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Call before application: 5 tips and 5 good reasons

A phone call before applying is considered a secret weapon to increase the chances of finding a job. More and more candidates are calling HR departments to have a short phone call before the documents are submitted. The problem: A phone call before applying is not automatically a plus. If you do it wrong, it backfires and the call leaves you with a bad first impression. That doesn't mean you don't have to call. It is crucial that you prepare the call thoroughly before applying and that you have the right reason to dial the recruiter's number ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Call before application: How you can benefit

Typically, an application process begins with submitting the documents after you have found a suitable job advertisement. In the meantime, however, more and more applicants are relying on calling the HR manager beforehand and establishing initial contact.

The idea is simple: with a quick phone call before you apply, you introduce yourself to the company and you are already a few places up in the race for the vacancy. Sounds almost too good to be true, but - under certain circumstances - it can actually work.

These benefits can be had by calling before applying

  • You bring your name into play

    With a previous call to the recruiter, you can introduce yourself and (hopefully) be remembered with your name. In a pile full of identical application documents, it can be a great advantage if the person you are talking to recognizes your name. So you can stand out from the crowd and draw attention to yourself.

  • You have an entry point for the application

    When writing a cover letter, the first sentence is often the biggest hurdle. A phone call before you apply is a good way to start writing. Relate to the friendly conversation and emphasize that it reinforced your desire to work for the company.

  • You can ask important questions

    You can obtain additional information by calling before you apply. If, after reading the job advertisement, you still have important questions, HR managers are the right people to talk to. Make sure the questions and information are actually relevant - avoid asking about obvious things or soliciting information that can easily be found in the advertisement or on the company website.

  • They show your interest

    Used correctly, you can show with the phone call: I absolutely want this job! In this way you can once again make your interest and motivation clear. This underlines the overall impression that you want to make with your application.

Caution: Disadvantages with initial telephone contact

With all the advantages, you should still think twice about picking up the phone to call before submitting your application. If things go well, you have earned plus points. However, this effect can quickly turn into the opposite.

HR managers are chronically stressed, always have a lot to do and work on many construction sites at the same time. Of course, this also includes answering calls from applicants and potential new employees. However, if these turn out to be a pure waste of time, there is no positive impression, but a bitter aftertaste. Anyone who seems to call for no reason or who remains silent on the phone for minutes because they have no words is no closer to the dream job. One thing is clear: a negative impression made by calling before applying is difficult to reverse.

Good reasons: When does it make sense to call before applying?

A phone call before applying should not become an end in itself. With the attitude “This is what you do now…” or “I've heard it has an advantage”, the project is usually doomed to failure. The basic rule is: Your call before you apply must have a specific reason and cause. If this is missing, your conversation partner will also notice it. Before you pick up the phone, think carefully about why you want to speak to the recruiter.

Good reasons and questions to call before applying

  • Topicality

    Job advertisements can be found over a long period of time - sometimes even after the position has already been filled. If you became aware of a possible job after a delay, it is therefore perfectly legitimate to express your interest on the phone and ask whether the position is still available.

  • Inquiry about qualifications

    You do not have 100 percent of the qualifications and experience that the employer describes as desirable? To make sure that your application still has a chance, you can ask in advance, describe your situation and find out whether the application is worthwhile.

  • Details on the field of work

    Which areas of responsibility does the advertised position include? What is the focus of the activity? Which goals are in the foreground? If such information and details are not or insufficiently explained in the job advertisement, you can follow up on the phone.

  • Information for your decision

    Before submitting your application, you should be sure that the job suits you and your expectations. If you need additional information to make this decision, it may be useful to call before applying. For example, you can ask whether there is a possibility of a home office arrangement, whether the position includes shift work or how many business trips you have to reckon with.

  • Technical difficulties

    Numerous companies nowadays rely on an online application system that interested parties can use to apply. If there are technical problems, you can always contact the HR manager by phone. But this really has to be a problem. If you call because you don't know how to upload your résumé or merge PDF files, you shoot yourself out.

Tips for a successful call to the recruiter

First of all, if you call before you apply for a good reason, then there is no need to panic. Companies are prepared to respond to inquiries from applicants; during an ongoing application process, HR professionals expect candidates to inquire by phone and obtain information. However, you should not take the phone call lightly. The following tips can help you make the conversation a success.

  • Prepare yourself thoroughly

    Spontaneous calls before applying are not a good idea. Take the time to prepare for the interview. First, find out more about the job advertisement and the company's website. You should write down any questions that still remain in a short list. So don't forget any points out of nervousness. If the interview is about qualifications for the job, you should prepare the most important skills and experiences. It is quite possible that HR managers ask here to get a better picture.

  • Pick a good time

    The best case scenario is to catch the HR manager when he can spare a few minutes to talk to you. Of course, you can never know for sure, but meetings usually take place at the beginning of the week and in the mornings. Your interlocutor may be stressed here and has less time to answer your questions. Shortly before the end of the day is also a bad time. It is better if you try your luck after the lunch break in the early afternoon. However, it is important that you ask whether the person you are speaking to has time for you at the moment or whether you should call again at a later point in time.

  • Be brief

    A phone call before applying for a job has no place in long stretches and ramblings. After introducing yourself and briefly explaining why you were calling, you should get straight to the point.

  • Always stay friendly and professional

    The call before you apply is the first impression you make on the company. Accordingly, you should be friendly and professional throughout the conversation. This starts with the first question whether the person you are talking to has time for a few questions and ends with a heartfelt thank you at the end of the phone call. It is also important that you listen carefully and let the other person finish speaking. Anyone who only understands half of them or who interrupts the other one does not make a good impression.

Special case speculative application: call anyway?

In the case of an unsolicited application, you send your documents to companies and HR departments even though they have not just published a job advertisement. On the one hand, there are all the more questions that still need to be clarified - on the other hand, there is no specific job that you might need information about. The question arises: does it make sense to call before applying if you are applying on your own initiative? In most cases the answer is no!

By calling, expressing your interest in a job with the employer and asking whether there are any vacancies, you avoid the purpose of an unsolicited application. In any case, the answer to the question “Are you looking for someone with my qualifications?” Will be a “No” - otherwise there would be a corresponding job advertisement. It is therefore better to submit the unsolicited application documents without a prior call.

What other readers have read about it

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Further sources and advice

Application tips
➠ Application templates
➠ 11 application forms
➠ ABC of application tips
➠ Application folder
➠ Application photo
➠ cover sheet
➠ Brief profile

Tips on the résumé
➠ CV in tabular form
➠ Resume templates
➠ Internships on the CV
➠ hobbies on the resume
➠ Unemployment on the résumé
➠ gaps in the résumé

Tips for covering letters
➠ Cover letter
➠ Introductory sentence in the cover letter
➠ Final sentence in the cover letter
➠ Interests in the cover letter
➠ Strengths in the cover letter
➠ Attachment directory

Tips on the job reference
➠ Assess job reference
➠ Secret codes in the certificate
➠ Interim report
➠ Job description
➠ References & samples

Special applications
➠ Unsolicited application
➠ Internal application
➠ Discreet application
➠ Email application
➠ Online application
➠ Application as a temporary worker
➠ Application for mini jobs
➠ Application after termination

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January 24, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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