Education Career Services

August 7, 2009

Turn a No-Call into a Conversation: The Follow Up Call

The advantage of pitching to the unadvertised job market

You’ve submitted your resume and cover letter to the manager of a company you’re interested in working for… not for a specific posting but before there’s a posting.  You’ve done your homework; you know that 80% of the hiring happens on the unadvertised side of the job market and that only 20% of job seekers fish in those waters.  Further, you’ve researched who leads the department where you’re interested in working and you’ve sent a networking letter (next post, watch for it) or a cover letter and your resume.

And no one

Not a bad thing, necessarily, because you know the power of a follow up call and how to turn it to your advantage.   You dial the number (you’ve done great research, remember), and an administrative assistant answers the phone.  Here’s what you say:

You:  Hello, this is (your name).  Is (manager’s name) available?

Her:  What is this in reference to, please?

You: I would like to talk to him about our recent correspondence. 

This should be enough to get you through, if she wants to know what the correspondence is about, say:  “Don’t worry, I’m not a sales person; I recently sent Mr. X a letter about your department and said I would call.  May I speak with him please?”   If she asks you to leave a message, leave your name and number and the reason is your recent correspondence.  Then ask for a better time to call.  Ideally, you’ve been put through.  If so….

You:  Hello, sir, I am (your name).  I recently sent you a letter regarding my interest in learning about your company.  Do you recall receiving it?

Him:  I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.  Why don’t you remind me.

You:  I’d be glad to.  I am a (specify kind) professional and I would like to learn more about your company.  I was hoping I could come in talk to you about it.

Him: We’re not hiring right now.

You:  I appreciate that, sir; I’m not asking for an interview but an informational meeting to discuss your company and industry.   My research suggests you’re the best person to talk to about that at my level.  Do you have availability this week for me to come in and speak with you?

Him: Wait, you sent me your resume!

You: Yes sir, I wanted you to know that I am a serious professional and this meeting wouldn’t be a frivolous use of your time.   A lunch meeting or fifteen minutes or so would be plenty.  Is tomorrow too soon?

Obviously, a conversation can go many different directions.  The key to a follow up call is to never refer to your resume, but your correspondence or letter.  Steer it away from from an interview (threatening to a manager) and toward an informational meeting (flattering to a manager — their expertise is valued). 

The assumptive close, “would Tuesday be good?” brings it back to the topic at hand — getting a face-t0-face meeting — and inclines the manager to give a date that would work.

Be prepared, though.  The manager may ask to make the informational meeting right then on the phone (“let’s do it now, what would you like to know?”).  Be ready to launch into your elevator speech (a 15 to 30 second summary of your value), ask questions about the company goals, needs, and operations, LISTEN, and be close with “how do you see a professional with my background fitting in?  What can I do to prepare myself for a job here?  Do you see a value for me to come in and meet  you so if a good opening springs up you have someone of interest?”

BUT, if the manager does agree to a face-to-face (score!), get ready for the Informational Meeting… you guessed it, come back for that on a future post coming soon…

Rob Swanson – Writing Manager, Career Services International – ; Education Career Services,


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