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Cold Calling: A Time-Tested Method of Job-Hunting
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
There are many avenues of job-hunting for job-seekers looking for full-time employment to follow. Certainly job-hunting on the Net is one method that has been receiving the most attention lately, but there is a traditional method of job-hunting that can be quite effective for you if you simply follow all the steps outlined in this article. The method? Cold calling potential employers.
Cold calling, or uninvited job-hunting, is a proven method of finding employment. When you consider that four-fifths of the job market is "closed," meaning you can't find out about available job openings unless you dig for them -- prosepct for them, this method of job-hunting takes on great importance. That digging, as well as all aspects of the process that follows, is what this article is all about.
The first step in this process is compiling a list of all companies that you might be interested in working for -- and don't worry if the list is a long one. In fact, it is better to have a longer list than a shorter one since your odds increase as your list gets longer. You could gather this list of companies by focusing on a specific geographic area, a specific industry, a ranking of the best companies to work for, or any other method. Check out our Quintessential Directory of Company Career Centers -- or our Guide to Researching Companies for more help. The point of this step is gathering a list of companies that you are interested in working for.
The second step in the process is gathering the names of the people who have the power to offer you a job. This step is accomplished by calling each company's main number and asking the receptionist (or department assistant) for the name and title of the hiring manager in your field of expertise. Don't let them give you the name of the Human Resources manager (unless that is the department where you are trying to get a job) because your first point of contact should be with the hiring manager in your field. This step is essential -- you must get a name and title. Many hiring managers have said they throw away any letter that is not addressed to them by name. Do you open your junk mail? Be persistent.
The third step in the process is writing a dynamic cover letter. While you may be sending out a great many letters, make sure that each letter is individualized by addressing each to a named individual, and, if possible, saying something about the company to showcase that you've done some homework about the company. Remember that your cover letter is extremely important since it serves as the point of first contact with the employer. If you don't have much experience writing cover letters, then spend some time with our free cover letter tutorial -- or our other cover letter resources. Enclose a clean copy of your resume with each letter you mail. We have two different resume tutorials if you need a little help with your resume.
The fourth step in the process is contacting the people you wrote to in the third step. For many people, this step is the hardest. It means getting on the phone and contacting these people and asking for a job interview. Be persistent, even if the potential employer says there are no current job openings, but do not be rude or too pushy. If the person is unwilling to grant you a job interview, you should request an informational interview, where you can gain more knowledge of the field -- and perhaps get the names of more people to contact. Your goal should be to get as many interviews with potential employers as possible. Even if the majority of them say there are no current openings, interviewing with them gives you the opportunity to dazzle them -- and then ask for referrals to other employers who might have job openings available. Make sure you are best prepared for these interviews by checking out some of our job interviewing resources, including our job interviewing tutorial. You can also conduct at least one follow-up by letter/email -- see our Job-Seeker Cold-Contact Follow-Up Letter Template.
Final Thoughts on Cold Calling to Job-Search SuccessIf you follow all these steps -- along with all the other rules of job-hunting (the Domino Effect, phone manners, dress for success, and thank-you letters) -- you'll find cold calling to be a successful tool in your overall job-hunting strategy.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com.
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