There are two reasons why you would make a phone call to a potential employer. Maybe you’re applying online for an advertised position but you’d like to go the extra step, or maybe you just want to call and introduce yourself to try and get a foot in the door, even if they’re not currently advertising.
Either way, sometimes making phone calls are the hardest things for job seekers to do. Not everyone is confident on the phone and some people avoid phone calls altogether, preferring to email or talk to people face to face. Even if you do feel comfortable calling an organisation there are certain things you can do to improve your chances of success.
Calling a potential employer is often a great move to make. It demonstrates an extra level of confidence and initiative and it gives you the opportunity to not only make a personal connection, but hopefully to impress them on the call. Remember, people will form an immediate impression of you based on your tone of voice and telephone manner, so take heed of our advice. If you can pull it off, a good phone call may allow you to establish positive rapport with the hiring manager and put you a step ahead of the rest.
1. Make a list of companies
The first step is to put together a list of potential employers. There may be a few that you already know you want to work for, but there’s no harm in looking for other suitable organisations. You could even use the ones you’re not as keen on as practice for your top picks. Don’t just go by industry. You also want to look at what the company culture might be like and whether your personality would be a good fit. Also look for organisations that offer solid training and career progression.
Extra tip: Look for companies that are experiencing fast growth. If you can get in on a startup during the early days, you will have more of an opportunity to make an impact and contribute to the company’s growth – making you a crucial member of the team. Onwards and upwards for you!
2. Do your research and find contacts
Once you have your list, it’s time to hit up Google (for a start). You want to be checking out not only the company website, but any other potential source of valuable information. Think social media, LinkedIn, blogs, newsletters and industry news sources. What you are looking for is information on their key products and services, their operations, company culture etc. LinkedIn is probably the best way to find the best contact for each company. If you can’t find the right person, when you call the company ask the receptionist to speak to either the hiring manager or the head of the appropriate department.
3. Prepare and practice
Firstly, write out the key points you want to get across, as well as your key questions. Then, work these into a script. Our next point will help you with a structure for your script. Then, practice it as much as you can. You don’t want to sound like a robot and you do want to sound natural and confident. That will come with practice as you become more familiar with what you are saying. Base a few of your questions on information you have learnt up during your research. Asking well-thought out questions specific to their current operations is a great way to impress.
As you practice, remember to breathe deeply before you start to help you relax. It actually does help to smile as you are talking – trust us, they will hear the positive energy in your voice. You want to convey confidence and enthusiasm. It also helps to stand up when you make the call – it tends to add a slight edge of authority to your voice.
4. On the call
So first up you need to ask if now is a convenient time to speak. If not, arrange another time that is convenient for them. If they can talk now then great – get right into it. It should go a little something like this:
- Explain that you are calling about the job opening OR very interested in career opportunities at their organisation
- Give a brief (but impressive as you can) overview of your background
- Give one or two points that demonstrate you are a good fit for the company
- Ask one or two questions that demonstrate you’ve done your research
- Ask if you could make an appointment to come in and speak with someone in person
- Thank them for their time
Make sure you are courteous and polite to every person you speak to and be ready to write down any information they give you.
If you reach a voicemail, clearly state your name and number, and the purpose of your call. Repeat your phone number and make sure you sound friendly and confident.
5. Follow up
Always follow up by sending in your cover letter and resume. Your goal is an interview or face-to-face chat about the role/opportunities at the company.
Even if your call doesn’t land you the interview you want, don’t write it off as useless. It’s likely you’ve made a connection that could prove handy in the future. Think of your job search as more of an overall strategy that includes establishing relationships and growing your network.
If you’re still nervous about calling, just keep practicing, even try role playing with a friend. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel. Good luck!