Extreme Job Search Strategies

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Working your Prospect List
Now that you have completed your prospect list, it is time to “work your list”.

Remember, your next job could come from your friends or their friends! The best and easiest place to begin (and build your confidence and comfort) is your inner circle: friends, family, former co-workers, etc.

Working Your Prospect List: Business and Personal Contacts

Begin by composing an email explaining that you have been laid off and you are seeking their assistance. Let them know that you would appreciate any advice, suggestions, ideas or contacts they would be willing to share. Don’t be afraid to contact people that you have been out of touch with. Remember that most of us want to help others, and seeking their advice is flattering. Attach your resume, but remember, you’re trying to get information and contacts from them – not a job! Asking for help finding a job would put them off, making them not want to “brainstorm” with you. Indicate that you would appreciate any assistance!! Get in the habit of updating your spreadsheet to note your contacts, any results or additional contacts, and your next follow up date (determined by your conversation, or usually a week -- to determine if they had a chance to think about any ideas for you).

Continue on through your list until you have made contact, established a meeting date or follow up date. Capture any referrals from your “outreach” and add to your prospect list to contact.

Remember the 5 basics of setting up a job search network:

1. Building a base of contacts

2. Expanding your contact base

3. Getting and using referrals

4. Contacting the referrals

5. Following up

You should now be getting more confident and better prepared, and thus ready to contact people you know less well, such as those you’ve met at associations and professional organizations, people in different departments at your former company, and people in other companies or organizations.

You never know who can help you. Talk to as many people as you can. Quantity matters as well as quality when you’re setting up a network. The more people you’re in touch with, the better your chances of winding up with a job lead.

How to Cold-Call Referrals

The hardest part of networking for most people is cold-calling referrals. You don't know them, they don't know you, and it can be difficult to ask strangers for advice. But sooner or later it pays off. Even if you're out of work and feeling down and out about it, resist the temptation to avoid calling. Surveys of the unemployed consistently show one thing: those who keep calling get jobs.

Start by trying to make it easier for yourself. Ask your personal contacts to email an introduction, arrange an introductory meeting, or place a call and mention your name and say you’ll be in touch. An introductory call or letter can pave the way for your call and ensure that you'll get through to the person with no difficulties.

Always ask permission to use the name of your contact. Then do just that, both in phone conversations and in correspondence. Nothing drives the networking process more quickly and more effectively than a personal reference. That's how you break through into second and third level contacts. Always open the conversation or letter with a phrase such as "A mutual acquaintance, John Robertson, suggested that I contact you." The body of the letter (or phone conversation) should very briefly summarize who you are and why you're making contact. Then close with a proactive statement about calling or visiting soon to discuss mutually beneficial plans.

If your contact phones ahead and tells the referral to be expecting your call, make certain that you do so promptly. Don't delay or decide at the last minute that you don't want to speak with the referral after all. Your contact is helping you; don't let them down. You could damage your chances for any further help and destroy a potential valuable relationship.

Telephone Cold Call Prompt Checklist

Before you to call anyone, review this checklist for helpful hints!

One of the most important steps in your job-search campaign is effectively introducing yourself to employers and contacts that may lead to the opportunities they offer. Preparation is very helpful, and does not require an extensive effort. Only a few solid preparation steps are required.

Some experienced job hunters say they find it helpful to develop their own telephone call prompter for their initial calling efforts. You may find this tool can help you focus on the important items to discuss in the short time period available for a telephone presentation.

___1. Plan your presentation.

___2. Gather some advance information on the individual you are calling and on the company. You can use this in your conversation.

___3. Work out the format and items you want to present.

___4. Outline and note which items have the highest priority. Allow some flexibility to accommodate the responses and questions of the person you talk to.

___5. When you call, identify clearly who you are.

___6. Always use a name-referral source, if possible.

___7. Use a subject source, particularly if name referral is not available.

___8. Use a source of interest to the recipient, if possible.

___9. Be confident. Provide a brief, clear and concise statement of why you are calling.

___10. If you sense the recipient is rushed, has a meeting going, or prefers not to continue the conversation for some reason, ask: Is this a convenient time to talk or would you prefer I call back at a more convenient time?

___11. Build rapport. Quickly sense, from homework, company data and from discussion, several items of interest to the recipient.

___12. Draw out the recipient's interest in utilizing high-quality talent in their organization.

___13. In providing your presentation, focus it on

___a. their interest.

___b. a referral source.

___c. your mini-resume presentation.

___d. a statement on the value you can add to the organization.

___14. Maintain a two-way conversation interspersed with a few questions during your comments.

___15. Be brief, positive, and to the point on your skills and experience.

___16. Suggest a short meeting. State that you look forward to meeting to get acquainted, to discuss some common areas (developed from conversation and your homework), and to discuss what you can offer that would benefit the company.

___17. If at first your conversation does not succeed, be pleasant. Say you will call back at a more convenient time (ask when) or later when a need exists. Indicate you look forward to talking on the date selected, or “again soon" if no date is set.

___18. If action is left open-ended, inquire as to suggestions and opportunities elsewhere or other individuals to contact.

___19. Be persistent. Take busy and rushed conversations as a sign of busy times, not a brush-off. Such conversations and initial rejections often can be turned around to eventual job opportunities or leads.

___20. Remember these basic mechanics of an effective phone call:

___a. Be pleasant.

___b. Smile as you talk.

___c. Listen carefully.

___d. Visualize a friendly conversation you are prepared and confident to handle.

___e. Conduct the conversation at a moderate pace, varied in tone and expressing a positive and enthusiastic attitude.

___f. Include questions and seek suggestions.

___g. Be professional and express some knowledge of the relevant field, industry and marketplace.

___h. Include an appointment suggestion or request.

___i. When the conversation is completed, the employer

___ knows who you are.

___ has some understanding of what you can do.

___ recognizes that you are knowledgeable about their business and market.

___ knows that you feel you can be of value to the organization.

___ is aware you feel you are qualified and fit the needs for an available or potential position (if that is the case).

___ knows that you want to meet.

___ is encouraged to respond to your request for a meeting or a future meeting with a time set for the meeting or follow up.

___ is asked to provide leads and opportunities when no specific opportunity or meeting results.

___21. Be prepared for a 5-10 minute presentation. It should include a quick and succinct verbal resume presentation of important experience/background/education/training if necessary or requested. Relate background as much as possible to the company's business, activities, market and specific job if available. Be flexible and prepared for a shorter conversation as well as the opportunity for a lengthier discussion.


Following Up With a Referral Voicemail

We recommend that before you call someone who you’ve been referred to, you send them a resume and cover letter (either by email or USPS). Give the person 5-10 business days, then follow up with a phone call.

Most likely, if you try and reach this person, they won’t recognize your name immediately and will direct the receptionist to put you in their voicemail.


“Hi Mr. Jones, this is Sally Job Seeker. Bill Murray, a member of your accounting team, is a friend of mine. He mentioned that ABC Company has a Customer Service opening and gave me your contact information to discuss this opportunity.

I sent you my resume last Monday and am calling to follow up with you. In the meantime, I have been checking out ABC Company’s website to find out more about your organization. When you have time, I’d appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about the position and working for ABC Company.

If you would like to reach me, you may give me a call at 314-555-5555. Otherwise, I will follow up with you via email in a few days.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to speaking with you!

Sally Job Seeker

Keep this message to 30 seconds or less, as you don’t want to give away too much information, but still make sure the message contains the following:


Following Up With a Referral - Speaking to the Person

You might get lucky and the person whom you were referred will take the call. If so, you need to be prepared!


“Hi Mr. Jones, this is Sally Job Seeker. Bill Murray, a member of your Accounting team, is a friend of mine. He mentioned that ABC Company has a Customer Service opening and gave me your contact information to discuss this opportunity.

Do you have a few minutes to speak with me about this opening and my qualifications?”

If Yes:

“Thanks so much. I had sent you my resume last Monday, I was first following up to see if you received it. My background is in Customer Service and based on the job description on the ABC Company website, this would be a fit. My last position at XYZ Company mirrored the duties of this Customer Service position…

…Having done extensive research on ABC Company and after speaking to several individuals who work at ABC Company, I want to find a way to join your organization…

…I would love the chance to meet in person and speak with you in greater detail about ABC Company and this particular Customer Service opening. When can we do this?

…Thank you for your time. I look forward to speaking with you next week!”

If No:

“I’m sorry that we can’t speak right now; I hope I’m not bothering you. Is there a better time when I can reach you?”

This kind of script is loosely interpreted because the person with whom you are speaking will have responses and feedback that you are unable to predict. Make sure you say the following:

Follow up Voicemail  

Sometimes you won’t have an “in” at the company with a referral. You may have a specific person at ABC Company that you want to reach, or there might be times when you are reaching out with the hopes of getting in touch with the right person. These kinds of calls can prove difficult (and sometimes awkward!), but writing a script beforehand and practicing before you pick up the phone and start dialing.

John Job Seeker:

“Hi Ms. Thompson, my name is John Job Seeker. I have been researching St. Louis organizations that are within my area of expertise and spoken to several employees of ABC Company. In doing so, I would like to find a way to join your organization in as a Marketing Specialist.

I submitted my resume and cover letter to you last Monday,  I just wanted to follow up with you on that or make sure it went to the right person. When you have time, I’d like to follow up with you to explore possible job opportunities with ABC Company.

If you would like to contact me, my number is 314-555-5555. Otherwise, I will follow up with you via email next week.

Thanks and I look forward to speaking with you!

John Job Seeker”

Keep this message to 30 seconds or less make sure the message contains the following:

Following Up

Begin thinking about a follow-up during your conversations or meetings with contacts. Keep in mind: A meeting isn’t an end; it’s a beginning. Before hanging up or hitting “send”, ask if you can follow up at a later date. Better yet, give the person a definite time when you will call again. Utilize the same follow up tracking procedures as directed with your business and personal contacts.

Set up a concrete reason for checking back with your contact – following up on suggestions, names you’ve been given of companies to apply to, research to do. When you have a reason for calling back, it makes it simpler and more logical for you to be keeping in touch. It also guarantees that you will follow up. Networking emails or phone conversations are similar to regular interviews. You’d send a thank you note to a prospective employer; you should do the same for referrals and contacts. It’s a good way to remind them of your meeting, and you.

Again, let your contact set the schedule. Just be certain that you adhere to it and re-connect with each person within the agreed upon time. Report back to your contact when a lead pans out. It's not only professional to do this, but it keeps that person aware of and interested in what you're doing and where you're going. Even if a secondary contact doesn’t develop into a job lead, when you keep your primary contacts advised, you’re inevitably drawing them closer to your corner for future contacts and assistance. This is how psychological leverage works in networking. In your initial contact, you've offered to help them in any way possible. You've been thorough, courteous, and professional in following up each time, and now you're reporting back with a progress update and another thank you.

Working Your Prospect List: “Target Companies”

You have done all of your research. You have contact information, so now it’s time to begin working the target company prospect list. Remember, companies have or will have opportunities that are not currently available, and/or are developing a “talent pipeline” for openings down the road. So, even if you are told by HR or a hiring manager that there are no current openings, always suggest that they keep your resume on file for potential future opportunities.

Again, the easiest and most comfortable place to start is with referrals. By now, your personal network may have provided you with contacts at some of your target companies. Begin by composing an email (or letter) to your contact. In our Career Cafe we provide some sample letters/emails. Send your email with your resume attached, then update this contact on your spreadsheet. Be sure to note to follow up with 3-5 business days.

Utilize the same methodology with a true “cold call” email. However, the email/letter should be composed quite differently. Specifically, you need to briefly explain that you have done significant research (via web or have spoken to other employees) and have concluded that XYZ Company would be an outstanding company to work for. Remember, XYZ Company is currently being inundated with unsolicited resumes, so be brief, attach your resume, and follow up within 3-5 days.

If you still have no reply after 3-5 days, contact via phone (utilizing a script, if necessary) explaining that you understand they are probably deluged with unsolicited resumes, and if they can suggest other contacts within the company, you will follow up with an email for that information. Let them know that you will NOT be a pest! Ask them to save your resume for future, potential opportunities and put them on a 30 day follow up schedule.