11 Ways to Be Persistent Without Being Annoying (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

When I speak to groups at colleges and universities about how to get your dream job after college, one of the most common questions from the audience is how to be persistent during a job search without being annoying or overly aggressive.  Whether you are a job-seeker, a salesperson, or an entrepreneur, this is a common challenge. 

In general, if you are reaching out to someone cold (i.e. you do not know the person and you have no shared connections or affiliations), it is reasonable to reach out to them every 1-2 weeks until you get a response.  It can take 5-10 contacts to get a response sometimes, so persistence definitely pays off. 

Once you have established a dialogue with someone, 1-2 contacts per month is usually the maximum frequency to aim for.  While each situation needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis, here are some guidelines on how to be persistent during a job search without being annoying or overly aggressive:

  1. Have a reason for contacting the other person.  Remove this phrase from your vocabulary: “I’m just calling to follow-up.”  Do not bother reaching out to someone unless you have a specific reason for doing so.  For your first contact, this could be because a mutual acquaintance referred you or because you read an article or blog post someone wrote.  Once you have already connected with someone, this could be to give an update on a prior discussion.
  2. Schedule a next step.  A key mistake that job-seekers and salespeople make once they get someone’s attention is that they leave the follow-up up in the air.  Always try to schedule the next time to chat.  At the minimum, get permission to reach out again within a certain timeframe. 
  3. Give an update.  If you spoke to a contact and were given advice or an action step to follow, you should re-connect to give an update on what you did.  This also gives you an “excuse” to ask for suggestions on next steps.
  4. Add value.  You become annoying when you repeatedly ask for help or favors without ever adding value to a relationship or at least asking how you can help the other person.  You can add value by sharing an idea or article that will be relevant, interesting, and/or beneficial to the other person.  If nothing else, make sure to ask how you can help the other person. 
  5. Use humor.  You will never be annoying if you are funny.  Don’t try to be a comedian, but incorporate humor when appropriate.  Here is an example.  I was trying to get in touch with a faculty person at a college several months ago.  He did not respond to my first 2 attempts, so I sent an email stating that I hoped he was not holding it against me that I attended a rival school while I was in college.  I also included a smiley face to make sure he knew I was kidding.  He responded in a matter of hours.  Most people are way too serious, myself included, when trying to break the ice with someone new or when trying to build a relationship with someone you don’t know very well.  A good sense of humor (especially some self-deprecating humor) puts everyone at ease.
  6. Contact someone else in the organization.  Another key mistake that job-seekers and salespeople make is to think you are only allowed to contact one person in an organization at a time.  If someone has never responded to you, feel free to connect with someone else.  Just make sure you never criticize a person who has not responded to you, and don’t spam an entire company!
  7. Show appreciation.  Send a thank you note (handwritten notes are much better than emails) every time someone helps you.  People are much more likely to find you annoying when they feel that you do not appreciate what they have done for you. 
  8. Value the other person’s time.  Make sure you tell someone that you know his/her time is valuable.  Then, honor their time by asking good questions and keeping conversations concise.  If you are seeking advice, make sure you have thoughtful questions prepared in advance of a conversation.
  9. Play it cool.  I remember one of my first leads when I was in sales with the NBA’s Washington Wizards.  I left the guy a voicemail 4 days in a row and could not figure out why he never called back.  Lesson learned.  Desperation is annoying.  Give people a chance to respond, and give yourself lots of options so that no one person is essential to your career success.
  10. Be explicit.  Sometimes, when someone is not responding to me despite my best efforts at using the above strategies, I will actually say or write, “I hope I’m not being a pain, but ______.”  Then, fill in the blank with a reason why you want to connect with the other person, while including a reason why he/she should want to talk to you.  This has worked for me on multiple occasions and often gets the other person to apologize for being so inaccessible!  It’s hard for someone to think you are annoying when you explicitly state that you are trying not to be.  You can only use this tactic once, usually as a last-ditch effort.  After that, it looks insincere.
  11. Don’t take rejection personally.  Sometimes, no matter how professional, polite, friendly, or considerate you are, people will not be receptive to your desire to get connected.  When that happens, just move on and find someone else!

There is no foolproof strategy that guarantees someone will respond to you favorably.  However, following the 11 strategies above will significantly increase your chances.  It is possible to be persistent during a job search without being annoying or overly aggressive!

Last point… When it comes to getting your dream job, err on the side of being too interested.  I’d rather have someone think I was overly enthusiastic than think I was apathetic.

Got another tip on how to be persistent without being annoying or overly aggressive?  If so, please share below!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour




Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

Explore posts in the same categories: Get Your Dream Job NOW, Networking, Professional Relationships

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