Successful Cold Calling Into Your Next Job

Cold calling, a process normally associated with sales, is when the sales person identifies a possible customer and contacts him/her without any prior invitation or connection. It’s stranger-to-stranger communication. Great sales people understand the importance of cold calling as part of their collection of sales activities and work on making their cold-calling techniques as effective as possible.

Job search is a sales process. As the job seeker, you are the seller of the “product” – YOU. The “customer” is the employer. You can sometimes get an intermediary (a recruiter) to facilitate the interaction between you and the customer. In this sales process, your resume, cover letter, online profile, and other materials are your sales collateral or “brochures”.  So despite different terminology, job search is truly a sales process from start to end.

Just as in traditional sales, cold calling has a place in job search. Unfortunately, most job seekers either don’t use it at all or don’t use it well. People who are not professional sales people feel uncomfortable in a sales situation. Additionally, job search is a foreign process for them – one that is not required often over the span of their careers. That lack of comfort is compounded by the overall stress of unemployment most job seekers bear. Usually, the last thing job seekers want to do is something that can feel uncomfortable and cold calling can certainly fall into that category.

Cold calling is done either by phone or in person. Job seekers often complain they cannot find a phone number associated with a job; most companies do not list their phone numbers on job ads. That doesn’t mean you cannot attempt a cold call into the company. Ever heard of the phone directory? If a company is local, you can also make an on-premise visit. (If calling in person, make sure you comply with all company security requirements.) Whether phoning or visiting a potential employer, there are some basics to cold calling.

Be prepared. You should know something about the company, its mission, its products, and its customers. Understand how the skills you have would fit into that company. You should have your mental approach outlined. See yourself succeeding! If you are calling in person, make sure you are dressed appropriately and have a focus on success. Think “People will see me as a successful person, beyond a job seeker. I am an expert at what I do for a living. I can enable improvement, cooperation, solutions, etc. that go beyond my job title.”

Have an introduction ready that demonstrates your understanding of the company. Be clear and concise about who you are and the purpose of your call. Have a great main reason for requesting to speak with the employer. Think in terms of specific details – skills you can offer to the company that will be needed by the employer. Search out unique abilities that set you apart.

Question the employer. Don’t spend all your time rattling off a rehearsed speech. Engage the employer in a dialogue. That means asking questions – about the company, their plans for growth, etc. You want to get the employer talking to you, even if it is just to establish a blip on his/her radar screen. If you do that, when the employer sees your resume or a new job opens, you will probably be the first person to pop into his mind.

If you think cold-calling is a waste of time, listen to this true story from just this week:

Martin is a construction specialist and like many other construction specialists, he has had a rough go over the past two years. This week he heard of a possible job opening at a local healthcare organization for a construction technician. He decided to just stop by the organization on his way through town and see if he could find out more about the position. As he was arriving, the person who would be making the decision on the position was just leaving his office. Martin introduced himself and they walked back out to the parking lot together, talking about the position and upcoming projects the organization had planned. At the end of the conversation, the decision-maker told Martin to get his resume to him; they had not officially started interviewing yet, but he wanted him in the pool for second interviews just from his conversation in the parking lot. Martin’s cold call worked!