The Seemingly Impossible Jobs – Cold Calling for Jobs

The Seemingly Impossible Job Search – Cold Calling for Jobs

There are three variations of “cold calls job opportunities that you may believe are too hard to get:

  1. You see a job advertised but don’t know anybody at that company.
  2. You see a job advertised and you know someone at that company (not the hiring manager).
  3. You know someone who works at a target company you want to work for, but you don’t know if there are any positions available.

Don’t give up or talk yourself out of getting these jobs. In either of the above scenarios, add these as prospects in your job search pipeline. Example: write “GE in Boston” as a line item. Or “marketing manager at ABC Company advertised on” as a line item. Don’t ignore them simply because they appear to be long shots .

Here are some tricks to help you approach the jobs that require cold calling.

1. If you know anybody at that company, DO contact them via phone/voicemail then an immediate e-mail and ask them if you can use them as either a (1) referral – that they simply referred you to someone, or a (2) reference – where they will be a spokesperson and can represent your skills and fit for the position or company. There is a distinction.

Scenario and Sample: You know someone within the company you are applying to and you want to put their name as a reference or referral in the first line of your cover letter. “ John, you and I worked together 4 years ago at Company XYZ. I’m sorry we have not been in touch since then. I need your help, John. I am now applying for an <x> position at <company> and would like to put your name in the cover letter as a <reference or referral>. If you are contacted, I would like you to highlight my skills around <skill 1, skill 2 and skill 3>. I am passionate about the position and believe I am a very strong fit to what the hiring manager is looking for.”

DON’T use someone’s name without contacting them as it can backfire. This happened to me on a job search. The person, who I assumed would be a referral, declined. He only worked with me in one type of job and he didn’t believe he could talk about my skills needed for a entirely different position 4 years later. I didn’t get the final interview.

2. If you don’t know anybody at your target company, DO try to get a name of someone who can forward your application to the hiring manager. It is always better to send your e-mail to someone directly and put their name in the “to” line. If you have a network contact (LinkedIn) within the company, try to call or e-mail them first with a short request that they forward your credentials to someone else in their company. Go online and do hours of research into the companies that you are targeting. Try to find a contact name instead of just sending your resume to Human Resources. If you must, call the company and ask for a contact person in H/R or Recruiting who is handling your particular job opening.

DO use the web to find a good contact name and try to get their e-mail. Spend hours on that company’s web site, reading the organization section, speeches, announcements, press releases. Then, naturally, spend hours on the rest of the web. Call the receptionist to confirm that person is still in that role or at that company.

DO also apply to the position you want via that company’s instructions (career site, online submittal tool). When I’m contacted to help somebody get into my company, the first questions I ask are: A. Have you done research and found job opportunities on my company’s website? B. Have you applied to the position(s) you are seeking?

Scenario and Sample: Sending an application package (Cover letter and resume) to a marketing manager for your request to interview for an engineering position. “Dear Mr. Marketing <real name here>, you and I met at <situation here> and I am writing to ask for your help. I am passionate about applying to the posted position # _________ as Lead Programmer, and I would like to ask you to forward this e-mail directly to the Engineering hiring manager”.

DON’T send a letter to “Dear Human Resources” if at all possible. I realize that is where some websites send you. Odds are low it will be looked at. They are good people; they simply are not the buyer.

DON’T expect a response to every job you apply to. I hear too many people whine that “Company XYZ didn’t even get back to me”. They don’t have to and they can’t. It’s not college where you can expect an acceptance or rejection letter.

DON’T send a “lazy” letter, even if you know the recipient very well. Here is an example of a communication that will reach the deleted box instantly:

From: John Smith

To: Sally Jones

Subject: Marketing Manager

Dear Sally,

Hope you are doing well.

I noticed the vacant role of Marketing Manager in the Consumer division who will help to drive the Partner Marketing and I am interested in pursuing it. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


<first name only> <no phone or e-mail> <no attachment>

DON’T use social networking website e-mail capabilities to pursue a position, refer someone else for the position, etc. I am an avid LinkedIn user, but I don’t want a job search candidate to send me a short cover letter through LinkedIn. Best is to describe your job search goal (short version) and why you are contacting that person. The request should be “may I have your e-mail address to send you more information?”

Remember, every communication, even to a network contact, will make an impression. You are always interviewing and need to use the best form, best grammar and maximum clarity in a concise way. In such a competitive job market, there is no room for error. However, you can shine way above the others if you apply the coaching provided on or


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