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Cold Calling: It's about asking for information

Cold Calling: It's about asking for information

Cold calling is about making contact over the phone with someone you don't know then asking for information about a job, requesting an interview, or just trying to gain job related information.  This idea is intimidating to some people.  However, with proper planning, preparation and tact, cold calling can be an effective way to gain information and possibly extend your networking capabilities. 

Cold calling can be a proactive method of searching for a job.  Your initial contact with a potential employer can be a cover letter and resume, followed by a telephone call.  Before calling any potential employer, you must develop a short script.  The script usually takes no longer than forty seconds to complete, and it should present you as a person, then highlight your skills and abilities.  If cold calling is executed in a professional manner, potential employers will be impressed with your telephone etiquette and initiative.  You should also keep in mind that the employer can only tell you official information and NOT the likelihood of your being hired, etc.  Legal restrictions prohibit employers from divulging information that may be deemed unfair.

Before you attempt to call a potential employer, you must thoroughly research the employer and the organization.  If possible, find an acquaintance who knows the employer you are about to call.  The introduction will be smoother, and it may assist you in initiating a pitch.  You should make the following available before calling:

A  HYPERLINK "" \l "Tracking" job search tracking worksheet
Pen and paper
HYPERLINK "" \l "Tracking" Job search calendar
HYPERLINK "" \l "Script" Telephone script
The script is usually no longer than 40 seconds to complete. It serves as a guide to keep the telephone conversation professional and gain the most amount of information efficiently both for you and the employer you are calling.  It also helps keep your anxiety level down.
After the initial greetings, your educational background should follow.  Your specific and unique skills can compliment your presentation.
Be friendly and confident.  This is an opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and your ability to communicate.
The script can be used as a follow-up to a cover letter and resume, but it can also be used to accelerate the job search process.  You must personalize the script for the best results.
Practice first with a friend.
Key information about the employer you are about to call and the organization.  The information may be integrated with your job search tracking worksheet.
Your resume
Confidence and calm mind
Job search tracking worksheet and calendar

To help organize and facilitate your professional image, you should keep track of your job search process.  You need to keep copies of all correspondence and detailed notes on interviews, conversations, and your research.  Categories should be included in any job search tracking sheet and can include:

Company name and address
Position you applied for
Contact person
Contact person's telephone number
Method of contact
Date(s) of contact
Follow-up activities
Other important information you may want to include are:
Network meetings
Professional conferences
Association meetings
Letters to be sent, letters sent already
Telephone calls to be made

Organization and documentation are the key to successful tracking, so take the time to set this up and fill it out.

Cold calling step-by-step:

Research the employer and the organization.  The more you understand the organization, the better you can hold conversation effectively and keep the employer's attention.

Rehearse the script many times before calling.  The more natural and professional you sound, the better impression you'll give.  Practice until no one can tell that you are following a script.  Treat the telephone conversation as if it's the beginning of an interview. 

Call the number and project your voice...confidence and professionalism are easily traveled over the phone line. 

When calling larger companies, request an administrative assistant for the department in which you are interested in working.  If the position announcement doesn't list the name of the person who's making the decision, request the person's name, ask for the spelling, then write it down in your job search tracking worksheet. 

If the person whom you are calling is busy, call back in a day or two and possibly at a different time.  Ask if there's a better day and time of the day to call again. 

If you are connected to the person who's making the decision for hiring, give your name and follow your telephone script.  Request an interview.  If the employer cannot or will not have time to meet with you, have an alternative plan ready.  Keenly sense the tone of the employer's voice and try not to build a negative impression about you; if the employer does not seem interested in continuing the dialog further, say thanks and ask if there's a better time and/or day to call, then end the call quickly. 

If you are successful in landing an interview, receive directions to the meeting place and write them down.

When you finish with the call, complete your tracking worksheet and prepare to call another person.

Sample telephone script:

Hello, may I speak with ____________? (Hello, is Mr./Ms/Mrs./Dr. _____________ available, please?)

My name is Jack Confidence and I'm calling about the __________ position.  How are you? (Please let me know if there's a better time or day to call you.  I'll be happy to do so.)

Great.  Would you mind spending a minute or two telling me about the position, please?

Are there other unique qualifications that you are looking for in this position?

I'm interested in working with you because ___________________.

I hope we can get together and discuss the position further.

Thanks for spending time with me.  You have my number and address on the resume, so please feel free to contact me.

Is there anything else I should know about the position?

Great.  Thanks again for your time.  Good-bye.

Different opportunities occur throughout your career, and cold calling can assist you in "pitching your ideas" to colleagues.  As a young professional, obtaining better telephone skills should be a high priority whether or not it is for cold calling.  Learning how to communicate with people you don't know should help your presentation and confidence. 

In addition to the calling etiquette improvement, you can open yourself up for more opportunities by being more professional, expressive, and expanding your network.  Pleasant phone manners and a sensible approach creates a better public relations for the entire profession.  Because good calling manners produce results regardless the desired outcome, it is wise to exercise the same etiquette when you arrange travel plans, solicit donations, request product information, or negotiate deals.  Once you learn the power of effective telephone manners, you'll find opportunities open up.