Sometimes you can find a job in the phone book. (CBC)

One of the of the most encouraging and terrifying pieces of advice I've gotten so far is not to rely on Job Bank to find a job. It's encouraging because I'm not limited in my job search to whatever popped up on Job Bank this week (and I'm not dependent on Job Bank actually working). It's terrifying because it means approaching potential employers when I don't know if they are hiring and who might end up acting dismissive or irritated.

I have always used Job Bank to find jobs. Before this week I had never made a single cold call. I called two businesses this week and was pleasantly surprised at how painless it was. Both places suggested I drop off a resume, and one place that I called mainly for practice - where I had no real hope - actually seemed to be hiring. It helped me break the cold-calling ice and made me feel like this strategy might pay off. I would call my cold-calling adventures this week a success.

Here are the tips for cold-calling that I got from my career counsellor:

  • Go through the Yellow Pages and make a list of businesses you think you might enjoy working for. I found this pretty fun and encouraging, because it made me realize just how many businesses there are in Charlottetown that fit what I'm looking for. There are job opportunities in places I didn't know existed before I started exploring the phone book.
  • Pick a few businesses to focus on each week. Don't overwhelm yourself. This is the week before exams and I'm completing final assignments, plus I was pretty nervous about the idea of cold-calling, so I picked two places to call this week. Keep in mind that over and above the calls themselves if you get any interest you will need the time to alter your resume/cover letter, meet with potential employers, etc. Make sure you have the time to do the potential follow up.
  • Decide whether you are going to drop in, call, or email the businesses you selected. Obviously, meeting face-to-face makes more of an impression than sending an email, but you can try different approaches and figure out what you're most comfortable with and what works best for you.
  • Make a script of what you're going to say, and practice. This is a lot less nerve-wracking if you're not fumbling for words.
  • If you're really nervous then it's a good idea to start with places you would enjoy working at but which aren't your dream jobs. That way you feel a lot less pressure to be amazing right off the bat.

Like every other aspect of job searching, aim for a positive perspective on cold-calling. Don't see it as a potential rejection or failure. Look at cold calling as an opportunity to practice your job-search skills and to learn about potential employers. I think my worst fear of cold-calling is that someone will yell at me for wasting their time. Even if that happens I would find out something valuable about that employer — that working for them would probably suck.