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Thread: To call or not at all...

  1. #1
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    To call or not at all...

    ...this is my question:

    When sending applications, do you call to follow up on the application (i.e., check the status) or do you simply wait until you hear something?

    I'm looking for my first job. I just finished gradschool and all, and am new to the job search thing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Also, are there any of you who would be willing and interested in doing a resume and cover letter critique? If so, please send me a private message. I'm very grateful to receive any help/advice.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 13 Aug 2004 at 7:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    If you call me before the interview to check on application status you go to the bottom of my list. It doesnt relfect a go-get 'em attitude to me, it reflects on impatience and planners must have patience!

    If you call me between the first interview and second interview it should be for good reason, like, "I forgot to ask [this very important question]". And it better be a good one!

    That said, I will gladly critique your cover letter and resume. I'm not as harsh as this post may have come across (usually)

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I would not call until at least after the interviews.

    However, a reasonable question during the interview might be "when do you expect to make a decision" or "when would you expect the new employee to start/relocate to the city?" Give them some time becuase things may fall through with the #1. You might call a little later on to see if those interviewing you could set aside some time to give you some feedback on how to improve your application/interview since you are a brand new planner without much experience. Most people, if they are not too busy, would be happy to give a young planner some advice. Please, some of you more experienced planners correct me if I'm wrong on this.

    Even though I'm a really young planner, I got really great comments on my resume & cover letter. I would be glad to give you some feedback too, though I'm sure other planners on this board would probably be a lot more helpful than me in that regard with all of their experience!

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Bold. Hmmm, someone is uptight/anxious. Don't call unless you don't want the job.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    Since I see that you are in the DC area, if you have applied to Fairfax County, don't call, they will call you. They almost discount you out of the running if you do call them. Very strange place.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Like everybody else, don't call. there will be no positives, and perhaps some negatives, it you do.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    At my current job, I've learned to always call after sending anything to ensure that the person got it, but I've never done that with a resume.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    DO NOT CALL. I cap'ped because I mean it strongly. That may be appropriate for an unskilled job, but it is not expected or desired for a professional position. It isn't unusual to get 40-50 applications for a position. Do you really think that your potential employer wants to answer a call from everybody? Most won't even send you a rejection letter.

    If your credentials fit the position, if you stand out as a potentially good choice, and if you have sent a good cover letter indicating some knowledge of the position or community, they will contact you.

    Now, there is an exception. If you know somebody in the organization who is respected and who is willing to advocate for you, you may ask if s/he will keep you abreast of the hiring schedule.

    Echoing Chet's offer, I would be happy to critique your resume and cover letter if you would like.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    I have and will never call. There are some resume black holes out there that you will never hear from. I think it's rude...even a form letter would be fine...but expect not to get anything back if you do not get a call. Also, it's not unusual for someone to post a job and take a few months to get around to doing interviews, especially in planning because most of us are bogged down with some report or doing site plan reviews or whatever. I too have been given good marks on my resume and cover letter and still do not always hear back.

    If you are anxious, consider looking at other jobs as well. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket and hope for one particular job. I'd say for every 10 resumes I sent out in my last hunt, I heard from 3 of them. It's a tight market for planners right now because the economy is eh and municipal budgets have been axed to limit tax hikes and so go budget cuts, so go planners.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  10. #10
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    A minority viewpoint

    I always state in my cover letter that I will call, and then I do.

    About 60% of the time I end up talking with the person making the hiring decision, and that's generally been a positive connection to make.

    BTW - my SO is a career counselor, and she's always advocated this approach. Stating that you'll call and then doing so shows both initiative and follow-through; both are possitive traits in often looked for in an applicant.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  11. #11
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    That is an interesting approach. My cover letter instead states that "I look foward to hearing from you about this opportunity in the coming weeks."
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  12. #12
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    I agree with SGB

    I usually try to make contact with the person hiring for the position, usually 2-4 weeks following my resume submittal (but nothing after that -- dont drive people crazy, just one call). It has been my experience that this begins a relationship with the employer and you are no longer just a name on a resume. I have been sucessfully hired when doing this -- and it shows that you level of interest is high.

    I worked in Metro DC a couple of years ago and sent out tons of resumes when I first arrived. 99% of the time I never got a response back --- but when I was able to make contact with the employer I got job offers.

    Also if you speak with the HR office they can give you good feedback on what they are looking for -- and this advice may get you past the first "cut", since HR usually reviews the applications first -- and then passes the qualifed applications onto the person hiring.

    Maybe its just a fluke --- but maybe not. It probably depends on the employer.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Interesting. I always assumed it shows I am an "ambitious go-getter" and sometimes I just want to know whether to cross a position off of my list. I would only do it after at least a month of not hearing anything.

    What about thank you letters after an interview? I usually resist sending them because I think they're kind of creepy. But maybe I should start being more of a brown-noser up front. One more rejection and I'm going to start sending fruit baskets and washing cars in the town hall parking lot.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    What about thank you letters after an interview? I usually resist sending them because I think they're kind of creepy. But maybe I should start being more of a brown-noser up front. One more rejection and I'm going to start sending fruit baskets and washing cars in the town hall parking lot.
    DEFINITELY send a thank you note. In addition to reminding the interviewer of what a great catch you would be, it is a good opportunity to mention anything you forgot in the interview (The supervisorial responsiblities we discussed are particularly interesting to me as I have served as a manager for several years....) and reinterate your interest in the position (After having a chance to discuss the position and meet the team, I am even more enthusiastic about the possibility of employment with your firm.... etc. etc.).


    Good luck in your job search.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Plus
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    A bit OT but related really

    Bad experience - After being interviewed
    waited 2-3 weeks still had not recieved any notification one way or another.
    don't remeber if I sent the Thank-you for the interview note. (situation was 12 yrs ago)

    Called, they sounded all like, oh yes we made a decision, didn't anybody contact you - no not yet, oh so sorry, but you should have been.
    Last edited by JNA; 16 Aug 2004 at 1:16 PM.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    From what I can tell, I am one of the heavy weight contenders around here for job interviews/hunting.

    I never call after the resume goes in, I have been involved with interviewing people and it really annoyed me when people did call. Why, it wasted my time and for the most part did not add anything to their qualifications or presentation. Remember patience is a virtue.

    Thank you letters, never. Why? About half the people who I've taken the time and $$$ to to interview with have not bothered sending me a letter saying PFO, shows how highly they valued the interaction.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  17. #17
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Calling 1-800-GOO-DBYE

    I the job involves a hairnet, shovel, or nametag calling is a good idea. Otherwise, see most of the above answers.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk

    Thank you letters, never. Why? About half the people who I've taken the time and $$$ to to interview with have not bothered sending me a letter saying PFO, shows how highly they valued the interaction.
    I know what your're saying, but I still think a thank you is good practice. I applied for a job once and their website actually says only those invterviewed will be contacted. I think that is so incredibly rude. If you take enough time to send in an application and resume for a position that you are definitely qualified for, they should at least have the common courtesy to let you know they aren't interested. Of course this is the same place that puts all their job openings on their website but then states in big letters that the application is not available online and you can't email a request to have one sent to you. How freakin' hard is it to put up an application in PDF?
    He's a planner, he's a dreamer, he's a sordid little schemer,
    Seems to think that money grows on trees . . .

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    I fall somewhat in the middle of the views expressed here. I will often call before applying to feel the town out. Sometimes even visit. I usually want to stay out of bag job type situations, like if there is an assistant planner in place who should get the job - I believe in promoting from within before hiring from without.

    Once I have applied for a position, if it is by mail, I will follow up about a week later, before the application deadline, to be sure my resume was received. I always want to give myself enough time to hand deliver a resume if the original did not arrive.

    After that, I usually wait for a phone call or follow up letter from the prospective employer.

    Once, however, when I had had finalist interviews in competing towns and had an offer from one town I did call the other town to see how near a decision they were. At this point I felt I had the leverage since I was ready to accept the offer I had in hand and did not have to worry about turning off the other prospective employer.

  20. #20
    I would echo the comments that say not to call before the first round of interviews. If after the 1st interview there is a huge lapse in time (believe me, I have experienced lapeses of over 1 month) than I think it would be ok to call just to check the status of the search, but don't pester them. If you are going to make any calls prior to the first interview, I would say you can call before the application deadline and chek and make sure they received all of your materials and if they need any additional materials.

    Resume and Job search books always tell you to call because it shows you really want the position and supposedly "gets your name recognized" but in the professional world I think the fact that you spent the time to assemble a resume and cover letter demonstrate that you are interested in the job.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  21. #21
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    About half the people who I've taken the time and $$$ to to interview with have not bothered sending me a letter saying PFO, shows how highly they valued the interaction.
    Off-topic:
    What's PFO mean?
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  22. #22
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by GeogPlanner
    Off-topic:
    What's PFO mean?
    PFO = "Please F!@# Off"
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  23. #23
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    I thought there was an expletive deleted in there...


    As for Thank You notes, I always send one. I take the high road. Even if I turn down a job I send one as a positive networking practice.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  24. #24

    TO call or not to call...

    Quote Originally posted by GeogPlanner
    Off-topic:
    What's PFO mean?
    "Please Fark Off."

    I graduated last year and went through your dilemma. I am a calling advocate, but then again I tend to short-curcuit the process and apply BEFORE any position actually appears in the newspaper or what not. As you know, 95% of all new jobs out there are never posted. What I did when I graduated and wanted to move to the west coast was call around and set up information sessions with people - to learn what opportunities were upcoming with them, find out about job prospects in the area, that kind of thing.

    I had a 97% success rate when calling someone and asking if I could buy them coffee and pick their brain. When I flew out there, I had lots of interviews set up and lots of contacts, and was able to fly through. Every single person, after meeting with me, asked for my resume - I never offered it up front. I asked each person for a few names of people they thought I should call, one thing led to another, people talked to each other, and now I'm working as a planning consultant in a great job.

    In my experience, calling consultants before hand met with the greatest reception, and following up with them was also very key. WIth municipal clients, not so much. They are harder to get a hold of, and definently are much more pressed for time. I think its the nature of the business. Being a consultant forces you to be much more outgoing and enthusiastic, and open to meeting every opportunity - and who knows? That person coming through the door might have ther very skills you need to win a proposal or add depth in a key field. I think if you DON'T call a consultant and just sit back to wait, you're sunk.

    So, the point of this rambling message - choose your target, because the strategy is very different for private and public sectors. Call the private companies, and make a connection with a human being. With public, hope and pray you sneak past the HR, but I don't think it EVER hurts to put a face to a name in the planning department. And if they are put off, ask yourself if you really want to work with them?

  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by Spatial_Monkey
    As you know, 95% of all new jobs out there are never posted.
    I think with planning it is a little different if only because municipalities and other units of government usualy have ordinances that require them to post job ads.

    Spatial Monkey, I think that a lot of people would be too scared to do what you did. I know I would have a hard time calling up people to meet for lunch like you did. But I think that your approach was awesome and when you are a consultant that type of comfort level and skill is very very important because at some point you will need to go out and meet with potential clients Your approcach showed the consultants that you would be very comfortable setting up meetings with people to drum up business. If you can sell people on yourself like you did they figured you can probably sell the company too.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

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