Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Want Your Dream Job? Make a Cold Call!" or "Cold Calling your way to a new Job!"

(P.S: This blog was written by Ibraheem Hussein, an MBA classmate of mine, in March, 2012. I am re-posting it here, with his permission. - Gerry).

Want Your Dream Job? Make a Cold Call!

After reading an article and seeing how it related to my own experience, I felt this may benefit those of us seeking internships or full-time positions come April or September. I feel the article (see link below) did a poor job in highlighting the steps required to go from cold call to interview. Although I agree with several points, it may be wise to enhance/edit the process suggested.

Cold calling a potential employer can be as nerve racking as public speaking but if you can master this technique you will be miles ahead of the competition. The following are several reasons why cold calling is essential to getting your dream job in today's job market:

  • Not many do it! This fact alone indicates that if you have the initiative and courage to start talking to people you don't know you will automatically be distinguished from the rest.
  • It's a employer centric job market. Since candidates (and MBAs) are a dime a dozen, today's employers can hold out for the perfect candidate, which may not be me or you.
  • Cold calling is your cover letter's cover letter. If you want to make sure you get interviewed for a given position, not only should you submit your resume through the online system but you should have a champion for you in house (preferably the hiring manager that you cold called). The champion refers you to HR and gives them the nod of approval for an HR screen.
  • Networking doesn't work as well. Unfortunately, networking only works within your network! Many of us and myself included want to work at large, reputable firms but we know absolutely no one at these firms. Cold calling will enable you to establish relationships with individuals at your target firm(s).
  • It shows drive, passion, initiative, communicability, motivation, and intensity. This is what all employers wish they had from their employees. Be an individual that stands out and shows these qualities.
  • The recent online process enables cold calling to be successful. Due to the internet, good jobs receive hundreds if not thousands of applications. Applying for a job is now as easy as clicking your mouse. Why do you want to get lost in the clutter. By cold calling you maneuver past the typical HR resume screen.
  • Focus. If you succeed, you need not pursue many firms. This technique is so successful that if you fit into the company culture, you're qualified, and you're motivated, you should only have to contact one company to receive an interview.

Although I am sure there are many more reasons to cold call, time is of the essence for me and you so let's quickly get into the process.

  1. Do your research. If you call not knowing anything about the position or the company, the hiring manager will sense this and it may not be favourable for you. Also, do your research on linkedin of who you are calling and how you can connect to him/her on a personal level. If you can't identify the hiring manager on linkedin, find someone in the department in a similar role you are applying for and get the insider view of what this person does on a day to day basis and what skills are required.
  2. Make the call. Call the company and ask to be transferred to whoever it is you want to talk to. Many times you have no clue who the hiring manager is, so instead, just talk to someone in the department (that you found on linkedin) about the role, it is likely they will give you valuable information and refer you to the right person. Don't think they will reject you. If you do, then they will. If you are professional, upbeat, polite, and humble, they can't reject you because that would be extremely rude and unprofessional of them. If they do, trust me, you don't want to work there anyway. No one wants to work for an employer that doesn't appreciate initiative and courage.
  3. Tell them who you are and why your calling. You saw a posting and you are extremely interested in this position and the company. Emphasize the knowledge you gained about the company and the role here.
  4. Get the scoop! Gather as much information as you can about the role, the department, and the hiring manager. Probe the hiring manager for this information and make sure you customize your resume and cover letter accordingly.
  5. Show high intensity and interest. Make it seem as if your drive and passion is jumping out of the phone at the employer. Make him or her feel you are a high achiever, self-motivated and that you will bring a tremendous amount of value to the employer!
  6. Close your sale! You are essentially selling yourself. You need to impress and ask for the referral to HR. It may or may not be direct. For example you may say, "so from here, do you recommend I just apply online or is there a better way to ensure I get an interview?" This will almost always result in a "no problem, I will send your name over to the person responsible for reviewing applications."
  7. Customize to Win! Your cover letter and resume must reflect the qualities/skills that you received from the your champion, the job posting, and the reasons why you want to work at the firm.
  8. Interview. This is a totally different step in the process and I plan to comment on this in a later posting.
It's that simple! OK maybe a little intimidating but your an MBA student! If you can't do it, who can???? This helped me get an internship and I know if you implement this it will help you. I am so sure of this approach that I plan on using this method for the rest of my career.

If you have any further questions you can comment below or simply see me in class.

Happy cold calling!

- Mr. Ibraheem Hussein, (MBA).
Final Year MBA student (Class of 2012),
Ted Rogers School of Management,
Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Useful link: