Cold Calling Basics


Cold calling refers to contacting employers who you don’t have a connection with to explore whether or not there may be a job opening. Sometimes cold calling (or visiting an employer in person) can result in an opportunity or interview. 

Cold calling can also increase your list of contacts and build your network.  Some possible goals for cold calling might be to: 

  • Gain insight or further information about the company 

  • Schedule an interview with the employer 

  • Learn about potential or upcoming positions, skills required and the qualities they look for in candidates 

  • Build your network of professional contacts 

One of the first steps to begin your cold-calling activities is to research and put together a list of prospective companies to call, visit or contact. 

Checklist of Information to Gather 

It is helpful to have goals or specific pieces of information that you want to gather from a cold call.  Some suggestions might be: 

  • Identification of the person (name and title) who has the power to hire new employees 

  • Learn about the company, their customers, needs, available positions, skills or background required 

  • It might be helpful to show a particular expertise or interest in the employer.  You can accomplish this by doing some research about the company ahead of time.  The more detailed the questions, the more impressive you might potentially be to the person you are speaking with.  Show an interest in: 

  • The products that the company produces or the service that it provides 

  • Technical equipment or software used by the company 

  • Customer base, location and distribution details 

  • Future development plans (expansion, new products or new services) 

  • Specific skills and professional background that they may be looking for 

Writing a Script for Your Call 

It is essential that you prepare a written script to guide you in the conversation. Your script will ensure that you are prepared and that you get the most out of each call you make.  

Do’s and Don’ts for Your Calls 

Do include the following: 

  • Introduction with your full name 

  • Your position or the position that you are looking for 

  • A “Hook” or something to get their attention, such as your experience, achievements and other key skills 

  • A “Clincher,” which might include some of your personal traits or characteristics 

  • A request for an additional meeting or interview 

  • Ask for a referral to someone else you might contact 

  • Thank the person that you spoke with and follow-up with a short email or thank you letter 

Do not: 

  • Make anyone guess who you are: be direct and professional in your approach 

  • Use negatives or make excuses for the reason for your call, delays or any other reasons for not calling earlier 

  • Suggest a lack of experience or expertise. You should talk about your interests, skills and relevant experience instead 

  • Call to ask whether someone received your resumé. Instead, you should reiterate your interest in a position with the organization and to take the opportunity to ask additional questions 

Techniques for Getting to the Person You Want to Speak with 

It is sometimes a challenge to get past the person who answers the phone to the individual in charge of hiring. Here are some techniques for getting to the person you want to speak with: 

  • If they suggest that the person is busy or absent, offer to speak with their assistant or replacement 

  • Keep trying! Try not to leave a message, but instead, offer to call back later 

  • If the person is not available, offer to come in and fill out an application or drop off a resumé 

  • If asked what the call is in reference to, say that it is a personal business matter 

  • Know the name of the individual and their title. You can call first to identify the person ahead of time 

  • Try calling before or after regular office hours, you may catch the individual answering their own phone 

Sample Telephone Script 

(Introduction) Hello, my name is Priya Prakesh.  I found your name from the online association directory for HR professionals. I was wondering if you can spare a few minutes to speak with me.  

(Your Position)  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? 

If the employer does not have opportunities, then... (Ask for Two Referrals)  Do you know of anyone else who might be hiring in your company or someone else who can 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 resumé to keep on file in case you hear of any openings in the near future.   

(Thank You)  Thank you very much for your time, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

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