Calling Potential Contacts

Posted by Dawn Boyer

In every human being, there is an intrinsic part that wants to help others. There is also an intrinsic part that prompts us to reach out to ask for help. In this digital age, sometimes it works to pick up the phone and talk directly to potential connections.

But when job seekers are looking for new career positions, that reaching out part may go into over-drive and could possibly prompt bad decisions or actions. Making cold-calls must be done with a purpose, and with the intent not to bother the callee. Choose your targets judiciously to make sure a phone call is the best approach.

When calling potential connections stop before you pick up the phone and ask, ‘What am I going to ask this person for?’ It’s not simply asking the person for a job lead, a name, phone number, or email, you are also demanding them to stop what they are doing to help you by picking up the phone. So what is it in for them? If you’re emailing or connecting via LinkedIn, ask yourself the same question.

You do not want to take them away from productive work time. Be careful about the time of day or evening you are making the phone call. Do you have a mutual colleague? Do you have anything to offer the callee in return for information? What problems might they have where you have the capability to solve, or whom do you know that can solve their problem?

If you are not sure if any time of day is convenient for them, make a phone call at night, and leave a voice mail message. Pronounce your name clearly and repeat the phone number twice before leaving a message. It’s an elevator speech – less than 30 seconds to state your case and your reason for calling. If you do not leave a reason, they may never respond. They will assume since you didn’t care to provide them enough information to help them make a time-management decision, your call may not have been important.

The best time to call during a weekday is afternoons between Tuesday and Thursdays and on Friday mornings. Mondays are when weekly internal business meetings usually occur. Everyone knows the upcoming weekend is a more important focus late on Friday afternoons. If you are going the voice mail route, call after 8:00 p.m. so they can jot the message on a notepad for their ‘to-do’ task list for the day.

What can you offer to the callee?

If you know the person is the recruiter or HR manager for an open position, note you have officially applied for the job via their required process (online or direct email). Note you are eager to resolve the problem of the job vacancy with your skill sets and experience. Be sure to let them know you understand they are busy and but just wanted to touch base so they will remember you when they pull up the resume.

If the person you reach is not HR or the hiring manager, let them know where you found their contact data. Ask them if they are familiar with the job opening or do they know the hiring manager? Is there an employee referral program for qualified candidates? If so, can you forward your resume so they can submit it for the position? Is there anyone to whom you can help them connect? What problems can you help them resolve?

Keep in mind the time-constraints of the person you are calling. While you may be unemployed with plenty of time, the person to whom you are reaching out may be working 10-hour days and drowning in work. No one will drop pressing work responsibilities to respond to a stranger – including reading resumes immediately, providing job search advice, or pointing the caller in the direction of open positions within the industry, but outside their company. Callers should not expect callees to drop everything to help without a ‘WIFM’ (what’s in it for me) reward.

When making cold or warm calls, sending emails or connecting via LinkedIn, be cognizant that time is precious in business. Your message should be precisely worded and brief. Complete the call quickly so the callee can get back to work. If you have been able to provide some resolution to their problems, make sure your recommendation has a heads up. Being considerate of other people’s time and work priorities is very important when making that career-related inquiry.

Dawn Boyer is a career services coach, social media management, human resources, and business development consultant. Follow Dawn on Twitter @Dawn_Boyer.


This entry was posted on Monday, November 25, 2013 7:05 am

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