S.W.F. Seeks J.O.B.: Make Your Job Hunt Persistent, Not Pathetic

S.W.F. Seeks J.O.B. is our monthly career advice column penned by Judy McGuire, a sex and relationships expert who also happens to be hilarious. Judy will help us understand how the rules for dating and job hunting are a lot alike–and how the victories in one part of your life can be applied to the other.

Although I don’t completely buy the adage that we only want what we can’t have, it is a fact that whether you’re wooing employers or a trying to reel in a new special naked friend, holding back a little goes a long way towards drumming up interest in your ass. As that wise sage Madonna once sang, “It’s human nature.”

For example, following up a first date with a next-day call, text or e-mail is showing interest. It tells your date that you had a good time, you’re interested in seeing them again, and you’re not the type of mental midget who bothers living by some arbitrary three-day rule. Conversely, professing your undying love, purchasing bridal magazines, and changing your Facebook status after just one night out (even if you got lucky) reveals that you’re not only pathetic, but a sad sack with stalkerish tendencies as well.

Likewise, sending a post-job-interview thank-you card or e-mail is not only good manners, it shows you’re serious about seeking employment. However repeatedly e-mailing (or calling, or texting) and then Facebook-friending a potential employer tells them several things . . . none of them good:

  • You obviously have no boundaries. You’re the chick who’ll take her top off at the company picnic or the guy who’ll want to discuss with clients that itch he has. You can’t read people, and even if a hint had a handle, you still wouldn’t be able to pick it up.
  • You don’t have much going on. Even if you’re unemployed and living on grammy’s sofa, you should at least pretend to engage in other activities beside emptying out her fridge and obsessively watching Judge Judy. Have a little pride, bub.
  • Speaking of which, you’ve got no game. Presentation is key, and if you can’t “fake it til you make it” during a job search, what are you going to do when the copier breaks or the receptionist calls in sick? Get it together!
  • Nor do you have any social-media savvy. Friending your boss is like friending your booty-call’s mom or your cousin, the nun. Ill-advised and eventually–inevitably–deeply embarrassing.
  • So what do you do? For some pointers on navigating this minefield, I contacted Michelle Goodman, ABCNews.com career columnist and author of The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, and asked her for some pointers.

    “Don’t call back repeatedly,” she said firmly. “You’ll sound like a high-maintenance psycho and ruin any chance of getting hired. No leaving two messages in a row and no calling and hanging up ten times until you get the hiring manager on the phone.”

    And unless you’re searching for a job at a company that isn’t very tech-savvy (they’re out there), Goodman recommends e-mail over the phone call. “People are busy, and an e-mail is less intrusive and bothersome.” She also advises, “if you did reasonably well during the interview, then sent the thank-you card, you can follow that up twice. E-mail the first time and then, if you haven’t heard anything, wait 10 to 14 calendar days and give it one more shot by phone or e-mail.”

    But there are so many different ways of getting in touch these days–LinkedIn, Twitter, texting . . . . But according to Goodman, in this case, the old ways are the best ways. “Don’t text. Don’t IM,” she insists. “And don’t leave 19 comments on their Facebook page about how great you are.” (I hadn’t even thought of that one.)

    Got it? A thank-you card, maximum of two follow-up e-mails, and one final attempt. Goodman recommends switching up this last bit of contact. “If you called on your last try, send an e-mail instead. If you still hear nothing, let it go and keep looking elsewhere.”

About this Gun

Judy McGuire

Judy McGuire

has written columns, features, and scripts about everything from sex to punk rock to fitness to bar mitzvahs. Follow @HitOrMissJudy.