Cold calling is perhaps the most universally hated activity a job seeker undertakes. Let’s define cold calling as contacting someone you may or may not know who isn’t expecting your contact.
The traditional rationale for making these contacts is that you may learn of a job opening you were previously unaware of so you view cold calls like this:
“Hello, are you hiring?”
“Not at this time, no.”
“Oh okay, thanks anyway.” Click.
If you see the cold call like this, no wonder you’re apprehensive! After all there’s going to be a lot of rejection if this is all you see to cold calling. The logic of those who hate cold calling is: A) I find calling on people I don’t know stressful and uncomfortable. B) I don’t want to feel stressed and uncomfortable. C) Therefore I won’t do cold calls.
I counter this thinking with A) I find it stressful and uncomfortable to call on people I don’t know. B) My need for a job is greater than my fear of calling on people I don’t know. C) Therefore I will make cold calls.
Take heart. Let’s expand on both the people you could contact and the purpose of cold calls you could make. See if you find yourself feeling slightly less apprehensive.
- Start off easy by contacting someone in-person or over the phone who you used to work with or for; see if they are willing to act as a reference. Tell them you are job searching, what you are looking for, and advise them you’ll send them an updated resume so they have an informed idea of what you’ve been up to. Be sure to thank them.
- Call a company you are about to apply to with the intent of getting the name and job title of the person who is receiving the applications. This may be information the Receptionist can provide, and you can mention that you would like to ensure it is professionally addressed to avoid the over-used, “To whom it may concern.” Be sure to get the name of the Receptionist as you’ll want this for follow-up calls.
- You may wish to drop in unannounced or call prior to arriving on the premise of collecting any brochures, annual reports, company marketing documents or even possibly a job description. Be sure to identify yourself by name and as a job applicant. The fact that you dropped in or called to request this additional information in preparation for an interview may be passed on to the decision maker who is compiling the short list of people to interview.
- You might contact one of your LinkedIn connections who works at the company you are about to apply to. They might be willing to pass on some of their knowledge of the company such as the culture, atmosphere, what the key characteristics the position really requires. If you believe it’s not what you know but who you know that gets people jobs, then get to know some of your contacts!
- Calling on a person working in a job similar to one you would like and requesting a conversation with them is another option. I myself have been contacted and ended up meeting face-to-face both for general job seeking advice and to talk about the position I currently hold. Sometimes I’ve met these people in a local coffee shop on my lunch hour, sometimes those meetings have been at my workplace. For the price of a cup of tea, I’ve sat for 45 minutes and had a conversation where my brain was picked.
- Okay yes you can contact a company and ask if they have a job opening for the job you are interested in. Be prepared for a negative response or being re-directed to their website to apply online, but it could work!
- One of the very best cold calls you can and should make is to reach out now to some of your social media connections before you go start job searching. By establishing a basic relationship with those people now, you will find it easier and less stressful in the future to approach them when you do go job searching. Identify potential employers, find people in positions with that company doing work similar to the job you would perhaps like. Now contact them, connect with them, engage in conversation either online messages, phone or in-person.
Okay so my point is there are many different methods and purposes to cold calls. It’s not only about phoning to ask if they are hiring and then hanging up when they tell you they aren’t. Like most things in life, the more you do it, the less awkward it becomes.
A good idea is to write out a script; a rough idea of what you’ll actually say such as:
“Hello my name is Kelly Mitchell, may I first ask who I’m speaking with? Hello Jane I’m in the process of putting together my application for the advertised Employment Counsellor position and was would appreciate the name and title of the person to whom I should address my cover letter. Thank you very much Jane, you’ve been most helpful. I hope to speak with you again very soon.”
Make sure you know what your goal is before you pick up the phone. Anticipate roadblocks and possible strategies. Do make sure you have a pen and paper handy to write down information. Good luck.