Cold Calling for Entry Level Jobs


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This post was written by Rob Dusel. He is a graduate of Cornell University (B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations) and the University of Cambridge (MPhil in Land Economy). Rob currently works for an international real estate investment fund and will be an occasional contributor to One Day, One Job.

So far at One Day, One Job, Willy has provided some great advice about how to use the Internet in your job search, but sometimes the perfect job just isn’t to be found online. In fact, for a huge number of new college graduates, this turns out to be the case. One Day, One Job showcases some of the best and most interesting entry-level jobs that can be found on the web today, but quite often the cutting edge, niche firms that job seekers dream about simply don’t have the time or staff to monitor an online job posting. Without a dedicated employee to sift through resumes and answer questions, companies often end up hiring on a “we need someone today” basis. Unless you put yourself out there by cold calling, you simply won’t have a chance at getting hired in one of these situations.

So what’s a doom and gloom post like this is doing on a website that is supposed to be touting the benefits of the Internet in the job search? The answer to that question is that even though most firms’ jobs aren’t on the web, most firms are. Everyone knows that any company looking to be successful in today’s global market needs to have a web presence, and that has made it easier than ever to find employers in your field. With a few hours of Internet research it is easy to make a short list of your dream companies – even if they aren’t advertising the fact that they’re hiring.

What to Look For

When we taught you How to Use Google to Find a Job, we focused on helping you form your searches with job-related keywords. When you’re looking for companies that might not do their recruiting online, you have to change up the way you search. Instead of looking at companies like you’re a job seeker, you need to search from the point of view of a potential customer. Many companies devote all of their marketing energy to acquiring clients or customers, so that’s how you have to find them. If you want to work at a boutique consulting firm, think like a corporation that would be looking to retain such a firm. If your dream job is at a small trade publication, search for them like you’re a potential subscriber. By taking this search approach, you’ll find companies doing what they do best (selling themselves), and the process certainly won’t be as frustrating as it is when you are specifically seeking out, and not finding, career-related information. Even better, this type of research will leave you well prepared to make an impressive introduction that could lead to an interview and even a job.

Once you have your list down and have visited the websites of your top choices, it is time to plan your attack. If the company has entry-level jobs listed, then your next step is easy – you apply; however, if the company has no jobs page, all of their jobs require significant experience, or their career information is outdated, then you’ll have to step outside the safety and comfort of the web and its sense of anonymity. You’re going to have to contact, possibly even speak, to a real live person. Yes, I said it, speak to a real person. But let’s not jump the gun.

How to Figure Out Whom to Contact

What I have been driving at is that just because jobs aren’t posted doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and sometimes taking that extra bit of initiative can pay off. Although you may be utterly terrified, there is absolutely nothing wrong with contacting companies cold to ask about job opportunities. There are a few ways to do this.

If you can, try to find a Human Resources contact, since they’re the ones typically charged with doing the hiring. Look at the company’s About, Contact, and Staff Bios pages. These often have names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, or contact forms that will enable you to find the right person to reach out to. If you can find names, but no e-mail addresses, don’t be afraid to try LinkedIn (or even Facebook) to get contact information. A Google search for the name can also turn up an e-mail address, phone number, or even a mailing address that will allow you to introduce yourself. If an HR contact isn’t available, try to pick someone whom you think you might have something in common with or who works in your particular area of interest. You might even want to aim for contacting the person who would be your boss if you were to get hired. Additionally, if you are facing challenges like addressing unjust job dismissal, seeking guidance from a mentor within the company or reaching out to employee assistance programs can also be valuable avenues to explore.

Some would say that you’re better off skipping contacting HR and going straight to the managers who might be hiring. We’d say that it’s probably a higher risk and higher reward strategy. You are more likely to irritate the person and be totally ignored (it’s not part of their job to talk to you), but if you impress them, you’re much more likely to land the job. Make of that what you will.

What to Say

Once you have found your contact of choice, send them a short, but friendly, e-mail saying that you are very interested in their company and you’d like to know if they have open positions or keep resumes on file. This e-mail is crucial and it should include three main parts:

  1. 1. A short, polite introduction of your intent (you want a job!).
  2. 2. A personalization of why you chose to contact the particular company and person (nobody likes a form letter).
  3. 3. A hook that will make them remember you, even if they don’t have a job for you at the moment. Tell them about your first-rate degree, relevant work experience, or your genuine desire to learn at their great company. Telling a short, but intriguing story can also be extremely effective.

If you get an e-mail back, great, if not, you can always follow-up with another e-mail a few weeks later. Or you can simply move on to the next company. Calling on the first try is also an option, but this is usually only a good idea if you are sure the company has an HR coordinator. It is part of a Human Resources Director’s job to field calls from prospective candidates, but most others in the company would not consider it part of their job description. In small offices, especially, cold calls are likely to get stopped dead at the receptionist – that’s what they’re there for. Transitioning to the next point, it’s important to consider employee workload. By delegating call handling to a specialized service, staff can concentrate on more strategic activities. It’s a strategy that not only saves time but also improves customer interactions. Reliable services offering professional call management and time-saving solutions for businesses have proven invaluable. Unless you are a serious sweet talker, e-mail is probably the best bet. The waiting game after sending an e-mail can be nerve-wracking, but at least you won’t get cut off at the pass.

In conclusion, this strategy is not for the easily discouraged, but it can lead to some great results. Contacting a company directly shows that you have ambition and personal initiative, and it has the potential to seriously impress the right person. Receiving an e-mail out of the blue might get someone to start thinking about how they could use an extra person around the office, even if they hadn’t been planning to hire anyone. Don’t get discouraged if you get turned down, because it will happen a lot. Remember, it only takes one contact to land the perfect job, and that job may only be one e-mail away.

Thanks to Flickr user H G M for allowing the use of the photo in this post through the Creative Commons License.

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5 responses to “Cold Calling for Entry Level Jobs”

  1. matt says:

    Great post.. I will try this for me.

  2. tina says:

    Great advice. Even though I have most experience getting shafted by receptionists, I didn’t realize until you told us.

  3. Panagiotis says:

    This post is great advice. I will be more aggresive with my job search with this approach.

  4. Destiny says:

    Your advice is great. I was one of those people who imagined that the jobs I wanted were all listed online. Thank you so much. This will be a great addition to my job searching strategies.

  5. Ilya Kipnis says:

    The only two opportunities I got were through cold calling. However, in most cases, any sufficiently large company will just get you shafted by receptionists.

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