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Scheduling Interviews

You don't have to wait for an employer to contact you. There are things you can do to get your next interview scheduled.

After sending your cover letter and resume, you may contact the employer. It is like a sales call. You are selling yourself as a possible employee. You will have about 20 seconds to capture your contact's interest. You'll need to be brief, to the point, and persuasive.

Write a Script

Write down what you are going to say. This will help you remember what to fit in the short call. Here is an outline for your script:

  • Introduction. Tell the person who you are and how you got their name.
  • Lead statement. Make this a quick statement to get the person's attention. Explain why you are calling. Do not start by asking for a job or by saying that you are unemployed.
  • Body. Describe your qualifications. Sell yourself. Stress your skills, attributes, and accomplishments that are attractive to the employer.
  • Close. Schedule an interview. Or say what you will do to follow up (call again at a specified time, send a resume, etc.).

Practice in advance so that you sound natural. Avoid reading your script. If you have to leave a message, keep it 30 seconds or less. Be upbeat, simple, and clear.

Be sure the outgoing message on your voicemail or answering machine is polite and professional. Check your messages often. Respond to calls from employers as soon as possible.

Contact the Right People

Depending on the company's hiring process, you might have to first contact someone in the human resources department. You can also contact employers directly. For example, you can contact:

  • Employers who have advertised jobs. Even if an advertised job discourages direct contact, it is to your advantage to take the initiative. If the ad requests a resume, send it in before following up with a phone call.
  • Potential employers that you have learned about from your networking contacts. You can use the name of your networking contact to introduce yourself to the potential employer. Make sure they know that your goal is to set up an interview.
  • People you have not been referred to. This type of contact is called cold calling. It's difficult for many people, but can be an effective strategy for getting an interview.

Communication Tips

Remember, this call is your first contact with a potential employer. It's important to make a good first impression. Here are some tips for good communication:

  • Be organized. Have all of your job search materials with you and take notes.
  • Listen carefully. Pay attention to what your contact is saying and how it is being said. You want to know if the employer is interested or if you called at a bad time. An interested contact will often respond with questions. If you sense that you called at a bad time, ask if there is a better time.
  • Overcome objections. 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 without contradicting the interviewer. You want them to know that you've heard them.
  • Smile. Even over the phone, smile. It will come across in your voice.
  • Dress as you would for an interview. Your professionalism and preparation will come across in your voice.
  • Be persistent. Can't get past the receptionist? Try before 8 a.m., during lunch, after 5 p.m., or on Saturday morning. If you still can't get through, ask for the receptionist's help. Remember, it is the persistent 10 percent of salespeople who make 80 percent of the sales.

Your goal is to get an interview scheduled. But that may not be possible with every employer you talk with. Have a couple secondary goals in those cases. For example, you might want to:

  • Ask for an informational interview.
  • Present your qualifications in case an interview is possible in the future.
  • Find out the name of another staff member you might talk with about an interview.

Source: Adapted from Creative Job Search, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

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