by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
There are many avenues of job-hunting for joseekers looking for full-time employment to follow. Online job searches are the popular option, but there are traditional methods of job-hunting. What is an effective method of job-seeking? Cold calling potential employers can be quite effective if you follow the steps outlined in this article.
Cold calling, or uninvited job-hunting, is a proven method of finding employment. When you consider that four-fifths of the job market is "closed," meaning you can't find out about available job openings unless you dig for them -- prospect for them, this method of job-hunting takes on great importance. That digging, as well as all aspects of the process that follows, is what this article is all about.
The first step to cold-calling is compiling a list of all companies that you might be interested in working for -- and don't worry if the list is a long one. In fact, it is better to have a longer list than a shorter one since your odds increase as your list gets longer.
You could gather this list of companies by focusing on a specific geographic area, a specific industry, a ranking of the best companies to work for, or any other method. Check out our Directory of Companies -- or our Guide to Researching Companies for more help. The point of this step is gathering a list of companies that you are interested in working for.
The second step in the process is gathering the names of the people who have the power to offer you a job. This step is accomplished by calling each company's main number and asking the receptionist (or department assistant) for the name and title of the hiring manager in your field of expertise.
Don't let them give you the name of the Human Resources manager (unless that is the department where you are trying to get a job) because your first point of contact should be with the hiring manager in your field. This step is essential -- you must get a name and title. Many hiring managers have said they throw away any letter that is not addressed to them by name. Be persistent.
The third step in the process is writing a dynamic cover letter. While you may be sending out a great many letters, make sure that each letter is individualized by addressing each to a named individual, and, if possible, saying something about the company to showcase that you've done some homework about the company.
Remember that your cover letter is extremely important during the cold-calling process since it serves as the point of first contact with the employer.
If you don't have much experience writing cover letters, then spend some time with our free cover letter writing tips -- or our other cover letter resources. Enclose a clean copy of your resume with each letter you mail. Freshen up your resume skills with our in-depth how to write a resume guide.
The fourth step in the process is contacting the people you wrote to in the third step. For many people, this step is the hardest. It means getting on the phone and contacting these people and asking for a job interview. Be persistent, even if the potential employer says there are no current job openings, but do not be rude or too pushy.
If the person is unwilling to grant you a job interview, you should request an informational interview, where you can gain more knowledge of the field -- and perhaps get the names of more people to contact. Your goal should be to get as many interviews with potential employers as possible.
Even if the majority of them say there are no current openings, interviewing with them gives you the opportunity to dazzle them -- and then ask for referrals to other employers who might have job openings available. Make sure you are best prepared for these interviews by checking out some of our job interviewing resources, including our job interviewing tutorial. You can also conduct at least one follow-up by letter/email -- see our Job-Seeker Cold-Contact Follow-Up letter template.
Final Thoughts on Cold Calling to Job-Search Success
If you follow all these steps -- along with all the other rules of job-hunting (the Domino Effect, phone manners, dress for success, and thank-you letters) -- you'll find cold calling to be a successful tool in your overall job-hunting strategy.
Additional Resources for Jobseekers:
- Guide to Job Interviewing Resources and Tools
- How to Write a Resume: Expert Answers 19 Common Questions
- LiveCareer Free Resume Builder
- 13 Best Resume Designs of 2018