I want to tell a story, about how I got my first real job in sports broadcasting. It was a job that I was drastically under-qualified for and one that I felt I hadn’t gotten and had even given up on during the process…but I followed up my initial application and have been in the position for five years. Here’s how it all worked out.
I learned of the position becoming available through Twitter. I had followed several of the announcers and teams in the league I wanted to move up into and noted that one day one of the announcers mentioned a move to another team. Knowing this would create a vacancy, I emailed Powell River my resume and link to my website. That was in late July.
A few days after my email I got a response from the GM, thanking me for my application and that they’d be contacting people over the next few weeks. Being July, the rush wasn’t really there to hire someone right away as the season didn’t start until late September and as I’ve learned over time, things move a little slower in Powell River over the summer because it’s such a recreation hot spot.
A week or two went by and I hadn’t heard. In that time, I sent an email offering more samples and an invitation to talk which went without a reply from the team. I was convinced that my application didn’t merit a look from a potential employer, and it was a situation that I was fully expecting because I felt I was very under-qualified for the spot.
Another week or two passed and through conversations with colleagues and some research, I had learned that they were just beginning the interview process, but had been very informal about the whole process. I saw this as an opportunity to jump back in and try to position myself at the front of the line. I emailed the GM directly and re-stated my desire for the position. I was firm but polite and professional in my approach, stating what I could bring to the team and why I felt I was the best candidate. None of this is ground-breaking information but it not only got me a reply email, but an invitation to talk and an eventual phone interview.
From there, the process took on a life of its own. I had a phone interview a couple of days later, learned more about the job, the team, the town and the expectations from me. I was left feeling very good about my chances as the GM had mentioned he was impressed with my professionalism and my demo. Another few days (felt like weeks) passed and on a Friday morning I got a call saying that the team would like to hire me, that the GM would need approval from the Board of Directors and he’d confirm that afternoon, which he did.
So what’s the morale of the story? FOLLOW UP! My rule of thumb is that you wait a week to follow up, then send an email restating your qualifications and offer an opportunity to talk on the phone. Don’t resend your cover letter, the follow up doesn’t need to be long, but state a couple of key points, make the follow up your ‘elevator speech’, a short 1 paragraph note that shows your interested and puts your best foot forward.
But what if the application says not to follow up or no unsolicited emails? I say do it anyway. For me, any boss that would discount an employee for following up and showing interest and passion for the position isn’t one that I’d want to work for. Provided you don’t spam an inbox with several emails, I believe you’re in the clear.
As for when to send the email in that week? I recommend either mid-morning (10-11am) or early afternoon (1-3pm) in your employers time zone. This isn’t something I’ve been told, but something that I’ve learned along the way. My theory is that inbox’s are full first thing and it takes some time to get your day started. They also fill up over a lunch break. Emails sent in the above times are more likely to be the only one that’s unread, so you are competing for screen time with fewer applications.
I got my first big break on a job that I had completely given up on, because I followed up. I got lucky in learning that the process was still on going and I took advantage of it. When you’re applying for work, be alert. Use any sources you can to see the status of the application and use a well worded follow up message to not only showcase yourself, but display your passion for the position.