How to Make Cold Calls and Land a Job

Ten easy tips revealed.

January 8, 2009
by Debra Feldman

It’s rare to find anyone who remains undaunted making cold calls or actually enjoys this task. Combine cold calling with the high level of anxiety associated with job hunting and together they create a pretty stressful experience.

Why Cold Call?

If cold calling went away, financial professionals and CPAs would be abandoning one of the best methods of identifying unadvertised opportunities. Cold calling is a very effective job-search method and one of the few proven techniques for entering the hidden job market. Unsolicited cold calls mean no fees to the employer, which in this environment makes that candidate even more attractive from a financial perspective.

How to Cold Call

Join the cold calling brigade, but do it smartly to maximize your potential for positive results. Here are a few tips to make your cold calling, not only easier, but also more effective!

  1. Target the right contact. To maximize your potential for being successful, choose a target company that your due diligence shows would benefit from your skills and knowledge. The closer you fit the profile of an ideal candidate, the easier it will be to sell yourself to this employer.
  2. Target the right company. Initiate contact with a company representative who is most appropriate for your level and desired contribution. Usually this means finding someone in a functional or operational role who can assess your capabilities quickly.
  3. Target the right relationship. HR is not the right place to begin your introduction to learn about unadvertised jobs, the so-called hidden job market. In order to become privy to leads known only to insiders, you have to get in touch and begin to cultivate a lasting relationship with a company insider who will champion your interest and help you meet other employees.
  4. Target the right circumstances. Timing is critical. If you sense that the person answering the phone is distracted or not cooperating, it’s okay to graciously end the call, politely arranging to call back at another more convenient time.
  5. Target the right attitude. Don’t be discouraged if the cold call doesn’t get results the first time. Think of cold calling activities as a worthwhile investment creating relationships with individuals who have ties to your target employers. It takes patience to find the right person.
  6. Target the right timing. Don’t begin your call by asking if there are any job openings for yourself. The purpose of cold calling is to expand your network to include contacts at your target companies. First find the correct person, then get them to like and want to help you and then begin to talk about your interest in working with them at their company.
  7. Target the right goals. Be prepared to say something relevant or provide some information of value based on your company research. Have some business small talk ready to share as a warm-up. Create a two-way, mutually gratifying exchange.
  8. Target the right network. Cold calling is a very effective way of expanding your business contacts database with an additional benefit of connecting you to people who might have a job lead now or in the future to share with you. This is about making connections that eventually may help you find a new opportunity.
  9. Target the right career management strategy. Be polite and respectful of the other person. Approach cold-calling activities as an exchange among equals. You are not asking for a job; you are proposing to provide assistance to their team.
  10. Target a direct contact. Call early or late in the day, send an e-mail requesting a callback, get the administrative staff to help or find some other insider to help arrange the call. Find out how to avoid the main switchboard and get to the right contact’s direct extension.


Still hesitant about making cold calls? Stay tuned for an upcoming column in which more tips for discovering hot new career opportunities using proven cold calling techniques will be revealed.

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Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz™, a nationally-recognized expert who designs and personally implements swift, strategic, and customized senior level executive job search campaigns, banishing barriers that prevent immediate success. Her gift for cold calling, executed with high energy and savvy panache, connects candidates directly to decision-makers, not HR. Network Purposefully™ with the JobWhiz, and compress your job search into mere weeks, using groundbreaking techniques profiled in Forbes magazine. In addition to her private practice, writing featured columns and conducting exclusive workshops, Debra is a recommended resource to alumni of top-tier business schools. Contact Debra at www.JobWhiz.com to expedite your executive ascent.

Debra Feldman, 2009