Creative Job Search: Telephone Communications (page 2)
Not many people can imagine a world without telephones. They have become a fundamental part of our lives. Telephone communications have advanced to a degree of sophistication few people could have ever imagined; telemarketing, voice mail, conference calling, e-mail, and FAX have all added to this revolution.
The telephone is a critical tool in a successful job search campaign. It is almost guaranteed that you will talk to a potential employer on the telephone at some point in the hiring process. Shrewd job seekers use advanced telephone marketing techniques in their job search. They use the telephone to make direct employer contact and to open the doors of opportunity. The telephone is a powerful tool in presenting your qualifications to an employer. Effective telephone techniques are critical skills all job seekers need.
Good telephone communication requires skills - skills that can be learned. Just because someone talks on the telephone a lot does not mean they are effective communicators. In fact, many people who use the telephone frequently have mastered some very offensive habits. It is never too early or too late to learn good telephone communications. Telephone skills are marketable job skills many employers value. In a comprehensive job search you will be using the telephone to conduct research, cold call employers, make networking contacts, schedule meetings, and to interview. Using the telephone is efficient; it's an effective use of your time and resources. The telephone can get you behind closed doors; it will help you contact hard to reach people.
Preparation is critical to good telephone communication. It is not wise to call someone and just start talking. This may work for family and friends, but it will kill a job search. Telephone communications in a job search campaign are business calls, not personal calls. Actually, they are sales calls. Some people have a hard time with the idea of telephone sales. None of us likes a pushy telemarketer. But many of the same concepts and strategies that go into telephone sales go into your job search campaign. A business or sales caller has about 20 seconds to capture the hearer's attention. Therefore, communication has to be to the point and concise. There is no time to wander. Scripting is the answer.
Scripting is simply planning what you are going to say before you say it. Most people script important conversations; they just don't realize that is what they are doing. Have you ever made an important call and found yourself hesitating to dial the last number? Or hanging up before you are finished dialing? You were probably scripting in your mind what you were going to say. You may want to take it a step further and write down what you plan to say. This is exactly what skilled telemarketers do; they have a script that they follow.
Basic Principles of Scripting
- Have an objective for the call. You may be seeking information, want to schedule a meeting, or present your qualifications to a potential employer.
- Have a secondary objective. Often you will not achieve your primary objective, but every telephone call is an opportunity to solicit information.
- Know the name of the person to whom you wish to speak. If you do not know the person's name, then obtaining it becomes your first objective.
- Outline what you want to say; write it down. This is important in the early stages of cold calling or when the call is very important. Later on, you will script most of your calls in your head. Do not read your script; your presentation should be natural.
- The script will depend on the goal of the call and whether you know the person you are calling. However, a good script should include the following:
Introduction: tell the person who you are.
Lead statement: a quick statement designed to get the person's attention.
Body: state your purpose for the call.
Close: accomplish your goal, ask for information, schedule the meeting, etc.
Basic Principles of Telephone Communications
- "Buy" Signals
- A "buy" signal is evidence that you have captured the person's attention. "Buy" signals usually take the form of questions. When someone is asking questions about your qualifications, they are, for the moment, interested in you.
- Objections come in many forms. "We are looking for someone with more experience or education," or "Sorry, we're not hiring right now." Press on to your goal and continue to sell your qualifications. Look for ways to eliminate the objection.
- Listen Carefully
- Communication is what is said, how it's said, and the body language that is used. It is important to listen carefully to what you are saying, how you are saying it, and how you are being received. If you sense you have called at a bad time, politely ask if there is a better time.
- Call from a quiet place where you can concentrate. Do not call from a noisy restaurant, bus station, street corner, when the kids are yelling or the dog is barking.
- Have all your job search materials nearby and take notes.
- It is the persistent 10% who make 80% of the sales! The best time to plan a follow-up is when you make the contact. While you have the contact on the telephone, agree on when you will call back. Keep a follow-up calendar and maintain a record of your contacts. If you agree to call back, be sure to do so. If someone agrees to call you, state the best time to be reached. The last thing you want to do is sit by the telephone waiting for a call that may never come.
- Telephone skills, like all skills, have to be practiced to be mastered. Start with low risk calls. Practice your presentation with a friend and read your script aloud.
- Voice Mail
- Whether you like it or not, voice mail is a part of our lives. Speaking to a machine adds a new dimension to telephone skills. It is a good idea to know what you will say if you do get someone's voice mail. Having a "script" ready in this instance will enable you to leave a message that is upbeat, simple, clear and concise. Remember, your message should be 30 seconds or less. It is amazing how an otherwise skilled telephone user comes across as monotone and unsure on a message machine. If you have an answering machine, be sure your message is polite and professional and you answer your messages.
Additional Telephone Tips
- Wear a smile on the telephone - they may not see it but they will hear it.
- Dress for making telephone contacts as you would for an interview - your professionalism and preparation will be heard ( who knows, you may be asked to come right down).
- If you can't get past a shrewd receptionist, try before 8:00 a.m., during lunch, after 5:00 p.m. or Saturday morning. If you still can't get through, solicit the receptionist's assistance.
- Look for ways to compliment the person or the company.
- Don't apologize for making the contact; you have a product they need and a right to present yourself.
- Don't sell yourself from a position of weakness or apologize for what you do not have or have not done. Sell yourself from a position of strength and stress those skills, attributes and accomplishments attractive to the employer.
Remember - The typical job search looks something like this:
|No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
No No No No No No No No No No No No No No NoNo No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
Reprinted with the permission of the Idaho Department of Labor.
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