Telephone 101 for Job Seekers


Eric Handler offers tips on how to dial for decision makers, making the most of your time on the phone.

One of the key objectives of every job search is to identify decision makers. There are many effective methods for identifying decision makers but one of the most overlooked and underrated methods is to simply pick up the phone, call the company and ask. Yes, that’s right pick up the phone and call. Don’t hide behind email, it’s too easy to ignore.

Overcoming the fear of the 500lb phone

Calling a company can be an intimidating prospect. It’s understandable – people have an aversion to cold calling simply because of the fear of rejection. However knowing a couple of tips and tricks can help you overcome your fear and turn that 500lb phone into a more effective tool in your job search. Picking up the phone and calling a company is a great way to make a first impression on your target company.

If you haven’t been able to identify the decision maker through prior research call the main number and ask to be directed to the specific department. Look at it like this–you are calling to learn who your new boss will be.  For example: if the job you are inquiring about happens to fall within the marketing department, call and ask to be sent to the marketing department. If the company is small, (less than 250 employees), then you may be able to ask the operator or administrative assistant directly.

What should I say on the phone?

If you look at each call as an opportunity to make a new friend at a company of interest, then some of the “yips” associated with these calls dissipate. Once you get the hang of these you will actually start to realize that calling ahead is a great way to make a first impression and gain an ally on the inside. Here are some tips on what to say:

  • Be honest.  Don’t feel like you need to hide the fact that you are in the job market if the topic comes up.
  • Flattery. It doesn’t hurt to butter up your future employer just a little bit. You could say something like: “I’m temporarily in the job market and am interested in learning about your company as my future potential employer.  I’ve learned through my research that your organization, department and its director have a great reputation. It would be great to learn more or to have a chance to discuss employment.”
  • Personal questions. When people are willing to talk, ask how the person on the phone enjoys working for the company. Be polite, respectful and engaging. This gives you a first-person look into what every day work life is like at the office in question.

Calling a company representative is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it can be a great help to you in your job search. Follow these tips and become more proactive in your search.  Don’t sit back and wait for the phone to ring, pick it up and make a call!

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