You have just applied to the job of your dreams. What happens next could depend entirely on you!

Every month I’m contacted by people looking for opportunities; some are looking for a role within our organisation, some are looking to sell a service and some are looking for a donation. The vast majority take a passive approach finishing off their letter with “I look forward to hearing from you”. Why, if they have taken the time and effort to find out who I am and contact me, do they then sit back and wait for me to respond? Why don’t they take the initiative by following up?

This got me thinking about cultural differences and if professionals are remembering to adapt their approach to the culture of the organisation.

The British style of ‘I don’t want to bother you’ might work with some of the more traditional businesses, but won’t be as effective for a US organisation where you are expected to follow-up, be persistent and not give up. In Wall Street Gordon Gecko is talking about Bud Fox as “The kid who calls 59 days in a row, wants to be a player. There should be a picture of him in the dictionary under ‘persistence’”. In the UK some would call that stalking, but you can’t expect to work for a multinational and not adapt your style. Now imagine taking a US application approach in a traditional Japanese environment, where persistence is easily taken as aggression. If they say we will contact you that means DO NOT CALL, DO NOT EMAIL; going against this could lead to an automatic no.

So if you want to be taken seriously, take your style seriously. Know the organisation you want to work for, understand and be sensitive to their culture, adapt your approach and be prepared to step outside your comfort zone. To some that means turning the volume up, to others it means turning it way down.