Persistent or Annoying?

There’s a fine line between enthusiastic and just plain irritating. For job seekers eager for feedback, that line can be blurry.

When it comes to your job search, there’s a difference between persistence and pushiness.

Or is there? The answer may depend on the job you’re trying to fill.

Take “Chloe,” a veteran pharmaceutical saleswoman in Florida who is looking to change industries to sell medical devices. It might sound like an easy transition, but in a buyer’s market, recruiters demand specific industry experience. She’s been searching aggressively since May and has yet to find anything, but it’s not due to a lack of effort.

Recently, Chloe (who asked that her real name not be used) got her hands on the contact information for a hiring manager and sent him a resume. She waited three weeks without a response before she called again and left a few voice messages. Still she heard nothing.

Then she approached a recruiter, thinking a professional would have better luck. She told the recruiter she was interested in the position but never mentioned her previous contact with the company. It wasn’t until after she hung up the phone that she realized this could be bad job-search etiquette. Was she obligated to tell the recruiter that she had already applied? What if she wound up getting an offer on her own?

“When I got off I thought, ‘Oh no, what am I going to do here?’ ” Chloe said. “I decided to be truthful.” Not that she ever lied, but full disclosure turned out to be the right strategy, she said.

“He appreciated my honesty,” she said. “The recruiter knew how the manager works and that things need to be brought in front of him.”

The recruiter proved as unsuccessful as Chloe at raising the hiring manager’s attention, but she left the experience confident that her job search needed to be executed aggressively.

The aggressive sell

Chris Zourides, a certified professional resume writer who works with Ladders and specializes in sales, noted that when it comes to the sales job search, the line between enthusiasm and annoyance is blurry.

“When a company is looking for sales reps, they want somebody with those follow-up skills,” he said.

Of course, it is possible that a human-resources manager could mistake your perseverance for stalking.

“It’s human nature,” Zourides said. “If you bug somebody, people do get annoyed … so you have to gauge that case by case.”

He recommends leaving up to four follow-up voicemails over a period of a few weeks before giving up. “If you don’t hear back after four, then it’s a good sign they’re not interested.”

This don’t-take-silence-for-an-answer mentality will be especially useful for Chloe, who has the very daunting task of switching fields within sales.

“It’s a challenge,” she said. “This is a tough move.

“Especially now because all the power is with the employer,” said Greg Alexander, CEO of Sales Benchmark Index and author of Top Grading For Sales. “Candidates are switching and not having much success.”

But Chloe is not deterred. She’s being realistic about the obstacles she’s facing.

“I could be looking for a year to two years,” she said. “I really have to stay with it (and) persevere.”

In addition to aggressive networking and following-up, Chloe said she’s considering enrolling in medical-device training programs. The more certifications, she said, the more marketable she’ll be.