One of the most frustrating experiences that job seekers say they deal with is trying to follow up with potential employers after going through an in-person job interview.
The problem, they say, is that even if they do manage to capture someone's attention for a few moments, too often they get only vague answers that tell them nothing about whether they will get the job. They can't find out if someone else was hired - or if no decision will be made for a while.
And just as often, they complain they can't talk to the hiring officers who always are "on another line" or "out of the office."
Worse, they often get no response to their phone messages, letters or e-mail. Is it possible to get through this barbed wire barrier?
"Yes, it is possible, said Ford R. Myers, president of Career Potential, a career consulting firm in Haverford, Pa.
And here's where you begin: "You should ask about how to follow up at the end of the job interview - but most people don't even ask," said Myers, who has been in career management since 1983. "You can't force the interviewers to tell you something they don't want to tell, but what I have found is that more than 50 percent of the time, if you ask, you get an answer."
But, for many job seekers, trying to get that all-important information is daunting.
"It's something you should expect - it's part of the game," said the career consultant.
Among the reasons you may never hear back, according to Myers, is that there often are thousands of applicants for one job, especially through the Internet, and the attitude toward resumes of not responding to all of them spills over to follow-ups.
What's more, there are fewer job openings, and "companies no longer have the manpower or time to maintain this etiquette anymore. So don't take it personally."
Instead, there are some things you can do to position yourself to get a response, according to the career expert.
"Have a follow-up strategy before the interview - set the stage for an effective follow-up," said Myers. "Then, confirm the next steps before the interview is over. Next, follow up promptly, within 24 hours."
He said to "be persistent but not a pest. Call about once a week for one month."
And if none of this works, don't be upset.
"Accept rejection gracefully," he said. "You can't force the employer to hire you. But turn defeat into a potential victory and be the best back-up candidate they have."
Carol Kleiman writes for the Chicago Tribune.