Dear J.T. & Dale: Through networking, I contacted former associates who are now at two companies where I'd like to work. Both gave me the name of a hiring manager, as well as names of key decision-makers. My former colleagues also forwarded my resume to the appropriate individuals. However, I haven't heard anything, and the positions are still on the companies' Web sites. What would be the next best step? - J.C.
J.T.: The next step is to pick up the phone. Before you do, think through what you want to convey so you won't ramble. I'm not suggesting you read a script into the phone, but definitely have all your points ready to go. Be sure to start with the name of the friend who works there, and also include the No. 1 reason you are impressed by what the company does.
Dale: I'd also see if your friends would be willing to make calls to the hiring managers on your behalf. You might think that such calls would provoke the hiring manager to think of you as pushy - but I've NEVER heard a manager say that he or she had rejected applicants because they wanted the job too much.
J.T.: I agree, and that's why, if you get voice mail when making your calls, you should tell them you're planning to call again in five business days if you haven't heard anything. That lets them know you won't just disappear. Then, when you get to talk to the hiring manager live, don't be afraid to ask directly where the company is in the interviewing process and what it would take to land an interview slot. If you learn that they aren't yet actively hiring, ask the best way to stay in touch - in particular, ask for permission to call back.
Dale: Notice how J.T.'s advice was to craft a call full of questions, not sales pitches. That's how you prevent being seen as pushy. Here's your mind-set as you call: You want to help them make a good decision ... and, guess what? Hiring you turns out to be that good decision.