Debra Swersky
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When I applied for my job at SCVNGR (now LevelUp) in 2009, I sent my cover letter and resume to a blanket e-mail address: It went to an already flooded inbox. No one got back to me. 

These are, of course, the facts. I had my doubts. I had applied through Craigslist so any number of doubts could have been the case: defunct company, fake job description, scammer service, personal identity grab, etc. (And now you know my opinion on Craigslist.) 

But, I followed up. Confident in my skills and the application I had sent, I found a phone number and called. Perhaps the unnamed inbox actually went to a team of 20 reviewing my resume and wanted to talk to me while they picked it apart. Lo and behold, someone picked up the phone. 

Let me put this call into context for you. The love of my life had just (literally just) been matched in Boston for his four year residency. The day that he matched I had my cover letter and resume prepped to send and an afternoon of job scouring ahead of me. I placed that call on a lunch break (that I had never previously taken) outside of my office building on 43rd and 3rd Avenue. It was a chilly day for March and I had a post it note of numbers to call jotted down off of my job hunt spreadsheet. My goal was to have a job by the time residency started in July. This meant interviews during apartment hunting weekends which were rapidly approaching in April. We needed to sign on a place by May to move in by June. You get the point. Time was ticking.

Back to the phone call, it was epic. I remember being asked a barrage of questions (none of which I remember) and feeling like I was making progress regardless of my responses. My close was to ask for an interview, but I was told that I needed a phone screening prior to the interview. My phone screening was set to take place later on in the week. The apartment hunting weekend dates loomed in the back of my mind. 

At the appointed time, on the appointed day, my phone screening came and went… without me. I wasn’t called. So I called again. And again. And again. Until that same person picked up the phone. My “official” phone screening never happened, but my interview date was confirmed for the first weekend of our apartment hunting weekends. 

Because I’ll run out of room in this entry delineating the remaining brutal details of my interview saga at SCVNGR, I’ll spare you. The end result is I nailed the interview and was offered the job. I worked with and reported directly to the person who picked up my follow-up call. The unnamed inbox was his (and it filtered to a place that he checked rarely). He is one of the nicest people I know, but was one of the biggest jerks during those follow-up phone calls. He hired me because of my confidence and persistence. 

Throughout my entire life I have been called “persistent.” It’s a word that often comes to mind when you think of someone in project management. It’s a word that I, throughout my career, have leaned into because of the way that it was positioned to me at SCVNGR. But, persistence comes with its own lesson. 

Persistence on the outside doesn’t distinguish between urgency and good proactive actions. Someone who is persistent still needs to decide, “is this what I should be doing?” (Thanks, Wynne.)

Debra Swersky