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Hi Dr. Converse,

I don't seem to be getting much response to the resumes and applications I have sent out.  Should I call employers with a follow-up or should I just wait?  What does it say about my application if I am not getting offers of interviews?  Thank you.

Hi Jana,

In response to your first question, I have mixed feelings about follow-up calls.  In some cases, I think they can be very effective but in others they are an annoyance to employers.  If you have sent your app package to a Human Resources department, you might simply call to inquire if they received your application.  You could also use the opportunity to get a time frame for action on their part; for example, "how soon might I expect a call about an interview?" or words to that effect.  Often you can use the phone call to HR to find out more about their process.  Is there only one person who will do interviews or will it be a committee?  If it's an individual, see if they will tell you who the person is.  If you are fortunate to get the name (and, often, you won't be that lucky), that gives you another subject to research in preparation for your interview.  If it's a committee, find out how many people will be sitting in on the process.  If you have hand-outs or portfolios, this will help you to prepare an adequate number of copies.

On the other hand, if HR simply screens the apps for minimal qualifications, the decision about interviews will likely be made by the interviewer or members of the committee collectively.  In that case, I am not a big fan of calls to the committee chair or interviewer ... even if you know who it is.  My feelings on this are likely colored by my own experience.  As a person who has been on countless hiring committees, I always hated it when an over-zealous applicant called every day for an update (yes, that has happened).  I won't say I was subsequently turned off enough by those people to deny them an interview on that basis, but it certainly did their prospects no real good.  Even if I had not been disposed to be irritated by harassment, you can be certain that, if you were to be interviewed, we would let you know as soon as we know.  After all, employers want to move forward on this process as much as you want them to.

So, bottom line is that you have to use some common sense and make a judgment call about how to go about this process if you choose to follow-up.  When you do so, always be polite and understand that, very often, people who interview you have full-time job commitments doing something else for the institution other than interviewing job applicants.  They do this kind of thing because it is necessary and important work, but often their job responsibilities interfere with their ability to take action on your application as quickly as they might otherwise like.

As to your second question, it may say nothing about your application if you are not getting calls.  If there are a lot of apps, it could be that yours didn't make even the first cut.  It doesn't mean you aren't qualified or a great person, it simply means the people who reviewed your app felt that there were others who would probably be a better fit.  And often, it is that "fit" that an interviewer looks for more than anything.  It is a subjective judgment to a large degree, but an experienced interviewer who knows the institution intimately is in the best position to make that kind of decision.

On the other hand, my experience tells me that when a person does not get calls in reaction to sending out resumes, it means that there is something wrong with the resume (or cover letter, or some other application document).  Since we do this kind of thing every day for people from all over the world, I would be happy to give you a free evaluation of your documents.  If you'd like me to take a look at them, attach them to an email and send them to me at the address below.

Best wishes,

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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