Calling People You KnowMaking Warm Contactsfor Job Leads

Previous examples in this chapter involved cold contacts to employers, where no one referred you. Learning how to make these cold contacts is important, because they can be effective. Cold calls are also difficult for many people, so learning specific techniques eases the process and, I hope, encourages you to make more cold calls.

Even though cold calls are often effective, being referred by someone the employer knows is almost always better. Here are some tips for making these sorts of "warm contact" calls:

Tell the employer your connection. If you have been referred by someone, immediately give the name of the person who suggested you call. For example,

"Hello, Ms. Beetle. Joan Bugsby suggested I give you a call."

If the receptionist asks why you are calling, say:

"A friend of Ms. Beetle suggested I give her a call about a personal matter."

When a friend of the employer recommends that you call, you usually get right through. It's that simple.

Adapt your phone script to the situation. Sometimes, using your telephone script does not make sense. For example, if you are calling someone you know, you would normally begin with some friendly conversation before getting to the purpose of your call. Once you have chatted informally for a while, you can get to the purpose of your call by saying something like this:

"The reason I called is to let you know I am looking for a job, and I thought you might be able to help. Let me tell you a few things about myself. I am looking for a position as... (continue with the rest of your phone script)."

You will encounter other situations that require that you adjust your script. Use your judgment. With practice, it becomes easier!

Asking for the Interview

The primary goal of a phone contact is to get an interview. To increase your chances of getting an interview, you need to practice asking for the interview. To succeed, you must be ready to get past the first and even the second rejection. You must practice asking three times for the interview! The following exchange demonstrates how you can do this.

Ask once:

You: When may I come in for an interview?

Employer: I don't have any positions open now.

Ask again:

You: That's OK; I'd still like to come in to talk to you about the possibility of future openings.

Employer: I really don't plan on hiring within the next six months or so.

Be prepared to ask again:

You: I appreciate that you are busy, so I'll only ask for half an hour or so of your time. I'd like to come in and learn more about what you do. I'm sure you know a great deal about the industry, and I am looking for ideas on getting into your field and moving up.

Although this approach does not always work, asking the third time works more often than most people would believe. You must learn to keep asking after the first time you are told no. Of course, you should be sensitive to the person you are speaking to and not push too hard, but most job seekers face the problem of not being persistent enough rather than being too aggressive. Employers often assume that a person who overcomes their objections will show the same persistence on the job.

Ending the Phone Call in Other Ways

Sometimes you will decide not to ask for an interview during your phone call. The person may not seem helpful, or you may have caught him or her at a busy time. If so, you can do other things to make the most of the call:

Get a referral. Ask for names of other people who might be able to help you. Find out how to contact them, and then add these new referrals to your job search network. When you call them, remember to tell them who referred you.

Ask to call back. If an employer is busy when you call, ask whether you can call back. Get a specific time and day to do this and add the call to your "to-do" list. When you do call back (and you must), the employer is likely to be positively impressed. People respect the professionalism of people who keep their word and may give you an interview for just that reason.

Ask if you can keep in touch every week or so. Maybe the employer will hear of an opening or have some other information for you. Many job seekers get their best leads from a person they have checked back with several times.

Key Points: Chapter 6

Appointments with prospective employers who might have a job in the future or who can give you the name of someone else who might have a current or future opening count as an interview.

Aim to get two interviews each day you are looking for a job.

Tip: If the employer agrees to an interview, you should arrange a specific time and date. If you are not sure of the employer's correct name or spelling, call back later and ask the receptionist. Also be sure to get the correct address for the interview.

The best sources for job leads and interviews are the people you already know. Your friends, family, and acquaintances also can introduce you to or give you the names of other people who may have job leads.

Three good methods of contacting employers are JIST Cards, e-mail, and the phone. These methods work best when used together, but the phone is the most important and effective job search tool.

Using a prepared phone script is essential to effectively asking for interviews over the phone.

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