To Know or Not To Know: Which is Better

This weekend, I spoke with a job seeker who — three weeks ago — applied for a job listing online for a job that he saw at Borders. He hadn't seen the closing signs, or the news coverage that Borders will be laying off over 10,000 employees nationwide. And even if he had, he knows that companies hire all the time — even if they are laying off people in other departments.

My friend spent over an hour applying for the job, then dropped by last week to discover that they were closing within three days. There were no jobs to be had.

"I'm annoyed. I'm frustrated. But I'm glad I know now that I won't be hearing from them."

There are some aspects of the job search you can't control: It isn't always possible to know when a job is posted — "for real" or when it's posted to comply with internal hiring policies or marketing plans of keeping up appearances.

That said, there are some tried and true — as well as emerging and new — ways that you can ensure you get better feedback on your applications. Wouldn't you rather know than sit and wait to hear? Here are three ways to do this:

1. Follow up.

I recently interviewed Google recruiter Jeff Moore, and learned that — in his opinion — one of the biggest mistakes that candidates for jobs at Google make is not following up and assuming that Google isn't interested. He cautioned, "Don’t take yourself out of the game." He also said he's frequently hired candidates who initially applied for a job he didn't hire them for the first time.

2. Get the inside scoop.

Use your social networks to figure out who you know inside the company, and — if you've got a connection — let them know you've applied. If not, don't be afraid to call the company, anyway. My friend Angela got several interviews simply by figuring out who the hiring manager was for positions, calling at night and leaving a voicemail with a two sentence summary of her skills and experience.

3. Sign up to get feedback. 

Since December, I've been working with StartWire, a free site that helps job seekers organize their job search — and get feedback. One of the secrets not often shared when you apply for jobs, is that many companies actually provide you with updates on the status of your job application — but you have to log back into the website where you applied for the job to get the feedback. StartWire checks this information automatically for you at over 2,600 companies when you tell them where you've applied.

Personally, I think it's better to know when you are in the running for a job — or not — then to sit and play the waiting game. You?

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