Sunday, May 1, 2011

Advice on cold calling for jobs

I've been looking for a new job lately, since COBOL really isn't why I got into this industry.

The popular job sites don't seem to be listing anything, and I haven't really found anyone with jobs listed on their site, so I'm considering going another route - cold calling (well, cold emailing).

I was some listings from a few months ago on a job site, trying to get a feel for some of the local companies. I found a place that sounds like it could be decent (a friend of mine apparently used to work there, but that was nine years ago and he was in QA), and I'm trying to figure out how to look into getting a job there.

I probably don't know their tech of choice (VB, C#, and a brief mention of Delphi), but that's sort of the point. I'm basically looking for a good company that can mentor me into a real developer.

Any advice on how to go about contacting these people, or what to say when I do?

From stackoverflow
  • Networking is the best route. Go to some user group meetings for technologies you're interested in, or are popular in your area. Get to know some people, make sure they know you. If possible, get a speaking slot - this will let you show your expertise in the technology, as well as giving you a good motivator for digging into a topic. The best jobs are ones you get referred to, not the ones you go hunting.

    Harper Shelby : Assuming that's not all tongue in cheek...I don't recommend pretending to care about something. It's usually possible to find *some* networking group you actually do care about, even if it's not a passion (e.g. you care about it because it makes you employable). Faking it will generally fail in the long run anyway.
  • The most important thing to do when calling for jobs is to get the name of the person who is going to be making the hiring decisions (a Development Manager ideally). Calling without a name is going to result in not getting past the receptionist, and aiming too high (i.e. executives) is going to get you dismissed.

    These can be a surprisingly hard thing to find. Most companies will only list executive-level employees on their website. LinkedIn can be a good resource, but if you don't have a fairly strong network yourself, you may be prevented from seeing some key details. Don't worry about an e-mail address, if you have a name you can call and also try some common e-mail combinations (first initial, last name, or

    Cold-calling alone also may not be your best strategy. I'd recommend sending a resume and cover letter, and following up with a phone call a day later. Your resume might not be read when it appears unsolicited in an e-mail box, but at least the manager might remember the e-mail, and at least he has something to go over when he's having a phone conversation with you.

    Another thing to consider might be sending your resume to a recruiter. In my last round of job searching, I had 3 interviews set up within a week, and 2 offers a week later. If you find a reputable tech recruiter it can be very valuable.

    Gavin Miller : -1 The majority of your answer is called spamming.
    Erik Forbes : Spam is *commercial* unsolicited email - email with the express purpose of selling a product or service. Since he wants to be hired as an employee and not a consultant, this doesn't qualify as spam.
  • There are a couple of different routes to my mind:

    1) Networking - If you can find local user groups that may be of an interest to you this is probably a good way to see where a lot of other people are and possibly get some advice from those that have been in the field for a while. Granted you may get the odd brush off or a, "Why are you asking that?" kind of response, it is a way to get some ideas.

    2) Recruiting firms - Granted these firms may be looking for those above junior in most cases, there may be some that can help you find something or make suggestions.

  • You're running a small scale Permission Marketing campaign on brand you. Unfortunately you haven't got permission from your cold call targets, unless they have a hiring need that is. So do some basic research,

    1) Every time a company wins a contract big enough to hit the press you can be sure that somewhere there's an IT requirement.

    2) Find out what tech the company uses - getting through to a sysadm is normally straightforward, if you ask the right questions you'll find what tech/projects are being run.

    3) don't apply to companies that are laying people off.

    4) Don't bother with companies in the midst of a downsize, takeover.

    At least now when you call, you've qualified your leads, next find out first what they're problems are, don't lead with your skills. Customers buy fixes to problems not technical ability.

  • Do a little bit of research on your targets' businesses, then stress what skills and past experiences you have that would make you successful as part of their team. This is the sort of information you'll want to include in your cover letter.

    If you don't match the skills they're looking for to a T, they may still be impressed by your eagerness to learn more about the company and to find a role with their team.

  • IMO, you're better off learning the industry trends and focusing on the skills that complement your chosen career path, than to try joining a tech company without having prior knowledge of what technologies it uses.

    Technical companies are not as dependable as companies in most other established industries, so you need to keep yourself flexible.

    If you're still keen on working at the company, I'd suggest networking to figure out what technologies are in use, then ramping up your technical skills so you have a better chance at passing the technical interview.

  • One way that I cold called when I recently moved to a new city was to find/create a list of all the software development shops in town; match them with my skill set and then use their websites to look for job postings. This was incredibly effective and I had a batting average (responses/resumes sent) of ~65-75%.

  • How about getting in touch with your friend who actually worked at this company nine years ago?

    Even if his information is out of date, he may be able to tell you something about the company or the people working there that would increase your chances of getting an interview signficantly.

    He may also tell you something that might make you decide not to work at this company.

    Provided he did a good job while working at this company, having your friend introduce you to someone on the inside is probably worth more than any cold calling strategy.

  • In addition to searching on your own, I would create an account on places like Monster and Dice and post your resume. List your skills, education, and experience and describe the type of work you're looking for. The recruiters and companies will then find you. You can hide your contact information so that they only way they can communicate with you is through the job posting service.

    I would also create an account on LinkedIn and put that same information in your profile. LinkedIn is another place that recruiters love to look. Build your LinkedIn network by linking to people you know.

    Love em or hate em, recruiters hold the keys to a lot of the employment kingdoms. Some companies use recruiters exclusively to fill job positions because it's a lot easier for them to do searching that way. Find some recruiting agencies in your area and call them. Recruiters have far larger networks than you could ever hope to create.

    I would avoid cold calling companies. Personally, I find that to be obnoxious. Calling in response to a job posting is fine, but just calling out of the blue can create ill will with whomever you are contacting.

    It sounds like your looking for a junior position, which means that generally speaking it doesn't really matter which languages/technologies you have experience with as long as you have some sort of programming experience. Companies that are looking for junior developers are expecting to need to teach you a lot of things and are typically just looking for an intelligent person with a good attitude.

  • Better stick to COBOL if you're good at it.

    If you want to learn something new, better do that in your spare time. Pet projects are fun anyway:P

  • Read Nick Corcodilos' Ask the Headhunter. He will teach you how to contact companies about jobs, and how to research them first. ATH is a website, excellent email newsletter, book, and blog. Read all of the above, regularly, even after you get a job.


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