How often do you hear the words ‘I’ll call you’?
More importantly, how often do you hear these words (or something similar) and then never hear from the person again?
How does that make you feel?
Just to clarify, for the sake of this post I’m referring to work related situations. Not calling after a date or breaking up with someone by cutting all communication is a much more complex and personal issue best left for another time.
My recent stint job hunting has highlighted some particularly interesting ‘I’ll call you’ behavior.
Whether it was recruitment agencies that promised to call but never did, to interviewers who specifically stated they would call regarding the outcome of an interview on a certain day only to never hear from them again.
I understand people are busy. I understand plans change; decision makers are unavailable and more important business issues needs to be dealt with urgently.
Here are my thoughts on the calling situation both from the perspective of the person making the call and the person waiting for one.
If you are the person making the call
Don’t promise to call in the first place
Probably the easiest way to avoid this issue is not to promise something you won’t deliver in the first place.
Some recruitment agencies have a statement at the bottom of their job listings advising that people will only be contacted if they make the shortlist. If you don’t get a call within a couple of days, you know you didn’t make the first cut.
The same approach could be applied in other situations. Instead of promising to call each person and then not following through, advise that only the successful applicant will be called within a certain time frame. Be honest about the time frame; don’t say one week if you know it will most likely be two.
Ultimately there is still an element of waiting involved but at least the person waiting for the call can assume by not hearing back they have their answer. When they are promised a call and then nothing happens, it leaves a bad impression.
Don’t promise to call on a specific day (unless you are going to follow through)
Two companies stated they would call on a specific day with an outcome. Take a guess when I heard back from them. If you guessed never you would be right.
If you have no intention of getting back to someone or you feel you won’t make the deadline, don’t tell them you will call them on a specific day. If you are going to go to the trouble of being specific, go to the trouble of calling.
It doesn’t have to be a call
I realize speaking to people can be time-consuming. Instead send them a quick email. The email itself doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Even the standard ‘unfortunately you were unsuccessful in your application’ email is better than nothing.
If no decision has been made, but you promised to contact someone on a particular day, let them know there has not been a decision as yet.
Protect your company and brand
Companies often spend a lot of money on marketing, advertising and website copy.
If your website and advertising are aimed at convincing your customers or potential customers of your fantastic customer service yet you fail to follow through on a simple promise to someone, what impression does that leave about the company?
All of your positive marketing spiel won’t stand up to broken promises and bad service.
If you are the person waiting for the call
Don’t put everything else on hold
As tempting as it might be, don’t sit around waiting for a call. For those job hunting continue to apply and interview for other roles. If you are already employed, get back to doing your best work in your current position.
Waiting for calls can be frustrating – no doubt about it. Be prepared for this element of frustration and allocate extra time in your schedule to relax and recharge.
Don’t hound the company chasing an answer
I think it’s safe to say that hounding or ringing the company relentlessly if they have not contacted you, won’t win you any favors. In fact, it could ruin your chances of getting the job.
In many cases it is appropriate to make a follow up call. The hard part of course is knowing if or when you should follow up. If you reach voice mail, leave a concise message with your contact details. Don’t be long-winded about it. If they don’t return your call – move on.
I know I have made the mistake of saying I will call someone in the past and then not followed through. One thing is for certain, after my recent job hunting experience I will be a lot more aware of when I promise to call someone.
On a positive note, I am happy to announce that I have started working in a full time administration position. Thankfully I got the one call that really mattered!
How often do you tell someone you are going to call and then not follow through?
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