Cold calling - tips for success


Phoning a potential employer out of the blue to ask about job vacancies isn't easy, but cold calling could help you crack the lucrative hidden job market.

Job ads sometimes get hundreds of people applying, but a cold call at the right time can find you a job before it's even advertised.

Use these handy tips to improve your cold calling skills:

> Before the call
> During the call
> After the call

Before the Call

Cold calling isn't just picking up the phone and dialling. It helps to prepare before you make the actual call. Here's some things to consider.

Do Your Research

A little bit of preparation will make cold calling easier.

If you know the name of the person you want to talk to, ask for them by name when you make the call.

If you don't have a name, you could try asking to talk to the human resources manager or the work experience co-ordinator. Or you could simply ask to talk to someone about jobs available at the company.

If you're calling about a specific job (or kind of job), do a bit of research on the company and what the job involves. When you call you can show how much you know and prove you're right for the job.

Always be polite to the person answering the phone. They can be a goldmine of information about their company.

Write a Script 

Save yourself getting tongue-tied or forgetting what to say with a practice phone script. This will also help you to speak clearly.

If you're talking to a receptionist, try something like:

"Good morning. My name is _________. Can you please tell me the name of your HR manager? Would I be able to speak to them? Thank you."

If you're talking to the HR Manager, try:

"Good morning (use their name if you know it). My name is _________. I'm calling to ask about any opportunities for work at your company. 

I've just completed my degree in ________, and I have a lot of experience in _______ and ________, which is an area I know your company specialises in. I've also worked in _______.

Are there any suitable openings at your company at present?  Can I send you my CV in case any jobs come up in future?"

Your script should highlight your skills and experience and why you stand out from the crowd. Don't use the same script every time - change it to suit each company you call.

You might be transferred to different people in the same organisation - remember to introduce yourself each time and explain the reason for your call.

For more examples of cold calling scripts check out our Cold Calling Interactive Guide.

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During the Call

So you've managed to get someone on the other end of the line - nice one! Here's how to make the call count.

Stay Focused

Find somewhere quiet to make your call, away from interruptions or distractions. Once you're on the phone, don't put the person on hold to answer another call. Let your family and friends know you don't want to be disturbed.

You've worked hard to get to speak to them - don't waste this chance.

Dress to Impress

You could sit on the couch in your PJs to make your call, but if you're dressed and sitting at a table or desk, it'll help you get into the right frame of mind. Your voice sounds different when you sit up straight, or even stand. You'll sound more confident and professional.

Mind Your Manners

Politeness is the easiest way to make a good impression on the phone: 

  • Speak clearly - Try not to mumble or 'um' and 'er' too much. Speak as clearly as you can and smile - this will add warmth to your voice. 
  • Excuse yourself - Put the phone aside to cough or sneeze - don't sniff or splutter into the phone. 
  • Use names - Show respect for the person you're speaking to by finding out their name and using it. This can make your conversation feel more personable and comfortable. 
  • Say thank you - Before hanging up, thank the person for their time, no matter what the end result is.

Take Notes

Taking notes during your call will save time when you next speak to the same people. You won't have to go over things already discussed and you'll impress them with your organisation.

Before you hang up, summarise any action that needs to be taken (e.g. confirm that you will send in your CV if that is what you've discussed).

Be Persistent

If you didn't get what you wanted, ask for the contact details of someone else who may be able to help.

If the person you want to speak to isn't there, leave a message or ask about the best time to call back.

If the organisation won't give out direct numbers, get an email address or ask if you can leave your number for them to call you.

Check out our Cold Calling - Tips from the Experts video and Cold Calling Interactive Guide for more tips on making cold calling work for you.

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After the Call

Once you've made the call, you're almost done. Now it's time to make sure that your hard work isn't wasted.

Keep Your Promises

Prove that you're professional and worth employing by doing everything that you said you would, and doing it quickly. If you said you'd email your resume or contact details, do it as soon as you get off the phone! If you said you'd call back in a day, then don't call back a day later than you agreed.

Follow Up

If someone said they'd call you back but you don't hear from them after a week or so, don't be afraid to give them another call. Chances are they've been busy and forgot to get back to you. They'll probably be impressed by your enthusiasm.

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Give it a Go

Cold calling will never be easy, but with confidence, politeness and persistence it can make things happen for you. For more tips on Cold Calling, check out the rest of our How to Find a Job section.

Good luck!