Well… I’m not going to tell you how to say “No phone calls, please!” (It’s just a nice, catchy title.)

But I hope we can address what a job hunter should do when the personnel jockey warns  not to call anyone at the company…

A reader asks:

I researched the company and sent in the requested cover letter and resume, but after discovering your website today, I would like to do more towards “being my own headhunter.” The problem is that the job posting on the company website clearly states “no phone calls, please.” Does this exclude me from contacting people within the company who are not the hiring manager? How do I communicate that I think I deserve an inside edge?

If you get the newsletter, you know what my advice is. (You don’t get the newsletter? Well, sign up now — it’s free — or you’ll miss my advice on the next How to Say It!)

Your turn now: Can this reader still make the call? (Ah, that’s a loaded question!) How? And how should she use the call to leverage an inside edge on the job?


  1. “no phone calls, please” means don’t call HR, who’s motto is ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you (maybe, if we feel like it, if we get around to it)’. By all means, try to connect with the real people who do the real work. It’s one of the most basic tenets of ATH. See Nick’s http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/crocs48whodoesthework.htm

  2. @Chris: When HR says “no phone calls,” HR almost always means “Don’t you dare call ANYONE in our company!” A foolish instruction. Nonetheless, job hunters should be aware that if HR intercepts them when they call a manager, HR can get nasty and blackball them for the position… that’s called cutting off their noses to spite their face. The call must be done deftly to avoid whiplash!

    Hey, thanks for the link to and reminder about that article… I should have thought to refer to it in my original post!

  3. This reminds me of a question I saw on Stackoverflow a little while back, “Appropriateness of contacting workers for a job you are phone interviewing for?” was the question that was asked and some of the answers may be interesting to see.

    There may be some truth to a “No phone calls, please,” but sometimes it may just be a way to prevent any polite people from trying to call and clog up the company’s phone lines. I don’t think she should say that she has an inside edge, but that she is qualified and wants to know when she could come in for an interview. Yeah asking for what you want may seem a bit surprising but it may just work.

  4. “No phone calls, please” is really saying, “Don’t color outside the lines and let the process work.” And if the hiring process is broken (which it is, in most cases), the only thing that won’t be working besides their process is you.

    It could also be sign that it’s a company you really don’t want to work for if they discourage networking and direct communication between manager and qualified candidate.

  5. If you call people to get information, or call people you are reffered to, you don’t have to obey by the job ads rules…because you didn’t read them…