Dear Savvy,

Almost every job site I visit mentions how important it is to follow up a job application with a phone call. I have made a couple and feel like nothing came of them. I think the theory is to show employers that you are excited about the opportunity, but most simply confirm receipt of the application through a secretary. There are also a lot of job postings that don't want phone calls at all.

If I want to make one of these phone calls, what can I say to help the employer understand that I am at least a good candidate to interview? (I am entry-level and am worried that what experience/knowledge I do have doesn't come across through my resume or my carefully-crafted cover letters.) What else is there to say other than "I'm calling to check on the status of my application"? (On most of the sites I use, anyway, you can check the status online yourself.) And if they say not to call, is it OK to call anyway?

Thanks so much. All those sites that mention how important it is to make these calls never tell what to say in them!

Dear Reader,

This question couldn't be more relevant considering the current job market and how hard it can be to get your foot in the door! We only get a few chances to make an impression on a potential employer before an interview, so my first suggestion is to put ample time into crafting, editing and proofing your resume and writing a convincing cover letter. You may fear your experience and knowledge don't come across on paper, but it's safe to assume everyone else applying for the position has the same anxiety. Keep your resume concise and include any leadership positions you have held outside of work to pad your experience. If there's an option to include a letter of recommendation ask your former employer, professor or adviser to speak for your skills.

When it comes to picking up the phone, you have to make a judgment call based on the company. If the job listing included a contact phone number, it's perfectly reasonable for you to call to inquire about the status of your application—once. Call during business hours on a lower stress day of the week like Tuesday or Wednesday and plan what you will say in advance. Chances you will call the person in charge of hiring are slim, so be prepared to list the position title and don't feel like you have to express 30 reasons why you should be called back for an interview.

That being said, you mentioned most of the positions you applied for allow you to check your status online. Do not call if the job listing doesn't include a contact number or specifically says "no calls" or "email only." The person on the other end of the call will not be impressed with your Googling skills, and will be agitated you reached out when the listing advised against it. If you've applied electronically, it's appropriate to reach out via a short email after a week to express your continued interest in the position. Make sure to forward the chain that includes your resume and cover letter so it is clear you have already applied.

Once you do get the interview, I suggest following it up with a sincere handwritten thank-you note instead of a call.

Best of luck!

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