January 12, 2012

The Art of Job-Hunting: Lesson 2 – Building Your Network

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Written by: Ahmed Malik
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4. Cold-Calling

Cold-calling is one of the best, yet most challenging, techniques of networking. Remember from Lesson 1, that contact via phone is the most effective method of initiating contact with employers. Cold-calling is commonly used by skilled salespeople, but is just as useful when looking for jobs. Cold-calling is challenging because it requires calling a complete stranger and making an initial pitch. There are many advantages of using cold-calling. It is the best way to get in touch with the decision-maker at a company (i.e. the HR Manager or a CEO). It gives them a chance to know you exist. More importantly, from the employer’s perspective, it shows that you are confident and can show initiative (skills that all employers look for in employees).

There are a few things to remember to make when using cold-calling:

(i)                  Prepare

Lesson 1 comes in hand here. Before picking up that phone, make sure you have done your research about the company and know exactly what you are looking for (recall the “plan”). Doing your homework can save you from getting stumped if the phone call turns in to a mini-interview. Have a short script prepared which lists your greeting, your purpose for calling and any questions you may have.

(ii)                Find the Decision-maker

Your cold-call is wasted if you end up speaking to a receptionist or someone not in charge of hiring. Use your research or make a preliminary call to find out who the HR Manager or CEO of the company is. You want to cut out the middleman and make your pitch directly to the people responsible for hiring at the company.

(iii)               Be Confident

Calling a complete stranger can be a frightening task especially when coupled with the fear of rejection. The best way to overcome the fear of rejection is to accept rejection it as a reality and adopt a nothing-to-lose/everything-to-gain mentality. Being prepared and rehearsing can help you get over some of the jitters.

When you are ready to make the call, speak with confidence and enthusiasm. You have a very short amount of time to make a positive impression.  Your goal is to grab the employer’s attention long enough to convince him/her to give you an interview or a follow-up meeting.

(iv)              Sell Yourself

You may catch the target of your call at a busy time. Let them know right away why you are calling them and ask them if this is a good time to speak to them. If not, ask them when you can try them again. When they are ready to speak to you, use your time efficiently. Once again, your goal is to get an appointment to speak to them in more detail. Give them a brief introduction about yourself and tell them that you would like to meet them to discuss some opportunities. If the call is for a part-time/retail job, then it may be enough to ask if they are hiring. If you are looking for a career position, then you want to build a relationship with them. In this case, don’t ask about job postings, but rather show an interest in their company and create intrigue.




About the Author

Ahmed Malik
Mississauga born and raised, Ahmed has lived in Vancouver for the past ten years but continues to be a loyal sports fan of all teams from Toronto. Ahmed attended University of British Columbia for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science, then went on to complete his Law Degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Currently, Ahmed is articling at a business law firm in Saskatchewan.



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