|Warming Up The Cold Call|
|Career Tips - Supersonic Searching Mondays|
|Written by Abby Kohut|
For many people, public speaking is their greatest fear. It even beats the fear of dying for some people. Based on those rankings, I wonder whether the fear of cold calling a single prospective employer ranks higher than speaking in front of a large audience.A cold call is not when you place a call while skiing. According to Wikipedia, "cold calling" is the process of approaching prospective customers or clients, typically via telephone, who were not expecting such an interaction. The word "cold" is used because the person receiving the call is not expecting a call or has not specifically asked to be contacted by a sales person.
When you call a prospective employer on the phone, is that really a cold call? You betcha. It's just as cold as if you were calling to ask them to vote in the election or if you were calling to ask them to donate to your charity. When calling about joining their company, you are asking them to buy something… the something you are selling is YOU!
So why on earth would any reasonable person (except the bold among us with sales experience) ever consider making such calls? Good question. Here's why: (1) Very few candidates are actually using this approach - because it is such a scary proposition, and (2) because cold calls can work when done correctly!
The best way to ensure cold call success is to find a way to warm up the cold call by letting the person know beforehand that you are going to make the call. There are several ways to do this:
In your letter, state that "I will call you on X date at X time to discuss setting a time for us to discuss my letter."
To get an interview (for a job that they may or may not have open) you will need to illustrate to the person that you are someone who can solve a problem that they have. That means that you need to do plenty of analytical research beforehand to determine what problems exist in the organization as a whole.
When you do decide to make the call, I recommend calling before 9AM or after 5PM so that an executive assistant is not available to block the call. I also recommend blocking your caller-ID and then calling back later rather than leaving a voicemail message. Just don't overdo it with calling too many times as their phone is still ringing every time. When the employer answers, don't ask whether they received your letter. Assume they did. Start with, "I sent you a letter earlier this week and I am following up as I stated. I have XYZ experience and am interested in discussing how my experience can help bring ABC value to your organization. Would Monday or Tuesday afternoon work for a 15 minute informational interview?" Role play this conversation with a friend until you have it memorized, and then, go for it. You don't need 100 people to say yes. Oftentimes, all it takes is one person who is so impressed by how far out of the box you have traveled, that they not only interview you, but also decide to hire you.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
One of my favorite books is Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. It's a rare bird who enjoys cold calling, but it's something different to try. What do you have to lose? The worst they can say is no. The best case scenario is that you will catch them at the perfect time and they will be unable to turn you down because you actually do have a solution to their problem. Just think, once you master cold calling, public speaking won't seem half as bad :<)