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How to Cold Call for an Interview
Generally recognized as part of a salesperson's vernacular, cold-calling can just as easily apply to marketing your skills and qualifications to recruiters and hiring managers. The key to interviewing is presenting your qualifications in such a convincing manner that a hiring manager clearly sees why you're a good fit for the job and the organizational culture. And, cold-calling prospective employers is fundamental to selling yourself to hiring managers and decision-makers.
Many job boards are aggregators, meaning they simply post jobs that are already posted elsewhere in cyberspace, whether on the employer's website or on another job board. In some instances, recruiters target certain job-seeker audiences to increase workplace diversity, such as Diversity Inc. Careers, which claims to be the best-connected job board for job seekers who are members of underrepresented groups, such as women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans. Just because a job board touts itself as having the most up-to-date postings doesn't mean that your job search should only consist of writing cover letters and sending resumes to employers that advertise their openings.
Cold-calling will increase your chances of accessing jobs that aren't posted online. Almost 80 percent of jobs aren't advertised, according to Matt Youngquist, president of Career Horizons. In a February 2011 segment of NPR titled, "A Successful Job Search: It's All About Networking," Youngquist suggested that just dedicating your focus to an online job search, hoping to get the first crack at a recently posted opening, might not lead to a job interview, but that networking can be the key to a successful search for employment. Construct a cold-call script and place calls to companies that interest you. Calling companies that post their jobs vacancies online isn't cold-calling.
Aside from checking job board aggregators' positions that are advertised on multiple sites and creating a separate list of companies that don't have jobs posted, your job search must include networking. The old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," rings true in many instances and cold-calling is probably the purest form of networking a job seeker can do to get an interview. Networking is an effective job-search technique that can result in interviews and, ultimately, job offers, based on a combination of your skills, qualifications and your professional circles. Don't limit yourself to cold-calling using the telephone. Initiate conversations with people at professional networking events so you make a full impression and not just the voice of a potential candidate who looks good on paper.
Job seekers send unsolicited cover letters and resumes all the time. Sometimes they're tailored to address a specific company representative and others are simply part of the job seeker's mass mailing, hoping one of the resumes hits a bull's-eye and lands on the recruiter's or hiring manager's desk. If you're going to cold-call for a job interview, personalize your approach. Don't stuff copies of your resume into envelopes, paste mailing labels on them and dispatch them to any and every company. Contact the company's human resources department to get the hiring manager's name and title. Never transmit your resume with a cover letter addressed to, "Whom It May Concern." Target the reader to capture her attention, a key strategy in cold-calling.
Follow up on unsolicited resumes with personal calls to each company. Call the company and politely ask for the manager of the department to which your resume was directed. To begin the conversation, you could say, "Hello, Ms. Smith, I'm John Doe, a veteran in the medical equipment sales industry. I'm calling to let you know that I just mailed a copy of my resume to you. When you have time for an informational interview, I'd be delighted to meet with you." If the hiring manager says there aren't any current openings, ask if you could just meet to discuss the company and any future openings in your line of work.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.