Many jobs are not formally advertised, rather, they are sourced through employee referrals. Some estimate the size of the hidden jobs market to represent up to 75% of all vacancies. Cold-calling (also called direct canvassing or speculative application) is a powerful tool, which if used correctly, can assist you unlock career opportunities and develop your career more broadly.

Use your network

Cold-calling is most successful when you start with people in your network, especially those working for a company of interest to you. Ask for contact details of people who can help you.

When contacting people you do not know, expect some rejections. Your enquiry will come without warning for employers and they may not be looking for staff.

Research the company

Research your target employer to build your knowledge through sources including; annual reports, LinkedIn pages and company websites.

Make the phone call

By phoning instead of emailing, you can make a good first impression, find out about current job opportunities and about what the employer wants to see in an application.

Use a phone script

  • Introduce yourself by name
  • Ask to speak to the person in charge of recruiting in the area of interest to you. Ensure you get their exact contact details (name, job title).
  • Express your interest in finding employment as the purpose of your call.
  • Be ready to talk about why you want to work in their organisation.
  • Be clear about the skills and attributes you bring to the job.
  • State your experience, the type of job you are seeking and why you have contacted that particular employer.
  • If there is a position, find out about the application process.
  • Keep the conversation business-like and brief.

Recruitment staff are often some of the busiest in an organisation. Be mindful that you may not always be able to reach your intended contact.

Apply for the job

If you are successful in finding an opportunity, you will most likely need to submit a targeted cover letter and resume. Make sure you tailor it to the job and the company.