Contacting Employers

Once you know a bit about your target employers, you can contact them.  Know what you are going to say before you call. Use the tips and questions provided in the section covering Informational Interviewing. If you feel like you have a good connection, offer to send a cover letter and resume.

Tips for Calling Employers
Write down what you want to say.  This is important if you are not used to calling employers.  Don't read your script; your conversation should be natural.
Smile while you are talking on the phone. It makes your voice sound cheerful and relaxed.
Your outgoing voicemail message should not have music or jokes on it. Just say your name and ask the caller to leave a message.
Tell your roommates and family that employers will be calling.  Ask them to take clear messages and give them to you right away.
Call back all employers who call you, even if you no longer want the job.
Return all phone calls within 24 hours.
How to E-Mail Employers
Use a simple e-mail address with your name or initials for your job search. Don't use inappropriate nicknames or jokes like ""
Start the e-mail with something of interest to the reader. Let them know right away why you are writing and how you can help their business.
Write the e-mail the same way you would a formal letter. Don't use online acronyms such as IMHO, LOL, etc.
Have a subject line that is clear and interesting.
At the end of your message, tell the employer your plan to follow-up. Give them another way to contact you such as your phone number. If you sent the e-mail without them knowing, ask if they want you to keep in touch with them in another way.
Check for the correct spelling, grammar, word use and punctuation.
If the employer does not contact you and you really want an interview, call them.

How do I reach the right person?

Research the company, or person; try to find a contact name…..somebody who knows somebody in the company. can be a useful tool for this.

If you were told it was your job to screen your employer’s calls for importance, what would you do?  YOU WOULD SCREEN YOUR EMPLOYERS CALLS.  These annoying people that prevent you from reaching the right person are sometimes referred to as gatekeepers.  How do you get past them?

  1. Gatekeepers usually work from 9 –5. Supervisors and Directors often come in earlier and leave later.  Try making your calls from 8 – 9 A.M. or 5 – 6 P.M.
  2. You may want to ask for the name of the person in charge and then call back the next day asking for Mr. Smith, regarding some information you need. (You were told to speak directly to Mr. Smith)
  3. Sound confident.  The receptionist can sense if you are not comfortable making this call. Try this:

Caller: “ Hi, this is Joe Confidence.  I’m trying to contact the person in charge of marketing.  Who would that be?

Gatekeeper:  “ That’s Mr. Know-it-all.  He is the director.”

Caller: “I need to contact him about some marketing concerns.  Does he have a direct number or an extension #

Gatekeeper:  His direct number is……..  Would you like me to transfer you?

Use your telephone effectively

Record a short, business-like message on your answering machine. If there are two or more people using the same machine, mention each person by name so the caller will know that the message will get through to the right person.
When you use the phone, make sure there is no background noise from TV, music or people. It is a well-documented fact that your facial expressions and posture come through over the phone so it is important to sit up straight and keep smiling.

Cold Calling
Cold calling can be intimidating, however it is sometimes necessary. Use the Telephone Preparation Form (pdf) worksheet before cold calling an employer.

Do Do Not
  • Get dressed
  • Have a clear employment goal
  • Research the company:
    For example:, Canadian business directory, annual reports, trade magazines…Find out EVERYTHING about them.
  • Know the names of people you are calling
  • Find out about problems and projects
  • Prepare your script and strategy in advance
  • Sound as if you call there every day
  • Smile
  • Treat the secretary with courtesy
  • Prepare for most common obstacles
  • Ask if this is a good time to call
  • Ask a question to develop rapport
  • Convey the right attitude
  • Summarize your conversation before closing
  • Close the conversation with a request for action (ask permission to do something or ask for referrals)
  • Follow-up (thank the contacts who gave you referrals)
  • Monitor your phone voice and behaviour
  • Know how many rejections you can handle, and plan for breaks
  • Speak at the wrong speed.  Too fast, too slowly
  • Sound unsure, hesitant
  • Project a dull or weak voice
  • Be impatient with the secretary
  • Mispronounce the name
  • Take too much time to get to the point
  • Read a memorized script
  • Sound like a pushy salesperson
  • Hang-up too quickly, without asking important questions
  • Use pauses, “ummm…,” poor diction, or incorrect grammar.

Think about how you will respond if they say:

  • I am really too busy to talk to you.
  • We are not hiring right now.
  • Call me back in about one month.
  • Send me your resume and I will take a look at it.

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