Savvy job seekers are aware they don’t know everything about job search tactics, particularly about calling hiring managers directly to learn why they are hiring and what their biggest need is.
Good salespeople who regularly make cold calls know they need to speak to decision makers, not supporting staff. They understand the initial objective of the call is to keep the other person on the phone. They know this is critical to success so they spend a considerable amount of time practicing their attitude, delivery, and listening skills. By asking questions and listening well they learn what the objections to the sale are and how to overcome them. They know they won’t win every sale so they don’t take rejection personally, but as motivation to pick up the phone and make another call.
Selling why you should be hired is no different than selling a product or service. This is why job seekers are salespeople by default, if not by choice.
Making voice contact with the decision maker, the actual hiring manager, before submitting a resume is acknowledged as the most effective way to get hired, above all other search tactics. The easiest call to make is the one where someone has personally referred you to the hiring manager. While getting a referral should be the prime objective of your networking efforts, it doesn’t always happen. That is when you should go into cold-calling mode.
To make effective cold-calls to hiring managers:
Remember this: If you are not looking for an HR position, the hiring manager is not HR. You want to talk to the decision maker, the person you will be working for.
Create scripts for gate keepers and the hiring manager. Keep them short and to the point. Internalize your scripts rather than memorize them. Practice, practice, practice. Role play them. Video tape them. Continually refine and improve them.
Do your homework before you make the call. Research the company. Learn as much as you can about their mission, their products or services, what new things they have published in their PR releases. Know as much as you can, write down all of the information and have it in front you when calling. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Make sure you know the name and pronunciation of the person you are calling and the company. Find out what their title is.
Make sure you understand the position they are trying to fill.
Listen to the hiring managers’ mood. “Am I catching you at a good time?” will win major points.
In making cold calls the recipient doesn’t know you so it is likely they are going to be in a defensive mode. Don’t exaggerate that by blurting out that you are looking for a job. Instead, ask them for their counsel on a matter. If they ask if you are job searching, tell them you are considering making a change and would like their perspective.
Never interrupt the call by answering an incoming call or by answering the door, etc.
Do Not monopolize the conversation or the recipient will find a way to get rid of you.
Speak at an easy to listen pace. Speak clearly and concisely. Enunciate well. Avoid using slang and acronyms. Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum while you’re on this call.
Avoid acknowledging lack of experience in something when asked. Rather than saying “no, but …” talk positively about something you are competent doing.
Turn failure into success. Seeking an interview is the objective of the call, but if you fail to accomplish that end, continue the conversation. Seek advice, identify other possible opportunities, and get the names of other potential hiring managers. Build your network. Many people are happy to answer a few more questions from a genuine, polite person.
At the end of the call, set expectations. Make sure you establish what the next step will be; establish who will do what and when.
Remember politeness. Say “please” and “thank you”, especially at the end of the call.