Let’s face it, getting good at finding a job takes WORK. It’s not a natural talent. Rather, it is a conscious choice and a skill that can be developed. In your quest for a job offer, one of the skills you’ll need to hone is your ability to communicate effectively over the phone. There are a few things to think about before you pick up the phone to call to a potential employer (or a person who can connect you with a potential employer). Keep in mind, today’s employers are inundated with calls from people who would like to get an audience with them, so if you want your call to land you an interview, there are a few things to consider.
Be Planned – Be Brief
First, be planned for the call. Know what you’re going to say before you make the call. Does this seem obvious? My experience tells me otherwise. In my experience as a recruiter, I received countless phone calls from people who wasted more of my time than I care to remember. I realize that their intent was not to waste my precious time, but the impact of their unplanned, unfocused and in my mind unnecessary calls was just that…a waste of time.
Let me give you an example. Just a few days ago, I received a call from someone I had interviewed many months ago. She had just found out that she would soon lose her job. She went in to great detail about the injustices that she experienced in the 12 months she had worked for her company. I listened for about 3 minutes, and then I interrupted her to ask just how she would like me to help her. Her response was, “I don’t know.” Now had she planned her call, she could have quickly brought me up to date on her current employment situation, and had she done research about me and what I’ve been up to, she’d quickly know how I could help her.
When you are making the call, what’s your goal? Is it to gather information? Maybe you are doing some fact finding on the industry or the company. Or is it to get an interview? If that’s the case, are you sure you are asking for the right person? What’s the goal? Help the person on the other end of the line understand how they can help you reach your goal. And get to the point – be brief!
Make a Proper Introduction
Can you believe that I get calls from people who don’t tell me their name at the beginning of their call? In fact, I have received voicemails from callers who have not left their name. When you call a potential employer or a referral source, be sure to tell them who you are. And use your full name (first and last) too. Next, explain (briefly) what caused you to call. Were you referred by someone? Are you interested in getting some information about the company? Are you inquiring about an opening? Try to make it clear why you are calling. Then, ask the person you are talking to if it’s a good time for them to talk. And if they say “no,” respect that, and ask if you can schedule another time to call back. Making a proper introduction and engaging the person you are talking to will go a long way in helping you land an interview.
Use the Right Tone
Remember, you’re on stage. It’s a soundstage though, so the employer can only judge you on what they hear. And since we are multi-sensory beings, when we are forced to rely on only one sense (like hearing) our tendency is to really tune in. Make sure that what your potential new employer tunes into is something they will have an interest in pursuing. Are you coming across enthusiastically? Is your approach positive? Lead with an interest…think of what’s possible. Think of your vision or goal.
You might think all of this sounds “staged” or “rehearsed”…….well, IT IS!! You’ve only got one chance to make the right impression, and you don’t know who the person on the other end of the phone might be or who they might know who can hook you up with the ideal next position.
With just a little planning, the right introduction and a positive tone, you could be having your very first telephone conversation with your next boss.