Now that you have obtained a list of employers who might relate to your area of interest, it’s time to start contacting them. Whether you choose the telephone, e-mail or a letter, it is always important to be clear and concise. Describe yourself quickly and accurately. If someone referred you, mention them as well (make sure you have their permission). Always maintain a positive attitude! An employer can hire at any time. Demonstrate to that potential employer that you have the characteristics to benefit the company and that hiring you will be a good investment in the company's future success.
Before you dial that phone...
- Prepare a three minute "commercial" about yourself to present to an employer to entice them into talking to you. Research the company so you have a clear idea of the information you are looking for.
- Be aware that the people you call are not obliged to help you in any way. Thank them for any assistance they give you.
- If a secretary intercepts, and you don't wish to speak to them, you may hang up, although they may be doing the screening for their boss. Talk to this person as you would the boss.
When you are speaking to a potential employer...
- Remember to use Mr., Mrs. or Ms. followed by their last name. People like to hear their name.
- Ask if they are free to talk right now.
- Tell them you are doing a network campaign as part of your career decision research, and that you know that talking with people in a variety of fields is a useful way to find out what the jobs are actually like.
- Say that you are looking for names of people who might know of professions in _____________ industry doing ___________kind of work.
- Politely explain that you'd like to arrange a time to meet at their office / or tell them you'd like to call back to get a name of someone who:
- works for a particular industry
- has worked for a company in a field you're looking into
- represents a company in the industry
- competed with one of these companies
- works for a company not on the list but in a related field
- has a contact at one of your target companies
- Ask when they would be free to discuss your research further.
- Call back or visit at the appointed time.
- Take the names you are given with contact info and company names and tell them you would like to be in contact again if appropriate.
- When you are given a contact name, send them a note saying that you appreciate them giving you a contact name and that when you called, that person was helpful. If they could not think of anyone to refer you to, your note will say that you appreciate them talking to you and that you will contact them again in case they think of someone.
So now you've got your foot in the door...
Continue to sell yourself and your skills. Nobody knows you better than yourself so use that to your advantage. You know what you have to offer, so let people know. Don't exaggerate, it may catch up with you later. Be positive, be original but most of all BE YOURSELF because that's what has got you this far.
In discussing ways to learn more about occupational fields as potential career options, we discussed the value of conducting informational interviews. They are equally valuable as a means of gathering information you will need in your job search, once you have decided on a career objective.
All of the same principles apply here - ask for permission to meet, be prepared with a list of questions you want to ask, dress professionally, be courteous and stick to the amount of time you requested, and always send a thank you note afterwards. Here are two additional things to keep in mind as well:
- Never turn the information interview into a backdoor attempt to ask for a job (it’s fine if the employer takes the initiative and asks if you are interested)
- Always ask for referrals for other people you can also approach for information or for a job. (This is a great networking tool.)
The main difference in the interviews you are conducting at this stage is the nature of the questions you are going to ask and the type of information you are seeking. You may also be targeting different people in the organization. Rather than talking to the person who does the work you are hoping to do, now you are interested in meeting the person who would be your supervisor, or the Human Resources Manager, or possibly the owner in a small to mid-sized company.
Advertised vs Unadvertised Job Market
Advertised Job Market
Advertised jobs are work opportunities that have been posted publicly. These may include online job boards, postings on websites, positions advertised through social media, newspapers ads, or bulletin boards. While advertised jobs are easier to find, they tend to be more competitive and only make up small percentage of the total number of opportunities.
When reviewing advertised jobs, keep the following things in mind:
- Respond promptly to ads
- Keep track of all jobs you apply for including the contact information
- Be confident in your qualifications. Job ads list the ideal candidate. If you can make a case about your skills, apply.
- Analyse the ad. Does it sound too good to be true? Don’t be afraid to ask questions before applying.
Tailor your résumé and cover letter to the job. Focus on your specific skills as they relate to the job ad.
Unadvertised Job Market
You guessed it…an unadvertised job is any opportunity that is not posted publicly. This is where you’ll discover the majority of jobs. To locate unadvertised jobs, you will need to consider making "cold" calls to employers and also networking.
Networking is creating a system of contacts for both information and support.
- Tell everyone! Let people know what kind of job you are looking for - contact friends, former colleagues, and relatives.
- Networking can be by email, social media, phone or in person.
- Try contacting people in the field. Consider informational interviewing. It allows you to ask questions and maybe even get a foot in the door.
Rather than looking for a job, look for information that will help lead you to a job. Try directories, phone books, internet, social media, associations, alumni, Linked In and other people.
Check out the Find a Job and Summer Work Search Tip Sheets
- Your most valued contacts will be people you like and enjoy being with - those who have interests in common with you.
- Useful contacts are at the top of the pyramid, i.e., general managers, regional managers, division directors, vice-presidents, CEO (chief executive officer), CFO (chief financial officer) etc. They have information, they can delegate an information interview to an appropriate person and they are conscious of being the public relations voice for the company.
- The best time to reach executives is before 8:00 am and after 5:30 pm.
- When choosing between two networking organizations, go for those that are most positive and uplifting in their membership and presentations.
- Examine your network by noting who you call regularly and who you lunch with. Intentionally expand your contacts with a system.
- Know your goals in networking. Who are you trying to meet? What are you hoping to discover?
- When meeting a contact, bring conversation topics and news to talk about. Prepare to contribute.
- Everyone wants to look good to their friends and business associates. When you call or meet with a person whose name was given to you, treat that person with respect whether or not they are helpful. You could lose two contacts otherwise.
- Your primary goal should be meeting someone rather than getting something from your contact. Even if the person you talk to does not have information available right now, leaving a positive impression may cause them to keep you in mind when they hear about openings in other organizations. They may even make a few calls on your behalf.
- Devise a system for maintaining regular contact with people, even if you only have limited time. As busy as we all are, that extra effort to maintain contact could produce some rewards.
- Give back to the network by remembering to pass on information that would interest someone you've met.
- Expect it to take 30 to 100 days to build a results- producing network from the beginning.
- Your attitude is the most important asset you will need, second is your personality.
Check out the Networking Tip Sheet