By Gerald Walsh ©
Targeting specific companies that you might want to work for is one of the most worthwhile steps in your job search. Under ideal circumstances, you will have a personal connection within that organization – someone who can “open the door” for you. But more likely, you will have to take it upon yourself to make that contact.
Your goal in contacting companies directly is to obtain a personal meeting to introduce yourself, learn about specific careers, and generally network with the person you are meeting to uncover possible job opportunities. Some refer to this as the “hidden job market.”
When making the contact, most job seekers take the easy route. They send an email.
The problem with that approach? It’s not very effective.
That’s because most managers are overwhelmed by emails every day and only have time to respond to the most urgent ones. There are people who have thousands of unread emails in their inbox which means there is a good chance your email will not even be read. Or if it is, it is ignored or deleted.
So, here’s what you should do. Drop the idea of using email and pick up the phone. Yes, the good old fashioned phone!
Now, I understand that making telephone calls to a potential employer can be one of the most difficult things for any job seeker to do. This is especially true for those of you who are not used to using the phone to sell things.
Think of it this way: the telephone is a great way to establish a personal connection – even if you end up leaving a voice mail – because the person on the other end gets an immediate impression of you from your telephone manner and the tone of your voice.
And since most people are afraid of using the phone, the fact that you are doing so demonstrates a degree of confidence that others may not have. This quality will not go unnoticed by the employer.
To make the most of your call, be sure to do some basic research about the company including figuring out what its key challenges and issues are. Then, without being too scripted, write down the key points you want to make in the order you want to make them. And always prepare a good opening that should include something like, “Is this a convenient time to speak?”
Try to find a location for the call that is private, quiet and free from distracting background noises. Screeching kids, music or traffic will come across as unprofessional. And give thought to which type of phone you use. Usually, a landline has better call quality than a mobile phone but that is not always the case if you use a cordless phone, especially when used with a head set.
Lastly, maintain a record of all the calls you make. This will include the date, who you spoke to, a summary of what was said, and your next step. You don’t want to overlook a key follow-up date or activity. And always follow-up the call with an email (yes – an email is fine here!) thanking the person for
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.