11/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How To Be Persistent Without Being A Pest

Hi Christine,

I am looking for a job in branded entertainment. I had a great interview at a talent agency recently, but she told me the position may not be open for a month or so. I sent her a thank you email as well as an article I thought she may find of interest. There is also another agency I'm meeting with, but the interview keeps getting rescheduled due to his travel schedule. My contact there has emailed me himself and assured me he wants to meet with me. How do I pursue both of these agencies? Do I ask the former when she plans to make a decision? Do I keep pushing to get in with the second agency? I'm just not sure of how to walk that fine line between being persistent and being too aggressive.

Job Seeker, 27, Los Angeles

Dear Job Seeker,

Given that you've already had one interview and have made contact with a connection at another agency, you are off to a great start in a very competitive industry. It also sounds like you have a follow-up pattern down pretty well. I'm continually surprised when I hear from employers how few interviewees actually send thank you notes. Consider sending a hand-written one as well -- that has completely become a lost art.

In terms of walking that fine line, hiring managers and bosses like seeing persistence -- but they don't like pests. No one likes to feel like their inbox is being infiltrated by over-eager job seekers. Keep email follow-ups to one every week and a half or so; and this is if and only if you are actually getting responses back. In order to not be a pest, you have to learn how to gauge your contact's response time and tone. If they don't get back to you or if they say things like, "As we already discussed" or "I will contact you," then back off.

However, if they continue to be responsive, then respectfully keep the communication line open. For example, if the woman who you sent the relevant article to got back to you in a few days with some sort of gratitude or enthusiasm, that's a good indicator that she appreciated the contact and information. Use her thank you response to you as an opportunity to reassert your interest in the field. You can even tie in your comments to points made in the article and start a dialogue with her, showing her your understanding of your field of interest and that you've done your research. So, continue to send her additional information but only if it's relevant. I don't recommend just looking for something to send for the sake of sending it.

In terms of how assertive to be about the job offer, I'd give it two more weeks and then email her reiterating your thanks for her meeting with you, your interest in a position, and inquire about a timeline of when she may be looking to hire. If it turns out they won't even be interviewing candidates for several months and you need a job badly, then it would be best to concentrate your efforts on the second company. Moreover, from your question, it is not clear if she was 100% certain that the position is yours when it becomes available. You need this clarity before making any assumptions and playing the waiting game.

As for the second company, it is a great sign that the man you will be interviewing with emailed you personally about the delay. You can send an email thanking him for his personal reply and mention again your interest in the company and the position. However, since the interview is being delayed because he is out of town, and since you haven't met with him before, there really isn't much else to push for.

For even more specific advice, I sought out the expert opinion of Dana Salston, CEO of Industry Recruiting and Consulting:

"If during your first interview you were told that the position may not be open for a month or so, wait until about week 3 ¾ and if you still have not heard anything send a follow-up email inquiring as to the status of the position-after that, the ball is really in their court. When it comes to dealing with an interview that is consistently getting pushed, check back once a month (at most) via email and be patient. While working at an agency is a stellar idea you need to broaden your search to include: Ad Agencies, Marketing/Branding Companies, PR Agencies and Studios. In the interim try looking into temping - most studios have an in-house temp pool and there are many temp agencies that work within entertainment. This can be a great way to network and hone your skills at the same time."

I echo Dana's advice about pursuing other options since both of these companies seem to be in a holding pattern. I see too many job seekers become overly focused on a job they think they deserve or will be offered someday before the actual offer is a reality today. Don't become so tunnel-visioned with either of these positions that you lose your job seeking momentum.

Send me your questions to