CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Cold calling tips that work

By Shawn Mintz
Special to The Toronto Sun

Cold calling, networking and knocking on doors, on my! Three very scary methods to find work, but they are the most effective, have the highest success rates and produce real results.

In this article we will tackle cold calling, which is the most successful strategy for finding work (it has a 69% success rate).

Talking to the Receptionist

"Hi. Good morning. How are you today?"

This is a good opening. When speaking with the receptionist your objective is to build a good relationship with him/her. In order to do this you need to portray confidence in your voice.

"Would you please tell me who the manager in charge of (marketing, engineering, finance, etc.) is? Thank you. Would you please transfer my call?"

Now that you have built a good relationship with the receptionist, he or she may be more likely to give you the information you require.

Receptionists are trained to send job seekers to the human resources department, where they screen applicants; however, your objective is to speak to the manager in charge of your department. Why?Because they make the decisions. Once you get that person's name, you can thank the receptionist and call back later. If you feel comfortable enough, you can ask the receptionist to transfer your call.

If the receptionist asks for the purpose of your call, have a response ready. Responses could include: you are preparing correspondence, you would like to set up a meeting or you are updating your database. If you say you are looking for work, the receptionist will likely forward you to the human resources department.

After finding the manager's name through the receptionist, company directory or website, plan out your cold call. Place your call between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., because the receptionist hasn't started working yet and there's a good chance the manager is at his (or her) desk, organizing his day.

Talking to the manager

"Good morning. My name is ..."

Introduce yourself and say something positive about the company -- people always like to hear good things about the place they work. Always listen to the manager's voice for clues on how to handle this phone conversation and if you hear he is rushing the conversation, you may want to say: "It sounds like you are very busy right now. When would be a better time to call you back?"

It is important to let the person know what your occupation is; for example, "I am a communications and marketing specialist." If you are too general and say you are looking for any kind of work, it becomes difficult for that person to assist you.

Now it's time for your sales pitch to the employer; for example, "I have successfully created a strong brand identity for an employment service that helps newcomers to Canada find work within their field of expertise."

Tell the employer a few of your accomplishments. Each conversation will be different; however, the goal of your cold call is not necessarily to get a job but to set up a meeting with this individual:

"I was wondering if I could meet you for just 15 minutes to learn about your company and talk about my qualifications."

If the employer says no or gives an excuse, don't give up; be persistent and say:

"I understand that you are not hiring right now. I would still really like to meet with you. When would be a good time?"

Still no luck? Here's one more question:

"Do you know of anyone else who could benefit from someone with my skills?"

Each employer knows other people in the industry and they may be able to refer you to one of his contacts. Thank the employer for his time and send him an e-mail as a means of follow up -- this person is potentially becoming a part of your network.

You are going to get rejected when you make cold calls -- but don't give up and feel that this method doesn't work. You should make 20 calls a day in order to get one interview. Keep an open mind. The next person you call may be the one who helps you succeed.

Shawn Mintz works for Accessible Community Counselling and Employment Services (ACCES) an employment and training agency that offers a wide range of free employment services.

ACCES will assist you with calling and meeting employers. Call: Mississauga 905-361-2522; Toronto 416-921-1800; Scarborough 416-431-5326

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