As much as 80 percent of hiring is done so through networking and referrals. These positions never see an online job board nor find their way to print. They are awarded to the job seeker with persistence and drive; the candidate who doesn’t wait for an opportunity, but creates it. It is an undertaking commonly known as cold calling.

To succeed in converting cold calls into a job offer, an action plan is required. To begin, make a list. In fact, make two. The first, should detail those within your network that can aid you in your job search; family, friends, members of groups to which you belong and so forth. Let them know you are in the market for a new role as this may develop leads on potential jobs. The second is a list of the companies that you would like to work for. It is the names that appear on this list that you need to research.

Prior to contacting your next ideal employer, undertake a search on their business. You may discover they are opening a new branch in your area, expanding into a market that you have a wealth of experience within, or taking their product overseas. Understanding the direction in which a company is moving can help you to define what is involved in the type of work you’re looking for within their business, and why you would be an excellent choice in representing their brand. You also want to identify, if you can, the key people within the organisation to commence the hiring conversation. Include what you discover within your action plan.

When you are certain of whom to contact, email your resume and a blind cover letter stating that you would like to explore employment opportunities with the company. You may choose to connect directly with department managers rather than their human resources team as they may have more influence in gaining you an interview.  Follow up your communication with a phone call. Ensure you call at a convenient time. Calls made at peak trade and lunch hours will not get you your contacts full attention. When you do make contact, have your cold calling kit at the ready; pen or computer to take notes, copy of your resume and cover letter, employer notes and website at hand, and a copy of your script. Yes, you need a script.

Before you pick up the phone, know what you are going to say. Compose a script. Your script will help you to keep on track, remembering what to say and giving you more confidence and greater clarity when speaking. Your script will outline a brief introduction, an explanation for your call and an overview of your experience. If you’re feeling nervous, practice a few calls with a trusted friend beforehand. Your aim in speaking with your contact is to convert the cold call to an appointment. If they’re too busy to talk long, offer to schedule a time to talk in person at their office. Alternatively confirm that you will call back in a couple of weeks and/or forward further information as discussed. Keep a record of your actions in your plan. In preparing for the anticipated rejection, present for their consideration your skills as a product that the employer could benefit from in the future. You did your homework, remember? You know why you would be a strong asset in helping them to realise their future goals.

You may have another formula for making contact, yet regardless of how you choose to make your initial and subsequent communications, be persistent. This is a demonstration of enthusiasm and commitment. It is likely it will also set you apart from other cold callers as most will give up after the first hurdle. Your aim is to get on their radar and stay there. A face-to-face cold call shows initiative and confidence and can make it easier to make a good and lasting impression. And a direct free flowing conversation always draws more useful information.

Cold calling is a numbers game. You will experience many failed calls before succeeding. To avoid frustration from knock backs and repetition, schedule five to ten cold calls per week. This will help you to stay fresh and motivated. Ask them what they look for in an employee, where they advertise their roles and if they know of other companies looking for staff. While each contact you speak with may not be able to give you the opportunity you’re looking for, they may provide you with a fresh lead.

It is important in the cold calling game to be prepared for rejection. It is also important not to take it personally. Each call is simply one call closer to taking the next positive step in your career. Taking a proactive approach to expanding your job prospects will put you in front of many other job seekers who are content with simply scanning the job boards. Employers understand the effort it takes to knock on their door and ask for a job and will soon reward you for your extra efforts. Remember, it’s about those two highly sought after job characteristics…persistence and drive. Now go get ‘em!

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