Cold calling and emailing is the practice of contacting potential employers directly by phone, or by email (including messages sent within platforms such as LinkedIn), without any prior contact, to find out about potential opportunities. This is best accomplished by identifying and understanding your skills, and how they are relevant to the employers you approach and the jobs they may have available.
What's The Purpose of Cold Calling & Emailing?
Statistics indicate that most jobs available at any given time are not advertised – combined, these opportunities are known as ‘the hidden job market’. To find these jobs, different approaches to job searching are required, one of which is cold calling or emailing.
Cold calling and emailing can be successfully combined with networking if you have a list of personal contacts that are in a position to help you or can refer you to someone else who may be hiring. See the Networking Strategies Tip Sheet
Effective Cold Calling & Emailing Strategies
1. Getting Started
Cold calling and emailing may seem intimidating, but the strategies to success is being prepared and organized. Be sure to:
Update your resume identifying the skills and qualities you would like to highlight to employers and the relevant experiences that support them.
Start an organized list of the companies you want to contact, including company information gathered from research, and questions you plan to ask.
Develop a system (notebook or agenda – print or electronic) to record when and who you speak with or email, what was said, and when you will be following up (if you make a successful contact).
Make sure to review your notes after calling/emailing and reflect on what you can do better next time.
2. Finding Contacts
Locating good contacts is critical when looking for a job. Keep your eyes open and be creative. Places to look for contacts include:
Directories that identify and organize prospective employers according to industry, career and/or geographic area. Numerous directories are available in the UTM Career Centre library and on the UTM Career Centre website.
LinkedIn is a great resource to locate companies and people who work in these companies.
Professors, family, fellow students, neighbours and friends, all of whom can provide access to their personal networks—you might be surprised who they know!
Once you have compiled an initial list of companies, determine who specifically within the company you should speak with or email. You want to connect with the person most likely to be responsible for hiring in your area of interest. To do this:
Research the company, either online through their website, on LinkedIn, using directories/other publications, or with informational interviews. See the UTM Career Centre Information Interviewing and Company Research Tip Sheets.
Review the individual's LinkedIn profile.
This research will also help generate good questions to ask when you call or provide information to reference in an email.
Pre-call the company’s reception number if you have difficulty finding the names of individuals in charge of specific departments (*Remember you are only asking reception for the name of the individual, not to say that you are looking for a job or want to know if they’re hiring. If you are asked the reason for your inquiry, say that you are doing some research on the company or want to address an email to the hiring manager. Be sure to confirm the correct spelling and pronunciation of the contact name plus their job title).
3. Prepare your Marketing Script or Pitch
Before making any calls, you want to prepare a script (or pitch) to give your conversation some structure and ensure that important details are not forgotten (contact name, title, company information, questions). The script should not be thought of as something you will ‘read’ but rather as something to help you make the best use of your time on the phone.
Your marketing pitch should be no longer than 20 seconds, tailored to the company, and should include:
an introduction using your full name and addressing the employer by “Mr.” or “Ms.” Do not make a mistake on their personal titles; such as Ms. Mrs. Mr. If you do not know their gender, use their full name rather than using wrong titles.
an introductory question asking whether it’s a good time to call or if you could schedule a better time if they sound busy or respond negatively. You might also add that you don’t plan to take up too much of their time because you know they are busy.
brief details about your relevant background/experience, an explanation that you are looking for a new position or are hoping to work in a new environment, and that you would appreciate any advice or information regarding positions within their company.
Note: be prepared to expand on these details if the employer asks for more information about you and have your resume in front of you for reference.
4. Making and Managing the Call
When you call, you’ll likely be connected in one of the following ways:
Directly to the employer: Proceed with your pitch after confirming if it’s a good time, and remember to take notes while you talk. At the end of the conversation, be sure to thank the employer for their time and ask if you can follow up at a later date. After the call, be sure you’ve noted all important information and determine if a follow-up is appropriate.
To a voicemail: State your name, the date/time, and a short message based on your script; leave a number at which you can be reached, or mention a time when you will call back. If you leave a contact number, be prepared to take their return call at any time at that number (have your notes and resume with you). You should also have a voicemail set up on your cell phone to receive their replies.
5. Writing Cold Emails
If done right, cold emails can be an effective way to reach out to decision-makers. Here are the steps to take:
- Identify the appropriate person to contact. Companies usually list their senior-level employees on their website. You may be able to find their email addresses on their LinkedIn profiles.
- Tell them exactly why you are contacting them. Tell them who you are, where you got their contact information, and why you are interested in their company.
- Personalize your message to the recipient. Use their name in the email and reference some of their notable work you admire and how that connects you and your motivation for writing the email. This shows you have done some research and have a genuine interest in them rather than what they can do for you.
- Keep it short and simple. A brief email is more likely to be read.
- Express appreciation for their time and reading the email.
- Follow up with a short email if you haven't received a response in a week's time. Do not follow up more than twice. It can hinder their workloads and interrupt their time if you follow up many times.
6. Phone Call or Email?
- Cold calls and emails can both be effective strategies to connect with hiring managers and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
- It can be challenging to get through to a prospective employer on the phone as there are levels of screening in place at many workplaces.
- If you are unsuccessful in reaching the person on the phone, sending an email is a good and low-risk alternative.
- Follow the steps outlined above and don't be discouraged if you don't receive a reply right away.
- Persistence can pay off and you may be surprised at who you can connect with using this method.
7. Keeping Track of Your Contacts
- Keep whatever system you’ve decided to use up-to-date (when and who you spoke with or emailed, what was said, and when/if you will follow up, any new contact information).
- Carefully keep track of who referred you to new contacts (plus any information that was provided about that person) so you can mention the referring connection when you speak to the new contact.
UTM CAREER CENTRE RESOURCES
Learn to Network Workshops are held regularly at the UTM Career Centre synchronously and asynchronously
Book an appointment with an Employment Strategist or Career Counsellor to plan your networking approach and practice your 30-second introduction
Tip Sheets: Effective Networking, Career Fairs, Company Research, Informational Interviewing, and more can be found on the Career Centre Website
Check out books on the job search and interviewing in our ebook collection found on the CLNx website and then go to Resources.
Visit our Career Resource Library for in-person resources like:
Launch Your Career: How ANY Student Can Create Relationships with Professionals and Land the Jobs and Internships They Want by Sean O’Keefe (2021)
Networking for People Who Hate Networking, Second Edition: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed and the Underconnected by Devora Zack (2019)
Taking the Work Out of Networking: Your Guide to Making and Keeping Great Connections by Karen Wickre (2019)
Pease note that this information is subject to change. It is best to refer to the original sources for the most up-to-date information.
updated July 11, 2023