As the name suggests, cold calling means contacting someone whom you do not currently have a relationship. It’s a useful job search tactic because it builds your network, creates new professional connections and sometimes even results in a job opportunity or interview. If nothing else, the conversation helps you gain insight and information about the company as well as a better understanding of the skills and qualities that company is looking for in potential candidates.
Checklist of Information to Gather
Before cold calling, gather a list of prospective companies to call, visit or contact and research each one. Know what you want to achieve from the call or the specific pieces of information you would like to learn. Here are some suggestions.
- Find out the name and title of the person who is responsible for hiring new employees.
- Learn about the company and their customers.
- Ask about the company’s needs, available positions and required skills or background for these positions.
During the conversation, it’s helpful to show a particular expertise or interest in the company. It shows that you are genuinely interested. Accomplish this by researching the company ahead of time and then asking detailed questions about the company’s:
- products or services
- technical equipment or software
- customer base, location or distribution details
- future development plans
Writing a Script for Your Call
A cold call conversation is easier when you prepare a written script. It helps guide the conversation so that you get the most out of each call.
Include the following in your cold call script:
- An introduction with your full name.
- Your position or the position that you are looking for.
- A “hook” or something that gets the other person’s attention, such as your experience, achievements and other key skills.
- A “clincher,” which might include a personal trait or characteristic.
- A request for an additional meeting or interview.
- An ask for a referral to someone else whom you might contact.
- A thank you to the person that you spoke with, followed by a short email or thank you letter.
During your conversation avoid using negatives, excuses or suggesting your lack of expertise or experience. Instead:
- Be direct and professional in your approach, do not make the other person guess who you are or make excuses for calling.
- Talk about your interests, skills and relevant experience rather than suggesting a lack of experience.
- Ask additional questions about a position within the organization rather than simply calling to find out whether your resume was received.
Techniques for Getting to the Right Person
When cold calling, it can sometimes be a challenge to get past the person who answers the phone. Here are some techniques for getting to the person you want to speak with:
- If you’re told that the person is busy or absent, offer to speak with their assistant or replacement.
- If you are asked to leave a message, offer to call back later.
- If the person is not available, offer to come in to fill out an application or drop off a resume.
- If you are asked what the call is in reference to, say that it is a personal business matter.
- If you can find out the person’s name and title beforehand, ask for them by name.
- If you can call before or after regular office hours, you may be able to bypass the receptionist and catch the person answering his or her own phone.
Sample Telephone Script
Hello, my name is Priya Prakesh. I found your name from the online association directory for HR professionals. I was wondering if you could spare a few minutes to speak with me.
I have been an HR professional (The Hook) for the last 10 years and was involved in a major HR change initiative for a leading insurance company.
I am currently looking for a position in the HR field here in Ontario (The Clincher). I am a highly motivated professional who offers a unique combination of skills.
Request a Meeting
When I found your name online, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to speak with you to find more information about positions in HR. Would you be available sometime next week to meet with me for 20 minutes to discuss this?
Ask for Two Referrals
(Use this if the employer does not have opportunities) Do you know of anyone else who might be hiring in your company or someone else who could help me? I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak with them directly.
Please let me know if I can send you a copy of my resume to keep on file in case you hear of any openings in the near future.
Thank you very much for your time, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.