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August 26, 2014 > Do Cold Calls Work for Getting a Job?

Do Cold Calls Work for Getting a Job?

By Anne Chan, PhD, MFT

A job-hunter (letÕs call her Belinda Brave) is desperate for job Ð she has a spiffy resume which she sends out at least once a day, in response to job ads posted on her top 3 favorite job sites. Wanting to feel like sheÕs doing everything possible to land a job, Belinda decides to reach out to companies she would love to work at. In other words, she is trying the Òcold callÓ approach to job searching. She makes a list of twenty companies she is interested in. Wanting to be super productive one Monday morning, she sends the following email to all twenty companies:

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Belinda Brave. I am very eager to work at your company. Since I graduated from college, I have dreamt about being a part of your company.

IÕm a hard worker, dedicated team player have many years of work experience that I can contribute to your company. I am looking forward to being a part of your company and grow personally and profesionally with you.

Please email me if you have any job openings.

I am attaching my resume for your consideration. Please call me at (510)123-4567 to set up an interview. I look forward to meeting with you!

Sincerely, Belinda Brave

Belinda waits . . . and waits . . . and waits. She doesnÕt hear a peep from any of the twenty companies. She concludes that the cold call approach is worthless and goes back to cruising job sites.

Some of you might sympathize with BelindaÕs story Ð maybe youÕve tried cold calling yourself and failed miserably. Or youÕve been cold-called and you canÕt stand solicitations.

But before dismissing cold calls altogether, letÕs do a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking and examine BelindaÕs scenario. Can you spot at least three things that she should have done or not done in her email?

HereÕs my list of BelindaÕs critical mistakes that doomed her to failure:

1. Sent an email to ÒTo Whom It May ConcernÓ (sending an email without a specific target pretty much ensured that her email would be ignored).
2. Wrote a generic note that did not show an understanding of the companyÕs unique needs and concerns.
3. Sounded like a generic candidate with worn-out phrases like Òhard workerÓ and Òdedicated team player.Ó
4. Gave the impression that she expected the company to do her work for her when she used the phrase Òemail me if you have any job openings.Ó
5. Wrote sloppily and carelessly, thus indicating that she was not someone who was conscientious about her work (see if you can spot her typos).

You are right if you are starting to think that itÕs tricky business to do cold-calling. But before you ditch it altogether, let me share the true story of a new college graduate (IÕll call her ÒCareful CaryÓ) who made one cold call and successfully landed a dream job.

Cary graduated from an out-of-state college and was hoping to work in the healthcare sector. She explored LinkedIn like her life depended on it, and came across an employee who worked at a hospital doing exactly the kind of job she wanted to do. She researched the hospital thoroughly, using the hospitalÕs website and other social media contacts, and she took careful notes of what the hospital needed and where the hospital and healthcare industry were poised to go. She then located the employeeÕs email through LinkedIn and sent a custom letter with a detailed bulleted list identifying exactly what the hospital needed and how she could fulfill the hospitalÕs needs. She made sure that the letter was extremely well written, with zero errors.

The fairy tale ending to this cold call story was she landed herself an interview (the first marker of a successful job search strategy). She interviewed well, and is at this very moment happily working in her dream company.

Cary is not the only person who has successfully utilized the cold call approach to land herself a job. I have personally known a number of people who have gotten jobs by sending a letter or email when a job was not posted. One of these people is me! When I started out in teaching, I sent a number of cold call letters to departments that I hoped to work at. One of these departments responded to my letter, hired me, and I worked in that department very happily for several years.

I hope these cold call success stories will inspire you, but before you start diving in and making the same mistakes as Belinda, here are some things to keep in mind for a successful cold call approach:

> Identify a company that you are completely passionate about. This is a specifically targeted approach, NOT one for sending out countless resumes.
> Research the company you wish to work at Ð what is their mission, their development goals, their customer base, their emerging markets, and their current challenges?
> Figure out who your contact person is going to be (you can search the company website as well as social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook). Getting the name of an actual person to contact will bump up your chances for success.
> Research your contact Ð see if you share any commonalities, such as hometown, college, or fraternities. Locate anything he/she has written and read their work to get to know them better.
> Write a customized email to this person showing how you could benefit them or the company (hereÕs where your research efforts come in). End your email with a line stating you will follow up with a phone call.
> Follow up when the time comes. Be ready to have a 5- and 10-minute conversation in which you showcase how you can help them.

Of course with any job search strategy, nothing is guaranteed and this is particularly true of the cold call approach. This is why I would only recommend using this approach only if you are extremely passionate about a particular company and are willing to do the intensive work needed. But the effort could be well worth it if you land your dream job in your dream company!

Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union City. She specializes in helping people find happiness in their careers, lives, and relationships. Her website is

© Anne Chan, 2014

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