Here are five tips that can help you have meaningful phone conversations if you are cold-calling during your job search:
1. Speak In Terms Of Results
If you’re approaching a key decision maker in a company “cold,” you must learn to speak his or her language and understand the only reason anyone is going to want to talk to you is because you can make or save them money. Thus, you have to first understand and translate how your skills equal $$ and %% if you’re calling a key decision maker. Human resources does not speak this language; they are more oriented to matching skills and tasks. Think your work can’t be quantified? Think again. For most careers positions, no one would hire us if it couldn’t.
2. Front Load Your Introduction
So, the normal cadence of the back-and-forth, “may I say who is calling please” and so on, is broken. Say: “Hi, this is Mary Elizabeth Bradford, President of Career Artisan calling for John Smith in regards to our correspondence please.” Stay in control.
3. Overcome Objections
If your key contact says you need to talk to HR, say, “I respect what you’re saying, but HR is usually not interested in talking about how I might save or make you money; rather, they are focused on how my hard and soft qualifications match your open positions. I would like to focus on how I might actually affect your bottom line. Would you be open to taking a meeting with me to explore that?”
4. Begin With A Compliment
When calling someone for the first time, the single best thing you can do to ensure a good outcome is begin with a genuine compliment about them or their company. It shows you are focused and purposeful, you are putting the focus on THEM not YOU (always a smart move), setting a positive tone, and setting the person and/or company up as “the guide/mentor/expert.” Flattering.
5. Learn How To Leave A Message
When leaving a message, be sure not to be too brief or too long winded. Try something like “Hi John, this is Mary Elizabeth Bradford. It’s 9 am on Tuesday and I’m calling, as promised, to follow up on the correspondence I sent you last week. I will be in the office all day today and my number is 408-555-1212. Thank you and I’m really looking forward to talking with you.”
I feel that referencing how great your accomplishments are or how you can help them in a voice message is premature, and that your better bet is making a good first impression with a positive, professional, and friendly voice mail. You want to sound intriguing – like someone you would enjoy talking to (and maybe even interviewing and hiring!).
Stand up and smile when you are talking on the phone – people can hear it and your energy level with naturally rise.
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