Within the last week, I ran into two people I went to college with, one person with whom I travelled to Israel and, just last night, one person who I went to high school with, who I hadn’t seen in years. All of these were random encounters on the streets of DC I might add.
The interesting thing is, had I left wherever my starting point was a mere 5 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later, I would have missed all of these people. It’s not like I was heading to a place that I never visit or trying something new when I ran into them. It was simply a matter of timing: I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
This whole notion of timing is exactly what I tell applicants (and my friends for that matter). While we may not have any openings for the multitude of our qualified applicants, our workload/hiring needs/whatever could change at any given instant and if your resume happens to be seen at the exact second that something becomes available, then lucky you, you’ll be winning the human resources version of the lottery and getting a call. Sure, many HR offices (mine included) hold on to ALL of the resumes that they get and make special notes for which applicants that they want to keep in touch with, but if your timing is right, your chances of getting the return call go way up.
Even though everyone dreads the “Hi, I wanted to check on the status of my application” phone call (or e-mail), the fact that timing is so critical makes that check in unbelievably important. Be prepared to meet an exasperated HR professional on the other end of the line that feels some combination of irritation and pity and has to somehow tell you, “No, unfortunately nothing has opened since we last spoke”. But don’t let that be an excuse not to do it. Think about this like a Google search page: your application is on page 1 when you apply because it’s fresh and recently viewed, but if you don’t refresh it at any point in time, it’s going to keep on sinking to page 12 – and everyone always finds what they’re looking way before page 12.
Now, do keep in mind that the front line HR people (i.e. me) don’t want to talk to you every day or every other day. That would be madness. But calmly calling or dropping a line every other week will suffice. It keeps you on their radar without pushing them over the edge and your resume into the “Do not call back” pile.
Of the 4 people I ran into on the street, I’m planning on meeting up with 3 of them to catch up since we hadn’t seen each other in a while. I honestly hadn’t thought about any of them in a while, but after seeing them, I’m looking forward to finding out what they’ve been doing since we last crossed paths.
How’s that for good timing?