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Telephone Job Seeker’s Effective Tool

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Telephone campaign is an approach which is so effective and yet so few individual job seekers use it. Where else can you interrupt a conversation and obtain immediate response? If we ever did in person what the telephone does, we would be considered extremely rude. Yet, when that telephone rings, we drop everything and answer it.

An effective telephone campaign should be used simultaneously with your resume campaign. Select certain companies to which you will send your resume, and others which you will call. Any system for dividing those to call and those to write that you are comfortable with is fine. Use the same research materials and appropriate names as you will in your resume mailings, only for different companies.

Keep in mind, though, that there is an advantage to calling the local companies as opposed to the long distance ones. One obvious advantage is the savings in your telephone bill.



If your company is aware that you are leaving, they may provide you with a desk, phone, and perhaps even access to the WATS line. In fact, a telephone campaign almost has to be done when you are either on vacation, have left your present employer, or when they know you are looking. How else would you have time to make the calls unless you worked a second or third shift.

A second reason for concentrating, if at all possible, your telephone campaign locally is that when you call an employer long distance, chances are the best you can hope for is that he requests your resume and gets back to you. There are occasions when, if you happen to hit the employer at the right time with the right pitch, he may just tell you to hop on a plane for an interview. The latter is the exception though, when long distances are involved.

When you telephone a company within a reasonable driving distance, your goal should be for your contact to invite you directly in for an interview. Some may still request a resume, even though they are interested, but the majority of employers should set up an interview.

A. How to Get Through to the Decision Maker

Remember, when selecting who to call, choose the one who can hire you and will benefit the most.

When the secretary answers, your conversation might go like this: "Hello, John Doe please." Avoid asking for "Mr. Doe." This will only suggest that you do not know Mr. Doe. You want to avoid, if at all possible, the third degree from John Doe's secretary. If she senses that you know him, she may put you through without any further questions. You want to come across as sincere, and with a controlled confidence, but yet not too informal or presumptuous.

If she asks you more than your name, it may sound like this:

"What is this in reference to?" You answer, "It's personal." Nine times out of ten the personal call approach will work. Secretaries are hesitant about meddling in their boss's personal affairs.

If she does not put you through at this point, she will usually respond with "Does Mr. Doe know you?" What you answer here and how you answer is extremely delicate. One answer might be "yes" and pray that she accepts it and puts you through. She is also liable to tell her boss that you know him, and in that case when asked by the boss, "Did you tell my secretary that you knew me?" you might just answer "because my call is of a personal and confidential nature, and she was so efficiently screening me [it does not hurt to lightly compliment the boss's secretary] I thought it would be easier to say I know you."

When asked, "will Mr. Doe know who you are?" by the secretary, you might answer simply, "No." Be firm and confident when answering "No." If she then asks "May I tell Mr. Doe what this call is in reference to?" Your answer might be, "I'm sorry, but it is a personal matter." This is the second time you have told her that your call is of a personal nature. By this time she should put you through to the boss. If she comes back with something like "I am sorry, but I screen all of Mr. Doe's calls." Do not fight it--life is too short. . . .

Explain to her that you are employed with a competitor in a key position, and you heard that her boss is expanding the department and may be interested in hiring someone with your type of background. Now there might be a good chance that the boss is thinking about hiring an additional member for his department. Your call just may fertilize the idea. He has not got around to writing up a job requisition yet, but having a qualified candidate call him from a competitor may be all he needs to get the ball rolling. He will definitely at least talk to you.

Even if he was not thinking about hiring any additional help, the mere fact that his secretary tells him that you heard they were expanding should prompt him to talk to you. It is a good, positive subject and everyone enjoys talking about pleasant subjects.

If the boss is unavailable, or out of his office, have him return your call either at home or on a private line. You may even consider hiring an answering service to receive your messages during your job campaign. Answering services can be hired for short term periods and are usually most reasonable in price, especially when you consider the positive results which can be gained by using them.

If you are with a competitor, he may feel uncomfortable having a confidential conversation with you once your switchboard operator answers as his friendly competitor. You want him as comfortable and relaxed as possible. If you do not have a private line, an answering service, or someone at home to take the message- leave word that you will call back.

B. Selling Yourself to the Decision Maker

You might say something like this: "Hello, John Doe, my name is Jim Smith [refer to the boss as 'Mr. Doe' if you know him to be significantly older than you], and I am presently employed as a plant manager [assuming you are a plant manager] with another company in your industry. I understand that your company is expanding, and may have some opportunities for candidates with my background." As mentioned previously, you just might be motivating him to do a little expanding. Every executive likes to feel that his company is expanding-so if he says "We are not," then take his word for it. If he answers "Yes, we are, and we are always looking for well-qualified candidates" then you might ask him specifically "what backgrounds in particular are you looking for?" He may reply with a specific job description or just general backgrounds. In any event, you have him talking to you about his needs and plans.

After you feel that the prospective boss has given you some clues as to his department needs, then you might describe your background and why it might fit what he is looking for.

If the prospective boss asks on the telephone "Why are you looking?" be very positive in your answer. Do not say "I am looking because I hate my boss and my crummy job." Although you may feel that way, you must indicate to the prospective boss that you are not really looking, but you thought there might be some excellent opportunities with his company due to the planned expansion you heard about. You are simply giving his company an opportunity to consider you for their future plans without making any specific commitments.

If you sense that he is interested in your background, then suggest that the two of you meet for a confidential preliminary discussion. He may beat you to the punch and request it first, but if he does not, don't be bashful. As everyone knows in the field of sales, if you do not ask for the order, you will not get the sale.

If he states that his personnel department does all the hiring, ask him if he has submitted a recent job requisition to them. If the answer is "no" then go on to your next call. But first ask him if he knows of any appropriate leads for you to explore, considering your background.

Quite frequently, an employer will turn you down.

If the answer is "yes", ask him for the name of the appropriate individual in personnel to talk to. Also ask if you may use his name. This is very important, because if you call the Personnel Manager cold, you may get nowhere, but if you indicate that "John Doe, the Vice President, asked that I call you about setting up an interview"you practically have your foot in the door.

A word of caution: If nothing further is expected from this contact, do not forget to emphasize that your company is unaware that you would even consider another opportunity, and therefore you would appreciate it if he would keep your conversation extremely confidential.

Again, there is an element of risk, but in order to make gains, sometimes we have to take calculated risks.

Even if there is interest on the part of the prospective boss, it does not hurt to emphasize the confidentiality of the matter. By doing this, you are also telling him that you are still gainfully employed... nothing wrong with that.

C. Cover a Lot of Territory in a Short Period

Many companies are just beginning to realize how efficient the telephone can be. There have been numerous cost studies indicating that the telephone is an extremely economical tool for companies to use. Where a salesman would make ten in-person calls per day-by using the telephone to prospect, he could make forty to fifty calls per day.

Many salesmen qualify prospects on the telephone and then set up the appointments. This obviously saves a lot of time.

Admittedly, there are some products and services which lend themselves to cold telephone calling much better than others.

Think of the employment agency industry--they use the telephone successfully all day long. They call employers cold and pitch applicants. In your case, you would be pitching yourself--which should be a lot easier. Nobody knows your own qualifications as you do. At least, the employer knows there is no fee attached.

The executive search industry uses the telephone extensively to recruit candidates. I would estimate that over ninety-five percent of all candidates recruited are initially approached on the telephone. I personally make an average of over forty recruiting calls per day. In addition there are the incoming calls. Do as the professionals do and take advantage of the telephone.
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