The following is an extract from “The Career Doctor” a book by our Managing Director Eoghan McDermott.
If your network doesn’t cough up any contacts within a target company, all that’s left to you is the salesman’s dreaded cold call. This is where you contact an organisation cold, find the person in charge of hiring and try and get a meeting with them. Cold calling can be made easier by breaking it into constituent elements
Stage one is making the research call. You should draw up your prospect list. Research the company to see who the key hirer is. Is it the CEO, managing director or the HR director, for example?
You then make a phone call to verify your research with the receptionist, secretary or personal assistant. You should check the person’s name (both first and second name) and confirm spelling.
Don’t ask to be put through to the key person on a research call – you mightn’t be prepared and they might be caught on the hop. If you are asked why you want the name, explain who you are and that you wish to send a letter.
Stage two is preparing the covering letter and CV. In the letter you should introduce yourself Give the reader a cogent reason for wanting a face-to-face meeting and be sure that it’s a real benefit for them, not just for you.
For example, make it clear that you understand the challenges that their company is facing and that you believe, given your experiences and skills, that you can help them to overcome those challenges. Explain that you will be making a follow-up telephone call.
By the way, a little tip with a proven record of success relates to the address on the envelope. If your handwriting is neat, handwrite it. Envelopes with handwritten addresses are more likely to be opened because they appear more personal.
Stage three is making the follow-up call. You should ask for the contact you have researched and written to – ask for them formally. Explain to their secretary or personal assistant that you are following up on a letter.
It’s your letter, but the instinctive reaction of the person answering the telephone may be that you must be responding to a letter from your contact Whatever you do, don’t lie at any stage in the process. If asked for the more detail, give the reason for wanting a meeting – as outlined in your letter. If your contact is not available or is too busy to talk at that time, promise to call back and ask for the best time. Don’t leave a voice mail.
You should keep control of the process by calling back at the time you promised you’d call. Remember to be open, friendly and positive with the person who takes the call, whatever the outcome. The secretary or receptionist holds a gatekeeper post.
Stage four is confirming a meeting. When you get on to the person you believe might have the power to hire you, explain about you and why you want the meeting. Be sure to state the benefits to them of meeting you and make it clear that it would be for only fifteen minutes. It should beyond who suggests a date and time for the meeting, for example, ‘Would 11.15 on Friday the ninth suit?’ And be sure to convey energy, enthusiasm, friendliness. It’s like a sample in a supermarket. Give them a taste of your pleasant reality.
Then when you do meet them, give them hell. Remember this meeting is an interview. Be sure to prove to them that giving you fifteen minutes was the right thing to do.