Contacts: How Part 4

When you don’t know the decision maker’s name:

Janet Jamahl wants to be a receptionist. She knows about ABC Manufacturing, but does not know the decision maker’s name.

Them: Hello, ABC Manufacturing. How may I direct your call?

Janet: This is Janet Jamahl and I would like to speak with your office manager.

Them: That’s Beverly Manson. Hold on, I’ll connect you.

Beverly: Hello, how may I help you?

Janet: My name is Janet Jamahl. I have a year’s experience as a receptionist. I can handle a multi-line phone system, type 45 words per minute and am very strong in customer service. I’d like to meet briefly with you to discuss how these skills might be valuable to your business. (This is Janet’s skills statement.)

It’s not always easy

Unfortunately, many times it is not so easy to get through to the decision maker. The person answering the phone may try to screen your call. In Janet’s call, the screener could have said, “May I tell her what this is about?” Janet should not say, “I’m looking for a job.” Instead she could say:

“I’m calling to make an appointment with her.” OR

My name is Janet Jamahl. I am an experienced receptionist and clerical worker. I am also good at dealing with the public and want to see how these skills might be useful to your company.” OR

“It’s a personal matter.”

When you can’t get through to a decision maker

If this happens, at least find out the decision maker’s name. Say something like:

  1. “May I leave my name and number and have them call me back?” After giving the screener your information, ask: “What is his or her name so I’ll know whom to expect a call from?”
  2. “Perhaps I’ll send a brief letter. To whom should I address it?”
  3. “What is the name of the person who handles the hiring?”

Once you have the name, write it down on your contact sheets and diary yourself to call back in two or three days. When you call back, ask for the decision maker by name. This greatly improves your chances of getting to the right person– the person who can set up a face-to-face interview with you.

If a screener tells you there are no positions open.

Never believe this unless you hear it directly from the decision maker. Screeners are paid to screen not hire. They do not know what is going in a decision maker’s head. For instance:

  •         An employer may create a new position for an applicant with the skills and experiences that fill a need for a company.
  •         The decision maker is unhappy with an employee and would like to replace him but has not told anyone.
  •         An employee recently told the boss that she is leaving but no one else knows.
  •         The employer has been toying with the idea of creating a position to improve production.
  •         The decision maker you spoke to has no need for a new employee but has just had lunch with an employer who does.

It is easy to understand that a screener would not know about these possibilities. These kinds of situations make up what is called the “hidden job market”. Eight of every ten positions are filled due to scenarios like these. This is why you must get past the screener and to the decision maker. Do whatever you must to accomplish this.

Contacts: How Part 1

How to State Your Skills

Josh has just begun his job search. He’s excited about landing a job, using his new skills, and finally getting back to work. He’s listed ten employers to contact, refilled his coffee cup, and sat down at the phone. He dials the first number and reaches the decision maker. He is both stunned and excited with this stroke of good luck. He blurts out, “Hi, my name is Josh Linton and I was wondering if you have any job openings.” There’s a brief pause and the employer says, “No, we’re all full right now, but call back some other time.” Within less than a minute Josh’s first call is over.

During the next hour Josh makes nine more calls and speaks to five decision makers. His approach is the same. So are the responses. By the end of his first job search session, Josh is discouraged. As he sips cold coffee and rubs his forehead he mutters, “This is going to be harder than I thought. Nobody is hiring.”

Too often this is how job search goes. But it doesn’t have to. You can get the responses you want from employers. Short phone calls can lead to job interviews. But first you have to see the hiring process through an employer’s eyes.

With an employer’s eyes

When Josh called employers, they were not sitting around waiting for his call. They may have been serving a customer, repairing a machine, writing a report, fighting a headache, meeting with an employee or all of the above. When Josh’s call arrived, their mind was still focused on the task at hand. They may have wondered whether they should even take a call from a total stranger. It may be a time-wasting interruption. But then again, maybe it is a new customer with a large order. So they took the call, and then heard Josh asking if they had job openings. Getting out of the call was a no-brainer. Just a quick “NO” and they were back to more pressing problems. And Josh was no closer to an interview.

Thirty important seconds

Once you see this process from an employer’s eyes, you know what must be done. Within the first thirty seconds you must grab their attention and give them a reason to spend valuable time on you. A skills statement does both.

Your skills statement moves an employer away from problems at hand and encourages him or her to talk to you. He may be moved to ask questions about your skills, to ask how you can help them, or to set up an interview. In any case, you are no longer a total stranger. You are a person with value and skills. A person worth talking further to.