How to be assertive without being pushy in your job search

USED CAR SALESMAN KITTY
Any time you are selling a product, you need to stand out amongst the competition. When we do computer repair in Lawrence, I think we provide a level of service that is a cut above the rest and our reviews speak for themselves.

Finding more technicians to assist us in this mission has been hard enough that we are offering a $500 referral bonus if you refer a qualified applicant that we hire. We got lot and lots of pushy applicants. People that say we are “fools” not to hire them or are “too demanding” in our expectations. The best ones I consistently get are “I don’t have time to answer your questions. Either interview me or go away”. Note that they are unemployed. They don’t want the phone interview or the email interview. They demand the in-person interview right away. I can see why these people are still unemployed!

Being pushy doesn’t work. Have you ever met a salesperson with a hard sell that you are excited about? Me neither. However, you do need to be assertive. Stand above the competition and present yourself in the very best possible light.

After you send your resume, it’s great to follow up. A polite email confirming receipt of the resume and asking if they have any initial questions is professional. Don’t push for the interview or do your sales pitch. Just ask if they got it. Pushy people will ask for the interview or highlight their interests. You should have done that in the cover letter, you just want to make sure the system didn’t glitch. Even in 2012, email gets lost in the shuffle or the Post Office loses mail. Helping people with stuff like that is what WE do for a living.

I recommended sending a paper resume as well. Unless it is an advertised position that specifically say no paper, this indicates a strong interest in the position. Ideally you send this to the person responsible for hiring and do it on high quality presentation paper. Depending on the size of the company at which you are applying, you might consider sending a couple extra copies of your resume. This often says “pass me along” and allows the recipient to share the resume easily with others (and saves a trip to the copier!)

If applicable, mention in that paper cover letter you also applied electronically so they know to look for the email. If everyone does this, you won’t stand out in the crowd, but I suspect that won’t be a problem! Filing out an electronic form takes very little effort, but sending paper with a stamp and going to the mailbox takes effort. Savvy employers like employees that take a bit of initiative.

The pushy applicants call or stop by unsolicited. That is intrusive and takes away from the work day. If you do that, they’ll remember you for sure, but not in the good way!

Getting to the interview is a critical point in a job search process and pushing your way in won’t work. What you do during the interview and after will be the difference between acceptance and rejection. More on that in the next post.

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