant Unicorn

Will someone tell me if this is mildly unethical?

Is it okay to test the responsiveness of a potential employer by sending them an email under a pseudonym to see if they even respond to general inquiries not related to employment?

I used a francophonized or russianized variation on my name to see if firms will even toy with non-business related inquiries before applying.

Sep 25, 09 1:06 pm

Just out of curiosity Orochi what kind of general inquiries do you send?
I would never think to do that, but it might be an interesting way to gauge what the environment of the firm is like in general. Though depending on what you ask and who you send it to, someone might just think its weird spam or a joke, or you might end up talking to someone who would have absolutely nothing to do with the hiring process anyway, so your experience with that one individual might skew the overall picture of the firm.

Sep 25, 09 1:54 pm

Also, I dont think it unethical if you write from the perspective of someone just wanting to learn more about the firm (like a student might), but it would be unethical if you came to them from the perspective of a possible client. It would be wrong to lead them to believe that they would get business from you, and possibly cost them time/money when you have no intention of actually hiring them to design anything.

Sep 25, 09 1:59 pm
Distant Unicorn

Oh, I ask academic-ish/census-ish questions.

Like, "I'm a student working on a proposal for various business models in "such-and-such" field and I'm wondering if you would like to share the size of your office, the number of employees and how you would describe your office in relation to an urban context?"

A question looking for an obvious answer but it helps me to gauge if they have time to answer non-business questions, will they even respond to non-spam comments and I can get a sense of how under or over-staffed they are.

Even if I get a "Fuck You, that's confidential," I at least know someone is reading the e-mails.

Sep 25, 09 2:09 pm
brian buchalski

no, it's not unethical at all. this is a very competitive world and anything you can do to get what you need to survive (such as a job) is fair game. certainly there are others doing.

although i haven't heard of the wamble story specifically until now, i have heard of people showing up and basically waiting (for days sometimes) until somebody needed help & inevitably called them in. it's all about getting a foot in the door, literally. think about it...have you ever waited in an absurdly long line for something like concert tickets? how long (days? weeks?) would you being willing to commit to something like that that only last a couple of hours? by comparison it's a small price to pay for a job/career.

i've also heard of someone putting there resume in a package labelled "confidential medical records, to be delivered in person" and then posing as a courier and taking the package to oma to meet koolhaas in person.

and it's not just architect, an old baseball story that i remember was of ty cobb writing dozens/hundreds of letters from various fake people (being careful not to repeat handwriting styles) and sending them to a sportswriter. the writer eventually came to georgia to see this amazing young baseball phenom, wrote a story about him and cobb ended up with a contract to the detroit tigers and a hall of fame career. i would imagine that there are plenty of rock bands & business entrepreneurs with similar starts.

Sep 25, 09 5:06 pm
Distant Unicorn

I might actually change my real name to my french pseudonym!

Sorry for the mild derailment. But I figure it was relevant to the question of whether or not the follow up was even hypothetically possible.

Sep 25, 09 5:54 pm

on the original question... dude, you should definitely be following up. Here's the thing, there's a small number of people who are like BlueGoose and are paying enough attention and care enough that you don't have to and that's great on them. But then you're left with a whole pile of people who a) read your email but have no interest, b) read your email and thought "hm I'll keep him in mind if anything comes up", c) figured they'd follow up with you later (perhaps positively!) but got busy/distracted, d) didn't find the time to read it yet, or e) didn't actually receive your email. When you don't follow up, you are behaving as though only Bluegoose and scenario A exist, and that's just not the case. When you're looking for a job, it can take just one person in the latter scenarios to suddenly make things happen for you, and when you don't follow up you're letting them all slip away.

Orochi, I would say that yes it is unethical, because you are lying. You are using a false name and pretending to be a student, in other words completely misrepresenting yourself and your intentions.

Sep 25, 09 6:47 pm

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