Can the Right Kind of Cold Calling Still Get You a Good Job?
9 Pages
English
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Can the Right Kind of Cold Calling Still Get You a Good Job?

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Learn all about the services we offer
9 Pages
English

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Can the Right Kind of Cold Calling Still Get You a Good Job? Michael Mofa ® &DQ WKH 5LJKW .

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Published 07 July 2016
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Can the Right Kind of Cold Calling Still Get You a Good Job?
Michael Mofa
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Can the Right Kind of Cold Calling Still Get You a Good Job? byMichael MoffaMay 11, 2016 Cold calling to get a job—perhaps the most proactive (even if not the most productive) form of job hunting—can work, indeed, work very well. I know—from ample personal experience (although not recently, since I haven't been looking the past few years nor in North America). Among the personal lifetime coldcall successes I can enumerate are jobs as a Tokyobased national newspaper columnist, cartoonist and feature writer; a graduate program lecturer at a highlyranked Chinese university; a cubreporter job offer from the leading Saskatoon daily (albeit a very long time ago and one of the offers I declined, after reconsidering the city's flat terrain and harsh climate); various gigs as a lounge pianist; a teaching position at a posh Torontoneighborhood private school; and a midholiday offroad offer to manage a Canadian helicopterskiing oriented hotel (another which I declined, this time from lack of interest and credentials, even though the owner was, as I suspected, also receptive to having a shortterm visiting pianist as “Plan B”). But since none of these experiences is very recent (the last having been in 2009), the obvious question is “Well, what about now?” Does cold calling still work—and if so, with what sorts of approaches, tactics, enterprises and jobs? After all, a lot has changed or disappeared since the advent of the digital communications age, so it is fair and useful to ask whether cold calling has become as obsolete, weird, inefficient, risky and ineffective as a 19thcentury coldbox refrigeration or primitive Cold Warera spy telecommunications. The good news is that, according to an April 22, 2014 Forbes article,“How Cold Calling Can   Land You a Job”,cold calling still works. The author, Susan Adams—a Forbes staff writer—has this to say about it: “Robert Hellmann, 51, a New York City career coach with a decade of experience, says that a good 40% of his clients have landed jobs with a method that’s counterintuitive: They decide where they want to work and then they reach out to the person who they think would be in a position to hire them, while being honest about the fact that they have no connection to the person or company. In other words, they make a cold call.” Hellman's biomentions that his insights and commentary have appeared in media outlets such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, CNNMoney, ABC News, NBC News, WPIX News, MSNBC.com, Consumer Reports and Glassdoor.com, among many others. So, his expert's cold calling tips merit listing and assessment as a primer on the art of 21stcentury, digitalage cold calling. ColdCall Strategies and Tactics: What Can Work?
Hellman's key suggestions, distilled from his experience, expertise and intuitions, regarding the coldcall target, timing, content, resources and presentation comprise the following: 1. "Decide where you want to work and research the best contact there. If you are a highlevel executive, it makes sense to reach out to the CEO. If you’re lower down the ladder, figure out who is in charge of the division where you want to work." Of course, this is sound, logical advice, especially in an age in which information access is as readily available, easy and instantaneous as it is nowadays. Finding out who to contact was much more difficult back in the day when a landline phone, the Yellow Pages, the ninth hole and bar stools were the tools and avenues of first and limited choice. In those days, merely identifying the appropriate contact could be challenging enough; being able to not only confirm both the prospective contact's role and contact information in some independent way, but to also be able to gather additional, often very detailed information about that individual in a matter of seconds, e.g., on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., was virtually impossible. It may not be much of an exaggeration to suggest that in some instances the only way to find out about some key personnel in the predigital age was probably from their obituaries. 2."Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and the company website to get contact info. Many people list their contact info on their LinkedIn or Facebook pages. Company websites frequently include directories. Switchboards will often give out direct dial numbers and extensions." While this is, digitally speaking, also commonsense advice, there are inherent risks as well as opportunities embedded in it—especially in connection with using (or not using) the “switchboard” as the access point. With a smaller company, the “switchboard”, i.e., whoever answers the phone, may provide not only contact information, but also the opportunity to express, elicit or explore interest and possibilities with someone who may either help grease the path into an interview, provide valuable intel, or (unwittingly) reveal valid reasons to not bother. That makes the switchboard approach a potential trove for“datamining”, so to speak, and tool for selfpresentation, if not also schmoozing. However, if you reach the “wrong person”, e.g., someone who may perceive you as a rival (and therefore attempt to block or discourage you), a rankandfile employee impatient to head out for lunch who stonewalls or more or less hangs up on you, someone who is illinformed or misinformed about job openings or management receptivity to applications, this direct approach may not only be unfruitful, but also counterproductive. On the other hand, in cold calling smaller enterprises, you may fortuitously get the head honcho him(her)self—an absolute impossibility if you call a Fortune 500 switchboard. At that end of the size scale, at the largest or even just very large companies, which have generalswitchboard operators or fulltime receptionists, you are virtually certain to get only the
contact information, if only because they will be busier and have very little knowledge of value to you or any interest in exploring anything with you. But the inbetween scenario, e.g, placing a call to a mediumsized company with a sympathetic or unguarded receptionist, you may get lucky and get not only the information you need, but also a patch to a chat with the boss. 3.“Write a specific subject line for your email. Come up with a phrase or sentence that will make the reader want to open the email, like 'discuss development and fundraising', or your AdWeek article about sales strategies”. LinkedIn can also show you whether you have any contacts in common and those can produce good subject lines, like 'we’re both connected to Susan Adams and Fred Allen'.” Obviously, the subject line should be specific, because busy people will be put off by and perhaps even suspicious of general, vague, ambiguous or otherwise nonspecific subjects that clearly suggest that further effort will be required to prioritize, digest and assess the content of the email. So, steer clear of email subject lines like “An opportunity” or “Unique skills to offer you”. Even “discuss development and fundraising” fails this test. Is it a presumptuousdirective or exhortationthat will be read as having an implied exclamation mark (“discuss development s it apromise, like “Boost Your Energy Levels at and fundraising!”). Iof improved performance Work”, through a “how to” program outlined in the email? Is it arequestfor a discussion? Note the consistent capitalization, where appropriate, in this latter email subject, since this is standard. As a minimum,at least capitalize the first word, e.g., in “Request for further  information”, in contrast to the examples Hellmann gives, which are entirely lowercase.) Capitalization makes the email look more polished and, more importantly, as a minimum makes it clear that the subject line has not accidentally been truncated. (Because “discuss” is a verb in the given example, it can easily be taken to be missing some text.) Following the standard rules for capitalization of book titles is a commonly accepted, if not universally adopted option, e.g., “Request for Further Information”. On the other hand, even though capitalization of every letter, e.g., “REQUEST FOR FURTHER INFORMATION”, will make your email stand out and be easier to find in a full inbox, its associations with ransom notes, threats, Nigerian scams and venting make it inadvisable as a coldcall or other business email subject line format. Likewise, do not use exclamation marks unless your hair is literally on fire. To make sure that your subject line is specific, a more specific characterization of “specific” is required, namely, this: “precise, concise and accurate”. Despite any seeming equivalence among these, they are not the same. Consider these responses to “What time is it right now?”, when in fact it is 3:21:07 P.M., PDT (Pacific Daylight Time): ● “3:28 P.M., PDT”: This is sufficiently precise, reasonably concise, but not accurate, because it is off by seven minutes, despite the precise calibration to the second. ● “Around 3:30”: This is accurate (true) and very concise, but not precise.
● “3:21: 07 P.M., PDT”: This is perfectly precise, perhaps also too precise, but not accurate—since it takes more than a second to say or write, which means by the time the message is received, the time will be later than that, unless labeled as “time of transmission”. So, in your attempts to be specific, you will have to consider which aspect(s) of specificity to emphasize. You may actually want to sacrifice perfect precision if it compromises conciseness, or make the reverse sacrifice, and increase precision at the expense of brevity. In any case, avoid the combination of precision and easily detected inaccuracy, since that would ensure suspicion or at least the false expectation that you have been very careful and correct. An example of this is “Proposal from the #1 AlexaRanked Website”, when your email address is not associated with actual #1, Google. “Your AdWeek article about sales strategies”, although presumably accurate, also fails to meet these general standards of specificity, because it is neither as precise nor as concise as it could th be. “Your May 5 Ad Week SalesStrategy Article” is clearer (more precise), without being perceptibly longer. (If the month is typographically long, e.g., “February”, it may still be a better bet than a subject line that is more vague.) Anyway, “Your AdWeek SalesStrategy Article” is more concise and no less precise. In every case, and formatting aside, the key question you should ask when formulating a subject line is “Will this grab the kind of attention I want?” This means putting yourself in the shoes of the intended reader. This will be of great help in ensuring that not only do you get to express what you want to say, but also elicit the response you desire. 4.“Bullet point your accomplishments in your email and quickly, but specifically explain how they would translate to the company you’re contacting. This is easy if you’re looking to jump to a competitor but more challenging if you’re trying to make a career change. Think about how your work would apply to a potential employer. Focus on your value to them. Quantify your achievements with numbers, like saying you boosted revenues by 27% in your first year or doubled market response within two years by adopting a new testing program.” A good suggestion, this can be made even better by strategically ordering your bullet points. Since it is probable that the order will not be chronological, you can capitalize on the latitude afforded, by placing your two strongest points first and last. Studies show that first and last items in a list tend to be remembered best, two effects that have been labeled as the “primacy effect” and the “recency effect”, respectively. A third effect, called the“Von Restorff effect”  involves the clustering of attention to items positioned closest to a “hot” item in a list. For example, try or ask someone else to quickly read this list three times, look away and then write down as many of the following fictitious job codes as can be remembered:  KL5, DP3,VTJ,QS8,UBF,RT4,SEX,ZHG,YL2,CWV,IA6,NHM,FO1.
Now note not only those recalled, but also those recalled most easily (in terms of order of recall). Identify the “hottest” term and check to see whether those on the left and right of that term are among those remembered most easily, e.g., in the top four. The prediction is that, indeed, there is a hot item (“SEX”) and that its immediate neighbors, “RT4” and “ZHG”, will be recalled more quickly and accurately. Applied to your bulleted list, this approach recommends embedding the third most attentiongrabbing item somewhere in the middle, with the fourth and fifth flanking it, if your list is at least five deep. 5.“After you send the first email, wait three days. Then follow up by forwarding the original email with a short sentence saying something like, “Hi, I’m touching base about the email I sent. Would you like to set up a meeting?” One thing to consider in applying this guideline is whether to wait threebusinessdays or three calendardays. A Monday followup to a Friday email may seem more “pushy” than a Wednesday followup to a Monday email, because the latter allows the recipient more time to read and assess your initial email, assuming that company emails are less likely to be read on weekends. Hence, if you send a Friday email, it may be prudent to wait until Wednesday to follow up, if the 3day wait principle is valid. As for the 3day wait—which also seems to be widely, if not universally, recommended or followed when making first use of a prospective date's email or phone number—what makes it so “magical”? Why not 2 or 4 days? The answer may have something to do with errorless data coding. In the transmission of one bit of binarycoded information, viz., a “1” or a “0”, use of a 3bit code is the minimum length that ensures that the message intended upon sending is the same as the message received. For example, if the intended message is “1”, but is erroneously received as “0”, there is no way for the recipient to know upon receipt whether the transmission was correct. If, instead, the message is transmitted as “11” (two ones) and is received as “01” or “10”, the recipient will, indeed, recognize that there is an error, but will not be able to determine whether the intended message was “11” or “00”. However, if the message is sent as “111”, and assuming the probability of more than one mistake is virtually zero, the intended message can immediately be inferred, even when one of the digits is incorrect, viz, “110”, “101”, “011”. Translated into psychological terms, the use of three sequenced “signals” (digits) maps into a 3step sequence of stimulation, identification and confirmation—much as the superstition of “three on a match” does. In World War I, the third infantryman to light his cigarette with the one match passed around in the dark was most likely to be shot by a sniper—who, stimulated by the sight of the initial appearance of the match flame, then identified it as such, as he observed it
float to the second soldier, who, in passing it to the third, confirmed that the light is a match being passed, and fires at the “unlucky” third infantryman holding the again motionless match. In turn, this model can be applied to the 3day email wait: The day it is sent is the “stimulation” day. By the end of the second day—the “identification” day, the employer recipient has had ample time to investigate and identify the sender. Hence, waiting until the third day—the “confirmation” day— is the safe minimum (and therefore optimal) wait before confirming both the sender's identity and interest. 6. “Three days after that, phone at 8am or 6pm. Try to catch your target before their assistant arrives in the morning or after they leave at night.” This may, in various instances, be a very bad idea. In the first place, those times will be way too early or too late to call enterprises that operate on a 9to5 schedule. In the second place, calls at the very start or end of the work day can easily antagonize whoever answers the phone or whoever is called to the phone. That's a very real danger with organizations that have startoftheday staff meetings or other earliestmorning individual or group routines. Trying to “catch your target” after the assistant leaves can be even more dangerous and illadvised, if—or given that—the target is very likely to mentally, if not literally, be punching out and looking at, if not going out, the door. 7. “Leave only one voice mail. It’s a good idea to phone repeatedly but only leave one message. If you leave multiple voicemails, your target may feel stalked.” Like a repeated joke or compliment, repeat voice mails can fall flat and undo any positive impact of the first presentation—even if they do not seem like stalking. However, a followup voice mail to an assistant may be effective when there has been no response from the primary contact. the reverse may also be possible: leaving a voice mail for the main target when no reply to a voice mail left for an assistant or other intermediary has been received. 8.“Boil your verbal pitch down to 15 seconds. If you get through to a CEO or senior executive on the phone, you will need to make your point quickly, while asking for a 20minute meeting. Don’t be disappointed if they turn you down. If you make a good impression, they will likely send your contact info to someone else. Most companies are on the hunt for good people.” Although having a prepared and rehearsed 15second pitch ready to spring on your target callee can help frame, discipline and control your coldcall spiel, it may be better to replace or at least supplement that tactic with disarming reassurance that you are asking for only one minute of the target's time. (15 seconds to make your case seems unrealistic, since it barely allows time to state a request, much less provide a justification for it.) Setting the respectful, considerate very reasonable 1minute limit at the outset eliminates or reduces callee anxiety that an openended can of conversational worms will be opened, while displaying courtesy, character and professional savvy. What's more, “I'd like to ask for only a minute of your time” is widely
accepted as figurative and acceptably vague, as well as literal, but in any case communicates a minimal, reassuring request. Ironically, if not also predictably, such a 1minute eggtimer request may get you a lot more time than that, as the callee responds in a less guarded way, because of your promise to keep the talk short and your displaying professional smarts that are likely to impress. 9.“Use the words 'mutually beneficial' in your email and phone call. Make it clear you want to help the potential employer achieve their goals.” Sorry, but this sounds stilted, presumptuous and suspicious—like a Nigerian scam letter written in highflown Dickensian or colonial English. One problem with it is that it presents your onesided conclusion, rather than a promising exploration of opportunities and needs. That's the difference between a smart salesmen who asks and a pushy one who tells you what you need or want. Besides, “mutually beneficial” is utterly superfluous, since no onesided deal is likely to be both offered and accepted by intelligent negotiating parties. It's about as useful as stating that you want to discuss a “good thing”. To these suggestions, the following are worth adding: 1CRan be achieved by primarily . EATE AS WELL AS MEET (NEW NICHE) DEMAND:This c targeting organizations that are very likely to see you as a truly distinctive or otherwise very rare attractive applicant, e.g., with either conventional skills that are, for the moment, acutely in short supply, or as having unusual and rare skills that, although not currently even on their organizational radar, will create an attentiongetting blip. For example, if you have language or IT competencies that the company has through discouragement, oversight, lack of imagination or simple lack of will backburnered or been oblivious to, you may be able to spark a "eureka!" pilot light and interest to transform your job enquiry into an engaging, unexpected and attractive proposal that may help you and them create a job, rather than merely fill one. This scenario is perfectly tailored to the goals and methods of cold calling. It legitimizes the element of what might otherwise be unwelcome and annoying surprise contact, because the unexpected contact is buttressed with unexpected opportunities and prospective benefits for the employer. The cold call is not only legitimized in terms its payoffs, but also because of its necessity, given that there is no other way for you to create employer awareness of them. Above all, if you are going to use the surprise cold call as a tool, be sure that you can justify doing that by being a surprise applicant, i.e., exceptional and distinctive in some very enticing way, beyond having the chutzpah (or, when cold calling fails, the temerity) to cold call. 2.TARGET VERY “PERMEABLE” ORGANIZATIONS:Some organizations will be easier to penetrate with a cold call than others—i.e., they are more“permeable”. One correlate of such  
permeability is size—the smaller the business, the more permeable it can be expected to be. Reasons for this include the likelihood of its having a less hierarchical, formalized, compartmentalized, circumspect, filtering, rigid, specialized organizational structure and access portals. Another reason is that smaller operations tend to not only have less formal structures, but also attract more informal, casual, even quirky personality types, who are more likely to be comfortable with, if not enjoy “outlier” cold calls. Moreover, the bigger the organization, the greater the likelihood of a very sharp division of labor and task specialization, which means that anything that is offscript or offtask will be unwelcome, including having to deal with a cold call. It is also highly unlikely that anyone whose job description includes handling cold calls will have been trained to warmly and enthusiastically accommodate them—especially in busy and coveted work environments. If you harbor any doubts about this, go ahead and try cold calling Apple, Exxon, Amazon or Merrill Lynch headquarters. 3.COLD CALL STARTUPS:To the extent that startup ventures start small and flexible—a.k.a. “agile”, as well as permeable, they are likely to not only have unfilled jobs, but also undefined ones; that is, in virtue of growing “organically” or through trialanderror, they may not know what they need or even what they want, in terms of talents and staff, despite whatever thick and glossy business plan sits on everyone's desk or chair. Whoever answers the phone may be excited to have a chance to speak with someone—anyone—who shows interest in the company and especially welcome the opportunity to practice and refine his or her own promotional pitch and phone persona. Hence, your cold call may create an opportunity for you to propose, promote and network, rather than merely enquire about and discover job openings. Moreover, since startup staff are unlikely to be tied up on the phone with clients and customers, the callee is likelier to be able to spare the time to talk with you. If it's a telemarketing center that you cold call, who knows?—Maybe you will beat them to the coldcall punch.