So does cold calling work?
Are there better ways to market myself?

Most of us hate cold calling so we tend to stick to the same old way of marketing ourselves, i.e. when we need a new job we send out our résumé in response to job advertisements. But in a competitive market, if we're not getting anywhere, we might need to take a different approach.

One of the best cover letters I ever saw featured a target, similar to a dart board. In the centre of the board was an arrow, with the name of the company on the tail feather. In the bull's eye was the name of the applicant, and the heading above this picture was YOU'VE HIT THE BULL'S EYE.

This unusual approach resulted in an interview. The candidate stood out from the rest and, in the end, she actually got the job. A great result if ever there was one.

I wrote an unusual cover letter for a lady called Gayle who wanted to go back to something she had really enjoyed, working as a steward/kitchenhand on oil rigs and drilling ships. In the meantime Gayle had done something very different and realised that her cover letter had to stand out from the rest. Click here to see what we came up with.

I heard of another candidate who sent in a tin of beans to the employer. He had removed the label and replaced it with a shortened version of his résumé. Accompanying the tin was a brief cover letter saying that he was 'full of beans'. He got the job.

The lesson here is that if you're prepared to try a different approach, making yourself stand out from all those taking a more traditional approach, then things can work in your favour. Let's look at some more methods of cold calling.

All companies experience staff turnover. Time and effort, and sometimes a lot of money, is involved in finding replacement staff. Here's another idea for cold calling, and I'll use the example of a storeman looking for work. A short cover letter, addressed personally to the warehouse managers of various firms, is sent enclosing a résumé. Also included is a mini-wallposter (click here for an example) with the name, job title and telephone number of the applicant. The letter suggests that the manager pin the poster on his notice board beside his desk and, next time he needs a storeman, time and effort will be saved by immediately calling the applicant. Simple but effective.

If you are going to target companies directly by cold calling, there is no point writing to the human resource or personnel departments. You need to home in on the head of the department in which you'll be working. A personal letter, explaining that you've always been interested in XYZ company and requesting the opportunity to pick the brains of the addressee over coffee, is an effective cold calling method. You're not directly asking for a job. Having sent the letter, you then have to follow up with a phone call to try and clinch your goal of a meeting. It's not easy and people don't often have the courage to try. Yes, you will be brushed off in some cases, but that will tell you a lot about the target. Others will agree to meet you and may well refer you to others in their network, or suggest companies you hadn't even thought about. In the end you have nothing to lose.

To finish, here's another story and another idea. Back in the 1990s there was a group of people in the financial services sector who had all been made redundant in New York. They formed a club with the aim to disband the club once they had all found a job. To this end they handed out posters and even walked up and down the street in sandwich boards advertising themselves.

A simple poster is a great idea. Click here for a cold calling case study. You can drop it in to companies, pin it on notice boards, in shop windows, and you can hand it out to commuters at your local railway or bus station. All those commuters are heading off to their jobs in all types of organisations. Your poster might just strike a chord with one of those commuters. You have demonstrated not only your courage but also your INITIATIVE. You've shown that you want to work, so why wouldn't someone be interested? Worth a try? Why not?

If you want to discuss any of these ideas, then call or email me

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