Contacting Employers of Interest
Now that you have a list of companies that you are interested in, the next step is to contact them directly. You will be applying to specific positions that are posted or informing the company of your interest to work there and inquiring about any opportunities available. Remember, not every job opening is posted to the general public. In fact, 80 percent of jobs aren't publicly advertised, according to CollegeRecruiter.com. This means you have to do your work! Contact each company that interests you, even if you don't see a specific job opening.
Strategy #1 – Contact the Employer by Phone
Contacting the company directly by phone demonstrates a directness that many employers find impressive. By doing so, you are making an attempt to speak directly to the employer to introduce yourself and demonstrate your interest. Many job seekers choose not to call a company, so if you do, you will set yourself apart from the competition and showcase your confidence and communication skills. Review the guidelines below if you choose to contact the company by phone.
- To find the right contact person in the company, contact the Human Resources Department and/or the department in which you are interested. Explain who you are and that you are inquiring about career opportunities. Ask with whom you should speak about such opportunities, or to whom you should send your résumé.
- Think about what you will say before making the call using our tips on professional communication.
- Develop a phone script to help you prepare what you are going to say. Your 30-second commercial may be useful here, especially if you are talking directly to a hiring manager.
- Practice with your friends and family to ensure a confident tone of voice.
- Be sure that you have your résumé, calendar, pen, and paper before calling the company. You will need to be prepared to write down the person’s name (with correct spelling), answer any questions about your qualifications, and hopefully schedule an interview.
- Send the appropriate person a cover letter and résumé to follow up from your conversation.
Strategy #2 – Email Cover Letter and Résumé
If you choose not to contact the company by telephone, you can email your cover letter and résumé. In today's busy lifestyle, many employers are accustomed to communicating via email and may check email more frequently and more consistently than phone messages. Below is our recommended strategy for emailing your cover letter and résumé. Keep in mind that if your initial communication with the employer is by email, it may be beneficial for you to follow up with a phone call if you do not receive a response from your email. Review the guidelines below for appropriate follow-up.
- Always send your cover letter and résumé to a specific person and contact the Human Resources Department if necessary to get the name of the appropriate person.
- Target your cover letter to that specific company — research the company's news and current events and use some of this information in your letter.
- If you are responding to a specific job posting, be sure to draw parallels between the skills being described in the job description and your skills.
- If you are not responding to a specific job posting, draft a general cover letter.
Strategy #3 – Follow Up
Following up will set you apart from the competition. When writing a cover letter, you may want to indicate the time frame when you will follow up — usually 3–5 business days after sending your cover letter and résumé is appropriate. Demonstrate your ability to follow through in the manner you said you would when you said you would. Call the department or person to whom you sent your materials to check on your application status. Plan what you will say before placing the call.
If you leave a message and don't hear back from the employer within a week of the application submission, follow up with another call. Call a total of three times and then move on to keep the momentum of your job search. Keep in mind that your time frame may not be this particular company's time frame and it may take longer to hear back from them.
Staying motivated and positive during a job search can be challenging. Having a substantial list of employers to contact will help. When your list is running low, repeat the steps for identifying employers and use your growing network of contacts to give you advice, direction, and hopefully job leads.