“Matt, would you review this cover letter I’ve put together? I’ve been working on it all day and am trying to contact my friend Jenny over at XYZ Company to get her help with my job search…”

Alas, the above scenario would be somewhat laughable, if it wasn’t so darn common! Nowadays, a great many people — including many job seekers and, at times, myself — are leaning a bit too heavily on e-mail to drive their communication with people, when it would actually be a lot faster and more convenient to re-acquaint themselves with Alexander Graham Bell’s wonderful invention, instead!

If you’re the middle of an employment search, for example, take a moment to estimate how many hours you’ve been spending agonizing over e-mail correspondence with recruiters and employers. Would you get farther, faster if you used that same allocation of time to reach out to these organizations by phone to introduce yourself? Now granted, there are some cases (such as replying to published advertisements) when the appropriate route is to e-mail in your documentation, versus placing a phone call, but there are many other situations (e.g. contacting recruiters, networking with friends, pitching yourself directly to employers when no ad exists…) when the phone might be the superior choice. It’s not only a more dynamic way to communicate than e-mail, but is also far more immediate and will allow you make 5-10 prospecting attempts an hour, on average, compared to the 1-2 contacts most people would probably make by e-mail within that same time span. This is a serious productivity gain!

Additionally, with regard to the phone vs. e-mail debate, many clients report situations where they’ve had a fairly positive interaction with a given employer, but haven’t heard back from the company in a week or two despite promises the company made to follow up with them. So they tell me that they’re planning on sending an e-mail to the organization, and then ask for my help figuring out exactly what to say and what the right tone would be for the message. In these cases, however, I suggest that people avoid the e-mail “time trap” and immediately pick up the phone, leaving a message such as:

“Hi, Ms. Jones? This is Fred Adams again, following up on the meeting we had the week before last. I just wanted to quickly check in and see if you had any further thoughts about the marketing position we discussed and whether I might be the right fit for this particular role. From my standpoint, I certainly feel I have a ton of relevant background to contribute to your team, and since our initial conversation, I’ve even come up with a few additional ideas that I think would help increase your market share and reach your revenue goals, since those sounded like the two most pressing priorities XYZ Company is facing at present. So while I realize you’ve got a lot on your plate right now, and I have a few other opportunities I’m pursuing on my end, as well, I wanted to see if there might be a time coming up in the next week or two when we could get together for the next round of discussion. If so, you can reach me at…”

Lobbing in a follow-up call like this only takes 30 seconds, not 3 hours, and conveys an upbeat attitude and sense of urgency that is hard to replicate in an e-mail transmission. What’s more, you might even catch the hiring manager “live” when you call and have the chance to promote your candidacy further, right then and there! Just make sure that when you pick up the phone, or leave a voicemail, there isn’t a single whiff of shame, guilt, or accusation in your message — since even though you might be in the right, you’ll get nowhere by implying that the employer flaked out or dropped the ball on you!