Pick up the phone
I recently gave away my old futon mattress on Craigslist (thanks, Craig!). Why does this have to do with job searching?
I posted the listing in the “free stuff” section. As anyone knows who has ever posted anything in that section, you are immediately inundated with random emails and calls from people the moment you list something there. I got four or five emails from various people, including a few people who said “is it too late if I pick it up next week?” or “Can you tell me how old it is?” or “Can I come and look at it first?”
Well, for me, speed was of the essence. (My mother was coming to visit, and we wanted to get it out of the house to make the place presentable.) I also have extremely little free time (working a full time job, starting to work an additional very part-time consulting gig, have a baby, a husband, and a desire to have at least 30 free seconds per day for myself). But I wanted to be fair to people, so I wrote back to everyone who asked, to say I was going to give it away to whomever showed up first.
Finally, after about 5 emails from random people, Lisa emailed me—and asked for my number. I emailed it to her, and she called within seconds. She arrived at my door seconds later, with a car and ready to move the mattress. She took a quick look at it, and it was gone, and thankfully out of my life.
There are jobs out there for which speed and quick follow-through is of the essence. Even for jobs where there are specific qualifications and a thorough interview process, speedy applications can give you the edge. Being the person who picks up the phone, calls immediately, and shows up instantly can sometimes land you a job right then and there, especially an entry-level or survival job for which there are few requirements and hundreds of applicants. Even for more advanced jobs, calling quickly and conducting follow-through shows your strong interest, professionalism, and follow-through; and asking for an interview to be delayed can cost you the job. Pick up the phone!