Contacting Personal Contacts To Find “Hidden” Jobs

calling employers directly for job search

William Bridges, the author of 200 Letters for Job Hunters, reports that between fifty to seventy-five percent of desirable job opportunities arise through connections with friends and acquaintances, and this trend extends to their respective networks. This principle becomes even more pronounced as the job’s seniority increases, with up to 90 percent of senior executive and professional positions secured through personal connections.

Hence, it is crucial to actively engage your friends in your job search, going beyond merely informing them of your situation with a passive message like, “I’m out of work. Let me know if you hear of anything.”

Often, job hunters prematurely distance themselves from their personal networks to venture into unfamiliar contacts. Strangers are generally less responsive than those with whom you have established brief connections. Remarkably, participating in events like association meetings and trade shows can categorize you as a “friend” in someone’s perception.

When you’re searching for job opportunities or gathering important information, it can be challenging to know how to approach people. To help you get started, here’s a suggested script you can use as a guide. Once you’ve reviewed the examples, you’ll be ready to create your own script. You can even incorporate some of the strengths listed in your Strengths Summary to help craft it.

Here are the steps to networking through phone calls:

1. Introduce yourself and explain why you are calling.

“Hi, Jackie! This is Jane Morgan from your Bible Study Fellowship group. (Small talk…) I have a quick question for you. My job is ending next spring when my company moves out of state. I am seeking a new graphic artist position for a non-profit agency. I know you work for the American Heart Association. Could you provide me the name of the person who manages the graphics arts department for your organization?   I want to inquire about possible openings and see if he or she would have any suggestions for my job search.

Or if you were referred to the person:

“Good morning. My name is Jane Morgan. John Jacobs suggested I call you as I’m interested in finding a job as a graphic artist. Would you have a few minutes to talk to me?”

2. Briefly tell your contact about yourself.

This is where parts of your Strengths Summary become useful.

“I’ve had two years’ experience designing and using desktop publishing software to produce brochures, newsletters, and training materials as a part of my current job. I’ve enjoyed it and would like to continue doing graphic design for a non-profit organization.

3. Request information and advice.

Sample information areas include:

• Employment opportunities in the field. (“Are you aware of any current opening for someone with my skills and experience?”)

•. Individuals the person recommends you contact. (“Do you know of anyone I could contact who works in this field?” and “Could you recommend anyone who might know of such an opening? May I tell him/her you referred me?”) Note: Make sure you get the name (with correct spelling), title, complete address, and phone number whenever you’re given a referral.

• If you are talking to someone who is having difficulty coming up with any information for you, you can always ask a third question that usually will get a “Yes!”: “Do you know someone well-connected whom I could contact?”  You can probably move on to your next contact if you hear “no” to this question.

4. Send a brief thank-you note or email.

This is a great way to thank them for their time and advice.  Remember that written thank you notes sent by snail mail will always make more of an impression on the recipient.

Try to send your thank you note(s) on the same day whenever possible.

Thank each person for their assistance and ask them to please call or e-mail you if they think of anything else that could be helpful.  Your note could say, “Thank you for your time today.  I appreciate your assistance with my job search.  Should you think of any other suggestions, please call me at ___________or email me at __________________.  Thank you, Jim Smith.”

Summary

Remember that a job search is a search for information. The more information you get, the more likely you will discover job openings. You may go through several contacts before you get some helpful information, but be persistent– this strategy is a powerful way to tap into the “hidden” job market intentionally.

While these steps can be used following the sending of a Personal Contact Cover Letter, they can also be used when interacting with people at church, the supermarket, association meetings, and anywhere else where you are talking with people. For example, when someone asks, “How are you?, you can answer, “I’m doing great. You may not know, but I recently started looking for new work opportunities for using my graphic art skills. I’ve had over two years of experience and am looking for new challenges. By the way, do you know anyone looking for graphic art help?” From there, you can ask some of the other questions listed above.

Remember to write down any leads they give you, follow up with them, and write a thank you note.

Making personal contact calls is like any new skill; initially, it may seem awkward and challenging.  Keep at it; you will feel more comfortable and confident after just a few contacts.  Permit yourself to make mistakes, especially if you have perfectionist traits.  You can tell yourself that it is okay to do it poorly at first as this is a new skill you are developing.

If you are introverted, using this strategy will take some extra emotional energy.  A practice script can help you think through your words before you call. Print this page and write your own script using the guidelines above.

Practice Script:

Contact I will be calling: _________________________________________

Information I would like to obtain from this contact:

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Your script:

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