Cold calling is for champions. It used to be that cold calling was for the losers so low on the corporate ladder they were falling off the last rung. But today it's clear that cold calling is an art form, and people who are good at it can do a lot for themselves — most notably get a job.

Skeptical? Well, I'm not sure you have much of a choice. Fewer than half of all available jobs are advertised and most people don't get jobs through listings. So how are you going to find them? Your best odds are networking. But most people exhaust their network in a month, and most job hunts last at least four months. So after networking, the best thing to do is probably cold calling.

Everyone knows that it's really hard to make a cold call, so people will respect you for trying. But you'll get self-respect, too. Because if you only respond to ads, then you are basically running a passive job hunt, waiting for something to pop up on your computer screen. If you approach companies you're interested in, whether or not they post jobs, then you are taking control of your hunt, and actively trying to attain your goals.

Think of all the times in life you regret. Usually it was when you didn't take a more active role in your life. When you didn't take control of your life. In this sense, you can't lose making a cold call. No one ever says to themselves, “I wish I hadn't been so aggressive in trying to get what I wanted.” If you are aggressive, and you don't get what you want, you probably weren't going to get it anyway. So might as well go down swinging.

The easiest and most obvious cold call is not really even cold. It's a follow-up call. This is what you do when you've been sending tons of resumes out and you are receiving no interviews: After you send your resume, call the hiring manager to say you really want the job.

You will probably have to dig a lot to find the hiring manager. But hey, you have all day to dig, right? You'll have to call human resources. Maybe some random dialing within the department. Maybe some Googling. But you can find someone who sounds like they might be the hiring person and ask who the hiring person is. Sooner or later someone will tell you.

Once you get that person, pitch yourself on the phone. That pitch has to be good. Friendly, informative, fast. This is the crux of the art form. Then, ask if you can come in for an interview. Even though the advertisement says no calls, a call is a great way to get someone to pay attention to you when there's a huge pile of resumes.

You can use this same tactic even if there is no job offered and you have not sent a resume. Just call someone in a department that interests you. Business development in an advertising agency. Marketing at a Fortune 500 company. Tell the person you're interested in that industry, and you really admire the company and you'd like to schedule an informational interview. If you ask for a job the person can say no, outright. But information? That's not so easy a no. Of course, the person has information. And you'd be surprised how many people are willing to give it if you just ask.

Then you need to be charming. And smart. If the person loves you, she might make a spot for you in her department. Or maybe she has a friend who is hiring. Who knows? You never will until you try.

It's all about odds. You need to have the ego strength to dial these people all day. You only need one person to say yes. That yes means you expanded your network that day. And all those people who say no, you'll never see them again. They are gone. No need to feel bad or embarrassed. It's over. Move on.

Of course, the odds are not great that the cold call will work every time, but you only need it to work really well once and then you're done. You have a job.

Unemployment is traumatic, and people who have been there never shake the fear of going back. If you've spent five months job-hunting (an average amount of time) you have probably faced worry, uncertainty and financial desperation.

Here are some things you can do while you are employed so that next time you're looking for work, the task is much, much easier:

Save money
The worst job hunt experiences are when you have to take the first job you get because you are risking financial ruin. If you save money when you are employed you'll be able to be a lot more picky when you're looking for a new job. Almost everyone is desperate when they are unemployed, and one of the hardest things to do in an interview is act self-confident when you're feeling down. This task if even harder if you're going to be out on the street in three weeks.

Also, unemployment gives you lots of time but little money to spend. If you have some savings you'll be able to enjoy the time you have when you're not working. After all, you can't job hunt all day every day — it would make you crazy.

This isn't something you do when you need a job. It's something you do when you have one, when you're feeling confident. If you are good at making connections with people, and you do it regularly, then people will be there to help you when you need a job. If you contact people only when you need help you are not a networker, you are a sponge.

You don't need to be friends with everyone, but you need to have some real friends. Note that friends are not people you go out drinking with occasionally. Friends are people you are very honest and forthcoming with, and people who depend on you. When it comes time to get help, it's not the people you're friends with who will help — they have the same information that you do. It's the friends of friends who will help. And they don't come by way of superficial connections.

Focus on achievements
Your resume is what gets you an interview. Even if you are using connections from your network, sooner or later, someone will say, “Send me your resume and I'll take a look.” Your resume should have a few, huge achievements that the rest of the lines are built around. When you are gainfully employed, look for opportunities to create these achievements.

This means being selective in what projects you take on. Projects that are going to do very little for your resume should not take up a lot of your time — do them as quickly as possible and move on. Projects that will give you the chance to highlight grand and quantifiable results on your resume are projects you should be willing to volunteer for. These projects are worth working late nights, taking on huge risk, and working with people you hate.

On a well-crafted resume, one line of greatness can cut months off your unemployment suffering.

Be creative
The jobs that are staying in the US feature some form of creativity — from troubleshooting, to management to strategy. Hone your skills as a creative thinker so that you can sell yourself that way next time you need to find a job.

So many people who are in non-creative jobs tell me that they are creative and their job is safe from off-shoring. They are delusional. Here's a test to give yourself:
Do you come up with new product ideas or features?
Does set up intra-departmental process?
Do you work face-to-face with other people all day?

If you answered no to all three questions think hard about how to make your job more creative and people-oriented so that you can find a new job without moving to India.

The good news is that each of these recommendations will improve your career. Your work will be more interesting and you will bring more joy to your job and the people you meet. The added benefit is that you will have it easier next time you are unemployed, which means a little less worrying now.