The other day I was hard at work when the phone rang. The person on the other side said one ‘hello’ and the call was disconnected. He called again after ten or so minutes. I answered and asked how I could be of help. ‘Natafuta job’ (I am looking for a job) he said. I was at a loss of words for a few minutes, and then politely told him that we had no job opening. I have been thinking of that call for some time now, and it prompted me to write these few thoughts on the art of cold calling.
What is cold calling? Cold calling is a method of job hunting where you call potential employers without prior arrangement to find out if they are hiring. Sounds bold and perhaps a little terrifying but with good preparation it shouldn’t be.
The first thing you want to do before you start cold calling is to come up with a list of potential employers or companies that you would like to work for. Do your research about the company such as what they do and find out the name of the person in charge of hiring such as a department manager or human resources manager.
Next, come up with a few lines or a ‘pitch’ of what you are looking for and how you would benefit the company. Be specific and to the point as you have only a few minutes to make an impression.
Making the actual call
- First- have enough airtime on your phone before you call, be in a quiet place without distractions and noises. Seriously, it does not augur well for you if you get disconnected in the middle of a sentence like in the case mentioned above.
- Introduce yourself and ask the name of the person on the other side, this is polite and it helps you to establish a rapport. It might also benefit you greatly if you have to call a second time.
- Confirm that you are calling the place that you intended; you may have called a wrong number and you don’t want to talk for 5 minutes only to realize that you are talking to the wrong person.
- Ask to talk to the relevant person e.g. HR manager (do your research beforehand to know the person’s name. It’s easier to ask to talk to ‘Mr. Michael’ than to the ‘person in charge of …”
- Dazzle them with the prepared pitch, and don’t be discouraged if they say they have no job offers.
After you have given your pitch;
- Follow up- Ask for an email address to forward your CV for future consideration/ ask when to call again, ask if it’s possible to get a meeting etc.
- End with a polite thank you and make sure that you write a thank you note.
- Choose a good time to call- possibly avoid early Monday morning when people are dealing with the weekend load, lunch time and towards the 5pm when everyone is thinking of going home
- Practice with someone/ make a practice call to familiarize yourself with what you will say
- Use professional language- no slang, speak with confidence and be polite
- Be nice to the receptionist/ assistant/ person who answers the phone