Cold calling involves phoning an employer without previously having sent them a resume.
Use the following steps as a guide when you make a cold call:
When the call is completed, record it on your job leads sheet.
Step 1: Get the recruiter's name
You may be able to find the recruiter’s name on the company’s website. It’s worth checking that the website lists it correctly, with a quick phone call.
Ask the receptionist for the name of the person who does the hiring. For example:
‘Hello, this is Emma Cloyst. Can you please give me the name of the person who is responsible for staff selection? Thank you.’
‘Can you please tell me the name of the manager for the IT department?’
Write down their full name and, if there is any doubt,
- Check that you have the spelling right.
- Make notes on how to pronounce the name correctly.
- Make sure you identify whether the person is a man or a woman.
What if the receptionist won’t give you the information?
Try calling back later with a request such as:
‘I have some material to send to the IT manager/human resources manager, and I want to make sure I send it to the right person. Would you please give me their name and exact title?’
‘I’m just updating our files, and I need to check your company’s address, and the name of the current human resources manager, and the person responsible for staff selection.’
If you still have no luck, try calling at different times of the day (for example, when the receptionist is likely to be at lunch) and speaking to someone else.
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Step 2: Ask to speak to the recruiter
Use the name of the recruiter if you have it.
Receptionists, telephonists and personal assistants are often responsible for screening calls. Be upfront about why you are calling. Sell the assistant on your positive attitude, your courtesy and your efficiency. They might put in a good word for you to their employer.
If it seems appropriate, sell the assistant on your experience and skills, too. If they seem happy to talk, ask about the company, and whether they have any advice about the best way to pursue a position there.
If the recruiter is not in or is unavailable, ask when you should call back and try to establish a time when you would be guaranteed to reach them.
When you call back, ask for the person by name (‘Would you please put me through to Jack Hall?') and, if it’s a large company, refer to their department too (‘Can I please speak to Jack Hall in the IT department?’).
You may be put through to the recruiter’s voicemail. If this is the first time you’ve called, leave your name, telephone number, and a brief message saying why you’re calling, and that you will call again later. Leaving your telephone number gives the person the option of calling you back, even though you will take the responsibility of calling again.
If you are put through to voicemail on subsequent calls, only leave messages if it is a week or so since you left your last message. Make the second message short and friendly.
If you have tried repeatedly to reach the person with no success, leave a message saying that you:
- realise they must be very busy
- are sorry to bother them
- would still really like to talk to them about the position
- will only take a few minutes of their time
- look forward to hearing from them when it’s convenient for them.
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Step 3: Use your skills statement
When you do get through to the recruiter, do three things: greet them, give your name and explain why you are calling. If someone referred you to this recruiter, give that person’s name, too. Then briefly state the skills, experience, interests and personal qualities you have:
‘Hello, Mr Hall.This is Emma Cloyst. Rose Sawdon from SA Electrical Goods suggested I speak with you. I’m calling regarding a possible sales position with your company. I’ve had four years experience in all sorts of retail environments: white goods, brown goods, furniture, homewares. I’ve got lots of current product knowledge, I can order and receive stock using manual methods or a computer, and I’m particularly good at setting up in-store displays that make people want to buy goods. I really enjoy sales and customer service—I even won the Manager’s Award for outstanding customer service at my last job. Do you think you could use someone with my skills anywhere in your company?’
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Step 4: Ask for a meeting or referral
After you've told the recruiter about your skills, the conversation could go in several directions.
The recruiter might ask you to tell them more. They might have some questions about your skills, abilities, or experience in a certain job or company. Be ready to answer—have your resume and any other relevant papers on hand.
If the recruiter says there might be a position for you, say something like:
'That's great! I understand that you’re busy. But would you have a few minutes in the next day or so when I could come in and see you? Just so that we can meet and talk further about the position (or possible positions).'
Give the recruiter several choices of meeting times—this makes it harder for them to refuse to meet you.
If the recruiter says there are no openings at the company right now, you can do one of at least four things:
- Suggest a meeting anyway, to talk about possible future vacancies.
- Ask what this recruiter looks for in new employees for this company. Ask whether they think the skills you have outlined are compatible with the direction the industry is taking, and what they think you could do to be a more competitive applicant. For example: ‘I know you don’t have any vacancies at the moment, but what sort of skills will you be looking for when you do recruit?’
- Ask if you can send in your resume, and when would be a good time to call them again—this will depend on how often vacancies are likely to come up. Send a resume and covering letter immediately. Make your follow-up call at the time the employer nominates, and ask for an interview at that time.
- Ask for a referral or other leads. For example: ‘Do you know of any other companies in the area/industry who might be hiring people with my skills?’ If they do:
- take down the company’s name
- ask whether they know who you should contact there
- ask for permission to use this recruiter’s name when you make your networking call to the other company.
Whichever way you take the conversation, speak in a confident and energetic way; this might make the recruiter reconsider meeting you.
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Step 5: Get the details
Write down all the details! If you do arrange a meeting, verify the address, and if make sure you know exactly where to meet them. For example:
‘Wednesday the 15th at 2pm would be fine. Is your address still 398 Fullington Road? What’s the nearest cross street there? And do I need a Level number?’
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Step 6: Thank the recruiter
Thank the recruiter for their time.
If you haven’t been successful in arranging a meeting, say something like:
‘Thanks very much for your time, Mr Hall. I hope you’ll keep my resume on file for future reference. I’ll be in contact again in a couple of weeks/closer to Christmas, just in case something comes up. Thanks again.’
If you have arranged a meeting, repeat the agreed time to check that you both have it right. For example:
‘Thank you, Mr Hall. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday the 15th at 2pm.’
Restate your name if the recruiter did not ask for it during the conversation, in case they didn’t write it down when you introduced yourself. For example:
‘I look forward to meeting you on Wednesday at two. Should I go to reception and say you are expecting to see Emma Cloyst?’
If they have referred you to another company, you might say something like:
‘Thanks for your help and the referral, Mr Hall. I’ll contact Ms Coles at Mondo Enterprises tomorrow.’
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