By Susan Biagi
It used to be that people’s greatest fear was public speaking. It’s even been said their fear of public speaking was greater than their fear of death!
But the times, they are a’changing. According to a new survey published by Sandler Training Inc., people are now more afraid of cold-calling than they are of public speaking. In fact, people would rather give up sex for a month than call a stranger to sell a product, or ask for a job. Only a root canal was considered more painful.
At Career Link, we have observed that of all the job-search strategies, cold-calling is the least preferred by jobseekers. And yet, it remains one of the most effective. One-on-one contact with an employer—either by phoning a place of business or dropping by to hand-deliver a resume—is still one of the best ways to get a job. (Cold-calling is also one of the very few ways to access the hidden job market, in which unposted positions are said to comprise between 80 and 85% of all job vacancies.)
Instead, people prefer strategies that are relatively anonymous: faxing off resumes, for example, or applying online. While it is true that some employers ask that people apply only by fax or email, there are many who prefer to meet the candidate in person. Jobseekers who muster their courage to do so may be pleasantly surprised at their reception.
Fear of rejection probably lies behind the fear of cold-calling. Rejection seems somehow easier to take when it comes in the form of a letter or email. Being told, in person, that one does not qualify for a position is a bigger blow.
Some jobseekers will even encounter a very busy employer who rudely berates them for interrupting. To cut down on this possibility, jobseekers should do a little research into that workplace, to make sure they don’t call or arrive at a busy time. At Career Link, our advice to jobseekers is not to be deterred from cold calling by a rude employer or two: as the most effective job-search strategy, it is still worth the risk.
Perhaps the very term “cold calling” puts people off. For this reason, some job-search experts prefer to think of it as “warm calling.” They suggest that jobseekers adopt a “warm and helpful attitude” when speaking to employers for the first time.
The attitude with which jobseekers approach a call will go far towards ensuring their comfort with the process. First of all, jobseekers must be prepared to hear the word “no.” Employers may simply not have an unfilled position to offer. The chances are actually quite remote that a jobseeker will happen upon a place of business at the exact moment the employer is looking to hire. When dropping off a resume, jobseekers should keep in mind that their goal is to inform the employer of their availability, when a position does become available.
Although it may not ever be necessary, jobseekers should also have a back-up plan in the event an employer speaks rudely. A simple apology for interrupting at a busy time goes far toward easing the tension. It shouldn’t end there, however! The jobseeker can follow up with “What would be a better time to contact you? Or, perhaps you would prefer if I emailed my resume.” Maintaining a warm and helpful tone will also help ease the situation.
As a final note, jobseekers should remember that a single contact is rarely enough to remain “top of mind” with a potential employer. Follow-up is a necessary second step. An easy way to do this is to call the employer after a week or so, with the following question: “Good morning, Mr. Boss. My name is Jilly Jobseeker and I dropped off my resume last week. I was wondering if you had any questions about my skills and experience.”
Jobseekers who require help facing their fear of “warm calling” are invited to book online some one-on-one time with a Career Link employment consultant, or attend a workshop. You can call us at 604.485.7958. It’s easy and it’s free!