Most people find it difficult to make follow-up phone calls after having written someone. However, you
cannot get a job unless you actually meet with people -- usually lots of people. And it's difficult to get those
meetings without using the telephone.
The Set-Up: Usually by Letter
A letter followed by a phone call is effective because most executives do not like to be surprised by what you
might say if you simply picked up the phone and called them. A letter apprises them of what you want and
works in tandem with your follow-up call.
• Networking letters means that you are using the name of someone else to help you get the meeting:
"John Doe suggested I contact you because he thought you could give me the advice I need."
• Targeting mailing is exactly like networking except that you are not using someone else's name. Instead,
you create a tie-in to that person: "I have been following your company for some time and noticed that your
international sales have been dropping. I'd like to talk to you about that."
• Whether you are writing a letter using someone else's name or establishing your own connection with
that person, the last paragraph of your letter says: "I will call you in a few days."
Before you make that call -- even before you write that letter -- be sure you know the purpose of your call
and what you want to get out of it. If you have unclear goals, you are less likely to accomplish something
• Primary goals -- an in-office meeting with the person unless the person is in a distant city, a phone
meeting if that is the only reasonable option, or the name of a person who may be appropriate for you to
• Secondary goals -- determine when the person has more time to schedule a meeting with you: "We're
reorganizing and I don’t know what's going to happen." Try: "How about if we schedule something for a
month from now? I'll call you ahead of time to confirm." Or: "May I call you back in a [month] to see if the situation
has changed?" Get other names if you haven't reached the proper contact person: "Can you direct me to
others in your organization that you think would be appropriate for me to talk with?"
Making the Call
• Do not leave your phone number. If you leave your phone number, they may leave a message on your
voicemail that precludes you from calling them again. You don't want them to call you back if you have
not had a chance to explain yourself. Leave one message saying that you called, and then keep calling
until you reach them. Many times you may reach the secretary who will ask that you leave a number.
Try: "I'll be in and out a lot so I'll have to call him back later. When would be a good time to call"? If you try
again and still do not get connected, try calling early in the morning or in the evening when senior
executives may answer their own phones. A personal greeting to the secretary may help: "Ms. Jones, I
really wanted a few minutes of his time (give reason). I was wondering if you could facilitate the process. Do you
happen to do his schedule for him? If not, I'll just keep trying." The next time, you can try: "Hi, Ms. Jones.
You're probably starting to recognize my voice. I hope I'm not bothering you. Is Mr. Smith in?" Establish a
friendly rapport with the phone screening staff.
• To get your paperwork to the boss: "Ms. Jones, do you know if Mr. Smith read my letter? ("No, I don't know.
He receives so much mail.") "Well, I'll fax you a copy. You can put it in his "to read" pile so he is prepared.
What's your fax number?"
• Unless you live far away, there is no substitute for an in-person meeting. You will be better able to
establish a relationship; the person is more likely to give you more and better information and may even
shuffle through his rolodex to give you names or pick up the phone and make a phone call on your
• Practice on your phone answering machine, practice with other people, warm up by calling a friend or
fellow job hunter.
• In your greeting - establish that you have a relationship already: "Hi. This is Steve Searcher. I've
researched your company and I am so impressed with your bold move into the European market that I had to call
you." Ask open-ended questions: "I'm so impressed with what you are doing…I'd love to hear more about how
you did that."
• You want a brief conversation that covers something of interest to them. This helps to form a
relationship with the person and increases the odds of your achieving your objectives -- most likely a
• Your cover letter outlined the most important points you want to make in your phone call: why you want
to see the person, your background, your key accomplishments that you want them to know about. Some
people find it easier to list their "talking points" and goals on a card.
• If the boss answers, establish a relationship. For example, "Hello. I'm so happy we could talk today." Go
through your script or checklist.
• If you get voicemail: try the company operator and see if you can get the name and number of Mr.
Smith's secretary or the name and number of someone who sits near him.
Be prepared for rejections, and have a response ready.
• There are no jobs here now: "I didn't expect that there would be. I'm contacting you because I'm very
interested in your company and your industry. I have twenty years' experience in direct marketing and a lot of
experience in an industry that is a direct competitor of yours. I thought it would be good for us to meet." Or, "I have
read that you are being challenged by Monmouth Company. Is that one of your chief concerns right now?”
• I'm busy: "I can understand with all that's going on. May we set up a time a month from now? I will call to
confirm to make sure that that time is good for you." If you show consideration of their time, they will often
suggest that you come in tomorrow or another date.
• I didn't get your resume: I'll fax it to you right now and then I'll give you a call back. What is your fax number?"
• We don't need people with your skills now: Try to ascertain their one or two greatest issues/problems.
Naturally, you have experience there.
• How did you get my name: "A few people mentioned I should contact you."
• From secretary: I sent your resume to personnel: "Thank you. However, I really thought Mr. Jones would
be interested in discussing a project I have done that relates to what he is doing at United Widget."
• Don't ask questions that require a yes or no answer. You've got to keep the conversation going.
Last Ditch Efforts to Get a Call Back
Appeal to the target's manners: "I would really appreciate it if you would call back to tell me when would be a good
time to talk." Or: "It would be so considerate of you to call me at 123-4567. I haven't been able to get through to you."
Or: "I have been trying to break into United Widget. I'm sure that it is a fine place to work. I'd really like your opinion of
how I can further my candidacy at United Widget. Thanks…Is there someone else you suggest I speak with"?
Adapted from www.fiveoclockclub.com
Career Development Center
White Activities Center