Cold calling


It’s reckoned that four-fifths of the job market is ‘closed’, meaning you can’t find out about available job openings unless you dig for them. So what do you do? Pick up the phone and dig. Cold calling, or uninvited job-hunting, is a proven method of finding employment. Find out for yourself by following these 10 steps:

1. Do some homework
Before making the call, do some research. Know who you need to speak to, what they do and what their company is all about. Otherwise you risk looking foolish. Do some detective work to find the name of the decision-maker you need to speak to: probe company websites, newspaper articles and the switchboard.

2. Think before you dial
Know what you want to get out of the conversation. Specific objectives help you stay in control of the call. When phoning for a job, be clear about the role you want.

3. Be nice to the PA
It is important to develop a good relationship with the PA. He or she determines who speaks to the boss and who doesn’t. Where possible attempt to obtain the PA’s name early in the conversation, and then use it.

4. A little spin goes a long way
Dodging an experienced PA requires more than a pleasant manner. An implied familiarity with your target decision-maker or his/her colleagues can help. For example, if somebody else in the organisation gave you the name of your target, try saying: “Rupert Smith in the press office recommended I give Belinda a call – is she there?” If all else fails, call early before the PA arrives – you may be surprised who picks up the phone.

5. The pitch
Having got hold of your decision-maker, explain who you are, where you’re calling from and why. How you say it can be more important than what you say. Pace, intonation and confidence are very important. If you can get over that first micro-climate then you’re on your way because it’s more difficult for someone to cut you off after the first minute. Energy, enthusiasm and clarity are always welcome. Get to the point and avoid repetition.

6. Be cooperative
If you give people alternatives to choose between it is harder for them to say no. For example, if you ask someone whether this is a convenient time to talk or should you call later, regardless of which alternative they choose, they enter a psychological contract to talk to you that’s difficult to break.

7. Build rapport
As with the PA, use previous contact with the organisation as a hook. It puts you in the ‘warm zone’. You know someone they know and that means you have something in common. Try to speak at the same speed as the other person. If one person talks very fast and the other slowly then there’s a perception of a mismatch. Communicate information in small chunks and give the other person a chance to respond in between. And when job-hunting, avoid asking for a job outright. Ask people for advice or information about the industry. Most people tend to be flattered when people seek their advice.

8. Keep them talking
The longer someone stays on the phone, the stronger the psychological bond. Even if the conversation doesn’t result in the job offer or sale you were seeking, you can still extract valuable information that could make your next call a winner. Ask about their priorities and use that information to tailor your own message. And if this person can’t help, perhaps they could suggest someone else who could?

9. Dealing with rejection
Keep a log of your calls and categorise the responses. Most people will say no because they’re too busy or have no budget: it’s nothing personal. If somebody is rude, politely bring the conversation to an end. Don’t dwell on the encounter. Remember the rudeness is a reflection of the other person’s failings: perhaps frustration at not being a decision-maker, severe stress or plain bad temper.

10. Be persistent
You may have to call people at least five to eight times to get results. A lot of frog kissing is required in order to procure a prince.




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