Debra Feldman

Cold Call Your Way to Your Next Job

Ten easy tips show you how.

June 19, 2008
by Debra Feldman

It's rare to find anyone, particularly an accountant, who is completely at ease making cold calls. But, cold calling is one of the best ways of identifying unadvertised job opportunities and it's a proven technique for navigating the hidden job market successfully.

And if you think about it from the potential employer's perspective, an unsolicited cold-call inquiry means no recruitment fee, which can make you an especially attractive candidate in this difficult economy.

So if you can't beat 'em, then join the cold calling brigade. Just do it smartly to minimize your nervousness and maximize your results.

Cold Calling Tips to Success

Here are a few tips to making your cold calling more effective:

  1. 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. Match your background to the industry, your interests to their apparent strategy and your talents to those areas where you identify a weakness or challenge you are prepared to address.

  2. Initiate contact with a company representative who is most appropriate for your level and desired contribution. Find someone in a functional or operational role who can assess your capabilities quickly and recognize your potential value to their organization.

  3. Target the right relationship to give you a competitive advantage over other candidates. While you may cold call human resources (HR) to boost your status in response to an advertised position, HR is not the right place to begin your introduction to learn about unadvertised jobs. HR is more likely to screen you out than to add headcount. In order to become privy to leads known only to insiders, 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. Timing is critical. If you sense that the person answering the phone is distracted or not cooperating, end the call graciously and arrange to call back at a more convenient time. Keep track of the call by making notes to yourself and reason why you made the second appointment.

  5. Don't be discouraged if the cold call doesn't get results the first time. Think of cold calling activities as a worthwhile investment. Rome wasn't built in a day; it takes patience to find the right person. Target the right attitude.

  6. 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 get the right person to like and want to help you. Then begin to talk about your interest in working with them at their company.

  7. 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. Try to make this a two-way, mutually gratifying exchange.

  8. Cold calling is a very effective way of expanding your business contacts database. An additional benefit of cold calling is that it helps to connect you to people who might have a job lead now or in the future. This is about making connections that eventually may help you find a new opportunity.

  9. Remember that you are the one asking for help politely. At the same time, approaching cold calling activities as an exchange among equals — not as a subordinate — is important. You are not asking for a job; you are proposing to provide assistance to their team.

  10. Call early or late in the day. Everyone is busy and it is often a challenge to reach someone and have a conversation. If you don't get through on the first couple of attempts, send an e-mail requesting a callback or get the administrative staff to help. Find out how to avoid the main switchboard and get to the contact's direct extension.


Still hesitant about making cold calls? In an upcoming issue I will divulge even more tips on discovering hot new career opportunities using proven cold calling techniques.

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© Debra Feldman, 2008

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 soon to be profiled in Forbes magazine and featured in an upcoming syndicated television series. In addition to writing columns and conducting workshops for several revered professional associations, Debra provides career guidance to alumni of top-tier business schools. Contact Debra at www.JobWhiz.com to expedite your executive ascent.