By Lisa Parker

When mapping out a strategy for your job search, it’s easy to focus exclusively on what you should be doing and leave out the when. It is important to realize the impact timing can have on how successful your efforts are with a decision maker.

I’ll share a story of one of my more embarrassing moments as a recruiter to make my case. For those who don’t know, third party recruiters make a lot of sales calls. A big part of the job is reaching out to as many decision makers as possible. Though I preferred to build relationships through networking, the need to cold call professionals in the industries I serviced was unavoidable. So I got it in my mind one day that I wanted to connect with a partner at a local accounting firm. Thinking only of my interests, I picked up the phone and gave him a call. He answered immediately. I had his direct line, you see. After taking a moment, probably a longer moment than necessary, to lay out for him my reason for calling and expressing my interest in meeting with him, he sighed. What came next took me by surprise. “Do you have any idea what day it is, Miss?” The question was posed with a bit of acid in his voice. I couldn’t imagine why he was being so short with me. How was I supposed to know what was going on for him that day? If he was busy he shouldn’t of picked up his phone. That’s where my mind was. I honestly can’t even remember if I answered his question, which was probably okay since it struck me as rhetorical. He continued with, “I suggest you find out!” The next sound was him hanging up the phone.

I’m not sure how many of you have ever been hung up on, but trust me when I say it’s not a pleasant experience. Of course, my immediate reaction was to peg him a jerk and spout off about not wanting to do business with a person like that anyway. A short while later, probably after a few cups of coffee, my brain joined the party. Suddenly I knew what I had done. Without thinking I had called to chat up the partner of an accounting firm on April 15th. Tax Day! I wanted to crawl under a rock. Here was a man, likely fielding all sorts of last minute calls from clients, who got stuck on the receiving end of a sales call on one of the busiest days of the year for him. I’m sure he felt the same way about me that I feel about telemarketers who call during dinner hours. Inconsiderate schmucks!

Think about the times you’ve decided to reach out to decision makers and ask yourself if you might be to blame for the cool or rushed reception you received. From the quick survey I’ve done of the job seekers I know, many are inadvertently calling hiring managers during peak hours. They are picking up the phone when it suits them. Not a good way to generate positive results. If you aren’t in a good position to guess the best times to catch a decision maker in a receptive mode, ask them. You’d be amazed the difference simply asking a decision maker what days and times are best for connecting with them via phone can make.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.


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