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As we’ve discussed previously, running job searches online isn’t the only way to job hunt. In fact, if you’ve got your heart set on an organisation, you don’t need to wait for a position to come up. You don’t even need to wait for a networking opportunity.
‘Cold canvassing’ is the process of directly approaching employers and marketing yourself to them. There’s no doubt that it’s daunting, but if done right, it can really pay off.
Here’s how it’s done:
1. Research the organisation thoroughly
The organisation’s website is the logical first place to start. Pay close to attention to what the organisation does (sometimes we can assume things and not completely understand practical aspects of the business); their driving values; their strategic objectives and direction; key projects and clients; and, the organisational structure. Having a thorough understanding of the organisation will help you make a great first impression when you’re ready to contact the employer but it will also confirm whether or not they’re a good fit for you, before you waste time proceeding.
Follow the organisation on any relevant social media, search for references within formal media and chat to friends who have a connection to the industry to gain a more in-depth insight. Researching staff members via LinkedIn will also give you an insight into possible roles and career paths of the team. At this point, also keep a look out for appropriate contact points.
2. Decide what you want
If after all your research you’re still excited to proceed, give some consideration to what you ideally want and what you would accept. What area of the organisation would you like to work in? Why are you interested in the organisation? Are you requesting a meeting? Would you simply like some advice? Are you looking for a paid position? Could you accept an unpaid internship?
3. Clarify what you could offer the organisation
Consider your strengths, values and goals and try to articulate how they align with those of the organisation and why you feel you could be a valuable asset. There must be a reason this organisation appeals to you, so be confident and embrace these synergies. Remember, organisations are looking for people who are a good cultural fit, so if you’re right for them, it can make the task of recruitment easier.
4. Prepare your ‘sales pitch’
You are likely to be making initial contact through a phone call and you’ll need to make a great impression fast. The best way to prepare, is to develop a 30 second ‘pitch.’ Say the most important things first, for example, you may have been referred to the position or have a contact at the company – this gives you credibility quickly. Next up is your qualifications or relevant experience. Briefly state why the company appeals to you and how your personal attributes match the organisation. Finally, you need a ‘call to action.’ Remember, you need to understand what your objective is for your own clarity, but you don’t need to lead with this. For example, rather than asking for a job, consider stating, “I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss any opportunities that suit my experience,” or “If you have time for a coffee, I’d really appreciate the opportunity to ask you some questions about the industry.”
Try practising your pitch to a friend over the phone – keep in mind pace, tone and phone manner.
At this point, make sure your resume, portfolio and online presence are in tip top shape! If all goes well, they’re what you’ll use to back up your pitch.
5. Make contact
Remember that there’s no rush to make contact, so take all the time you need to feel prepared and confident. You’ll of course want to aim to talk with the contact person you identified during your research who seemed the most appropriate. However, this isn’t always as easy as you’d hope, particularly in larger organisations. You may speak with a secretary or assistant to start with, these staff members are commonly referred to as ‘gatekeepers’ – with good reason. Regardless of who you speak with, be friendly, flexible and appreciative, otherwise you may find that your enquiry gets no further.
When you get to speak with your desired contact, you need to be ready to comfortably talk through your ‘pitch.’ However, you’ll need to stay on your toes, they may ask questions that interrupt what you had prepared and this is ok. Stay present, consider their questions and statements and try to stay open and flexible.
If you succeed in getting a follow up meeting (congratulations!), make sure you follow through on what you’ve committed to – this is a great opportunity!
If you don’t seem to have any luck getting a follow up appointment, stay positive and politely ask if you could forward your resume to them for future opportunities.
That’s it! Good luck! If you’d like extra advice, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or call on (08) 9266 7802 – you can even practise your pitch on us! We’d love to hear from you