The thought of cold calling a potential employer is enough to bring many people out in a cold sweat. But when done right, it can help you land a new job.
When job hunting, it helps to stand out from the competition. One way to do that is to get in touch with people at organisations who may be hiring for a position you are interested in. If done carefully with preparation, cold calling can give you the opportunity to show your enthusiasm and initiative.
However, cold calling comes with several risks, including irritating an employer or coming across as bothersome. So how can you make it work for you?
“The positives of cold calling a prospective employer depends on the type of work you are looking for and the organisation,” says Soma Ghosh, careers adviser at The Career Happiness Mentor.
“Some organisations may feel you are showing initiative and want to support you with the next step. However a larger company may not like this approach especially if they have a particular process in place already. Take time to judge before you make a call look at their recruitment process first where possible.”
If you are looking to work for an organisation that is a little bit smaller or has still managed to maintain that “family feel” then a cold call may go down fine.
“From the research you have done on your potential new employer, you should have a good idea how they will respond to a cold call. Sometimes the most interesting opportunities present themselves when you put yourself out there,” says Elizabeth Houghton, career coach at Sutton Full Potential.
“Scan through your connections, do you know anyone at the business you want to work at or does anyone you know, know someone who works there? A warm introduction is always easier than a cold introduction,” she adds.
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“That is not to say cold calling does not work, you are going to have to be super resilient to be able to handle the ‘rejections’ you get. If you are not someone that is going to handle being palmed off, do not cold call.”
The negatives of cold calling are that it could be time-consuming and doing it repeatedly runs the risk of alienating yourself in the recruitment process for being too keen. It may also be an uncomfortable experience for the person you end up speaking to, so it’s important not to push too hard if you aren’t getting anywhere with them.
How to cold-call a potential employer
Before you pick up the phone, Ghosh recommends emailing a recruiter first. “If then you haven’t heard from them ring and find out,” she says. “Also, think about connecting with employers on LinkedIn and engaging with them there before potentially calling them. The last negative could be you get a no straight away on the phone, but don’t let this dishearten your job search.”
An alternative is to speak to a receptionist or staff member first to find out whether it’s possible to talk to the recruiter directly. “Remember everyone is time poor these days and if you approach an assistant on the phone you can scope out if opportunities are available,” Ghosh says. “The way I would advise approaching this is to ask in a tone of language that is polite, to the point and concise.”
You may be told to apply for a job online or through LinkedIn. “Make sure you approach things in a way in line with their process and also try and assess if they seem like a company you want to work for,” she adds.
Make sure the information you want isn’t online
Most companies will post any job vacancies on their website, on their social media accounts or on LinkedIn. Before ringing a potential employer, make sure you’ve scoured the internet first, otherwise you run the risk of looking silly.
Prepare for the call
Cold calling a potential new employer takes preparation and practice. “It isn’t too dissimilar to sales calls, after all, what you are selling is you, your skills, your abilities, and your alignment to the organisation's vision,” Houghton says. “Ensure you are feeling at your best before you make the call. To get past the receptionist, you will need to be personable, professional, and engaging.
“Be clear on the purpose of your call, what is it that you want to achieve from the call? Do you want to know if the company has any vacancies, after already searching the internet and not finding any? Do you want to find out who the leader is of the business area you want to work in? Be clear on your ‘why’ before making the call, and above all else be yourself.”
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