I have been advised by my JVS Job Developer to start cold calling for a job, an information interview and/or co-op placement. I participated in a cold calling workshop and understand how this technique can be used to tap into the hidden job market and build a professional network.I am terrified to pick up the phone and talk to strangers. Is this an appropriate strategy for the job search?
Signed: Terrified of Calling (TC)
In recent years, with the onset of social media, there have been countless articles positing that cold calling is dead. I am a big believer in learning and applying all the skills, techniques and strategies in a job search, including cold calling, but I disagree: cold calling is not dead. It’s just different in this complicated and competitive labour market.
Career coach Robert Hellman featured in Susan Adams’ article in Forbes, How Cold Calling Can Land You A Job has some fantastic advice on cold calling that I have combined with my recommendations, which I apply in my cold calling that I use to build my professional network and business in my role as a Job Developer at JVS Toronto.
1. Targeted and deep research.
Decide where you want to work and research the companies, the industry and best contacts there. Following a consultative sales model, I would identify (prospect) the employees with the decision-making power or hiring manager of the department where you wish to work. Use social media to research the profiles of these individuals. Understand their resumes, join their groups, and follow them on social media. Before you pick up that cold telephone or email, learn as much as you can about the targeted individuals and company’s hiring practices, the workplace culture and opportunities. I wouldn’t even say no to cold calling the president of the company as well regardless of where you are in the hierarchy of the organization work.
2. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and the company website to get contact information.
Many people list their contact information on their LinkedIn or Facebook pages. Company websites frequently include directories. Switchboards will often give out direct dial numbers and extensions.
3. Write a specific subject line for your email.
Come up with a phrase or sentence that will make the reader want to open the email, like “discuss development and fundraising ,” or “your AdWeek article about sales strategies.” LinkedIn can also show you whether you have any contacts in common and those can produce good subject lines, like “we’re both connected to Susan Adams and Fred Allen.” (Check out an article in this blog about writing emails that get noticed for more information about this topic).
4. Focus on your value to the employer.
Prepare a bullet point list of your accomplishments in advance for the cold call or email. They should be quick and specifically explain their relevancy to the company and/or positions you are contacting. Think about how your work would apply to a potential employer. Focus on your value to them. Quantify your achievements with numbers, saying you boosted revenues by 27% in your first year or doubled market response within two years by adopting a new testing program, for example.
5. Follow up.
After you cold call, send the first email, wait three days. Then follow up by forwarding the original email with a short sentence saying something like, “Hi, I’m touching base about the email I sent. Would you be available to set up a meeting?” Leave only one voicemail. It’s a good idea to phone repeatedly but only leave one message. If you leave multiple voice mails, your target may feel stalked.
8. Boil your verbal pitch down to 15 seconds.
Research something special about the company or the person you are calling. Did they win an award? Were they featured in an interview on the radio of television? Did they write something interesting to your profession? Begin the pitch with something positive that you learned about them and/or their firm. Recognize their achievement. Share this information as a warm up. If you get through to a CEO or senior executive on the phone, you will need to make your point quickly, while asking for a 20 minute meeting. Don’t be disappointed if they turn you down. If you make a good impression, they will likely send your contact info to someone else. Most companies are on the hunt for good people.
9. Use the words “mutually beneficial” in your email and phone call.
Make it clear that your goal is to help the potential employer achieve their goals.
10. Send the resume only when asked.
Don’t attach your résumé to the email, unless you know there is a job opening for which you’d be well suited. Otherwise, focus on your stated goal, of helping the potential employer.
11. Ask for 20 minutes.
Most people can spare this amount of time and it’s enough of an interval for you to learn something about a company or institution. In your email and phone call, ask if the person can meet in person.
12. Express gratitude.
When you meet, emphasize what you can do for them. Spend the rest of the time listening to what they need so you can follow up with a thank-you note that emphasizes how you can contribute to solving their problems.