Gentle Rain: Persistence in the Face of the Wait

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 3.55.26 PMLooking for a job can be so extremely frustrating that folks will do things they wouldn’t even consider in normal times. I met with a student not long ago and suggested preparing a pitch, also known as an “elevator speech,” in case you find yourself in an elevator (grocery store line, barber shop, etc.) with the hiring manager of the company you have been wanting to work for. “I never speak to people in elevators,” this student said in response. “Well,” I said, it may be that these times require a new approach.

Recently I have been hearing about candidates going from one interview after another with the same employer – one person told me he had eight of these interviews – and then, nothing happened: no calls, no letters, no response. Lord have mercy!

Maybe you’ve already sent a thank-you note saying you’re the best candidate for the job and that you really want to work there, and then you followed it with a phone call and an email. This is certainly good to do, but questions take up the employer’s time, and most people worry about being a nuisance – or, worse, a stalker – if they contact the employer more than once or twice for a status check. No doubt, the employer has other candidates who are also sending voice mails and emails to push their agendas.

Consider another approach. Contact that employer every 10 days by email until you get either a job offer or a rejection. Look for print or online articles related to the topics you covered in the interview. Let’s say you talked about the company’s customer service in the interview, and you found an article about customer service online. Describe the highlights in your email. In the subject line, you can write, “More about [the company’s] customer service excellence.” In the message area, you can say, “We discussed this during our interview, so I thought that you might be interested.”

Ten days later, you can email, “I saw that [the company] just won recognition for sales achievement. Congratulations!” You could also send some industry news: “I was at an association meeting this month, and the people from [the competitor] are talking about a new service…” Emailing useful web addresses that the hiring manager doesn’t know about can also be helpful. And if she already does know about it, so what? You’re making her part of your professional network.

Persistence is a virtue, when it’s done with skill. Marilyn Moates Kennedy (Kennedy’s Career Strategist, 11/02, p. 13) calls it the “gentle rain” technique. Create a gentle patter of low-key contact designed to get the interviewer to hire you. She’s tired of interviewing anyway, and your gentle rain allows her to stop, slow down and alleviate her stress.

Gentle rain is vital for times when a long wait is involved, says Kennedy. Let’s say the company will have an opening in late April, because by then, their taxes will have been paid and the budget approved. Of course you’ll be applying for other opportunities, but consider a gentle rain of of constant emails to keep your name in front of the hiring manager.

I’ve seen several clients use this technique with great success. One man campaigned for a full year before he landed the job of his dreams. He got discouraged, yes, but since it only took a short time each time he sent an email, he persisted. He did it. You can too! Best wishes for your success!

By: Malka Weintraub, LCPC                                                                                              Career Coach / Counselor

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