The basic advice on the following pages will help you maximize the power of the telephone and reach the greatest results from your job search.
Great Phone Interviews Is Easier Than You Think
Effective use of the phone is easier than you think. Of course, some people are totally confident in their ability to use the phone. However, 90 percent of all job seekers are reluctant to pick up the phone and make a "cold call."
If you're not experienced in using the phone, believe it or not, it's a mostly friendly and helpful world out there. Most executives are courteous and polite and go out of their way to project a good image of themselves and their company. The same holds true for others such as secretaries or administrative assistants.
Still, there is a certain misconception that all assistants will keep you from speaking with their bosses. They do screen calls, but it is part of their job to make sure that contact is made when appropriate.
The difference between simply making phone calls and "teleconnecting" is very basic. When you plan to seriously connect, you have specific goals and you use a standardized procedure for making a large number of calls.
Approaches for Beginning Your Conversations
The good news approach: "Mr. Ellis, when I heard about your four quarters of growth ..."
Here, you build a positive relationship based on specific "good news." Everyone likes to have good things happen and to hear from others who are enthusiastic about their good fortune. You can be sure that your message will immediately help to build a feeling of friendliness and warmth over the phone. This kind of approach can play an important role in winning extra interviews and getting people to help you.
The third-party approach: If you mention the name of a third party who knows the person you're calling, it helps to establish rapport, but it's also helpful even when they don't know each other. The approach is simple.
It might go like this: "Bill Regan, a partner with McKinsey, thought I should get in touch with you. He felt your growth not only suggests a good investment, but might also indicate a good employment possibility. His insights prompted me to follow up with you personally. Do you have a moment?"
The specific reason approach: Anyone who has experience in getting things done can consider using this "specific reason" approach.
It's straightforward and can go like this: "Mr. Franklin, I have a `specific reason' for calling you. I know your line of business and something of the processes you use. During the past 15 months, I have been able to save a company like yours approximately 0,000. 1 would like to share the details with you. Does your calendar permit a meeting this week?"
The "perhaps-you-can-help-me" approach: This can be used in any situation. "Hi, Mr. Ellis, I'm Tom Cole. Perhaps you can help me. After reading the recent Fortune article, I wondered if you could refer me to ..."
If an opening has already been filled, someone can help you meet an executive elsewhere in the firm. If the individual you contact does not have a precise fit in his department, perhaps he could help you meet a person in another division. If you are told that the person you want to speak to is out, the best response is, "Thanks. Perhaps you can help me. When is a good time to call?"
Tips for Handling People Who Screen Your Call
As previously mentioned, start by using the name of the person who is the "screener." Once he or she has been identified, their manner will become more personal.
When asked your name, identify yourself with an organization if possible. Remember, the more difficult and expert the screener is, the more valuable that person is likely to be, especially as an ally in your future relationships with the firm.
If you don't get through on your first attempt, and you can't get a suitable time to call back, suggest a time when you will call the screener back. Until you have established direct contact, don't leave messages.
When you call back, use the screener's name with the receptionist. After establishing that the person is difficult to reach, try this procedure: "Since he (or she) is so hard to reach, would you do me a small favor? May I call back at one o'clock to see if he would be interested in speaking with me for a few minutes?" If you must leave a message, leave one of potential benefit to the person you are calling.
Consider reversing your attempt to speak with the decision-maker. Instead, ask for an internal referral to another line manager in the area in which you might want to work.
If the screener refers you to HR, get the name of the person to whom you will be speaking. Call back later for that person or request an immediate transfer.
After a few minutes of discussion, ask two or three penetrating questions about the firm's needs. When asked difficult questions, those who don't know the answer are more inclined to refer you to someone.
After a few days, call back the screener and explain that while the HR people were helpful, they couldn't answer the questions you had in mind.
You may encounter the question: "Are you looking for a job?" The answer might be: "Yes I am; do you think you could help me? Though I'm employed, a friend suggested your firm to me."
Or, you may encounter the comment, "We don't have any openings." The response: "I appreciate a person who is direct; however, I have such a strong interest in the firm, I really believe that with your recent growth, I could be a great asset. May I tell you why?"
Some Openers After You Reach the Right Person
Considering what is happening to the technology of our business I know I can be very useful to you because of my training and experience in ___.
From your annual report, I read that the company's expanding in the sales area. That's an area where I could help, and I wanted to schedule an appointment.
My friend ____ suggested that I make a point of contacting you. You may recall from my letter that I have experience in ____ that might be of help to you.
With my background in ____ and the recent news about ____, I thought I should try to get in touch with you. Could you suggest a convenient time? Do you have 20 minutes before you get started some morning next week?
Mr. ____, your company has a tremendous reputation for marketleading products. I'd like very much to visit with you to explain how I could contribute to that reputation through my work in __. Do you have a half hour free this Tuesday?
How Some of Our Clients View Using the Phone
"My recommendation to your future clients is to make extensive use of the phone as a follow-up to all actions. I followed up on direct mail to key employers, on attractive openings I found on your website, and on most responses to growth firms and spot opportunities. I was never short of activity, but most of my interviews resulted from my phone initiatives."
"We were based in Kansas City and wanted to return to California. Your staff drafted an aggressive marketing plan which targeted Orange County and San Diego. At first, results were disappointing, but when I started initiating contact via phone to my best possibilities, and then sending your materials, the results were night and day."
"I live in Northern New Jersey, where we have many top employers within a close distance. My experience with the phone is that it is a mental thing for most executives. Making cold calls basically went against my grain. But, once you experience some success, it is just like anything else. It took me a while, but combining a lot of phone work with the information from your website, along with the resumes you did, is how to open the right doors."