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.