Polite Persistence

I help a lot of students with their job searches. I like doing it. Who doesn’t love sharing the I-wish-I-knew-this-when-I-was-your-age wisdom?

One of the key tenets in job search is “polite persistence.” My friend and HR expert Liz Ryan describes polite persistence brilliantly. She recounts stories of people who got no response more than a dozen times but were ultimately successful.

One of the ways to stay polite is to monitor your tone so every communication is as eager and constructive as the first. You may feel like reaching through the phone lines or the Internet to shake the person’s shoulders and shriek, “Why are you ignoring me?!” but instead, summon all your patience and use one of these cordial inquiries. “Just checking in.” “I’m writing to see if there’s any update on the status of my application.” “I wanted to reiterate my strong interest in the position.” Polite and persistent.

Some of my students don’t want to politely persist because they think they are bothering the person. A more constructive way to think about repeated attempts at communication is that they are a way to demonstrate polite persistence. Who wouldn’t want an employee or a partner that has this technique mastered?

If someone really doesn’t want to hear more from you, they can tell you. However, until they tell you not to darken their doorstep, I say feel free to follow up.

Other key ideas in job search are exploration, balancing short-term and long-term objectives, and simultaneous–not sequential–search. More on those in other posts.

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