Job search phone phobia is very common. Here are some ideas that could turn your phone into the feather-light tool it should be and not a 500 lb weight.
There are many types of phone calls. The calls that give people the most trouble are the “Introductory Calls”. The purpose of the call is to make you known. The goal is to get an appointment or at least another call of longer duration. This type of call is infamously known as the “Cold Call”. If done right, with preparation and practice, you can turn it into a “Warm Call”. Here are some basics to help you:
1. Develop a script for your call and rehearse it periodically and out loud. Make sure you keep it brief remembering the goal is an appointment or another call. If too much is exchanged during that call there will be no reason for another.
2. Always stand when making a call. This will help you sound better and project confidence. Did you ever see a Choir sit when they sing?
3. Learn to talk with a smile. People hear your smile; and since they can’t see you don’t have to worry about looking silly if you’ve not done it before.
Hint: Hang a small mirror opposite you at the height you are standing. I dare anyone to stare at themselves in a mirror during a phone call and not crack a smile.
4. Make a list of your most feared questions. Script your answers and rehearse them out loud. Practice delivering each answer in 5 to 10 seconds.
5. Use an exercise-call: Always call a friend for exercise before calling someone who could be influential in your search. Having a friendly voice at the other end can do wonders before an important call.
6. Care & Feeding of Gatekeepers: Before calling a potential contact direct, try this: Call the company’s main number and ask for the name of the contact’s administrator. Call that person direct, and use his or her name.
7. Well begun is half done: Using a person’s name (the gatekeeper’s) may win you favor. Be polite and brief and understand you may not get through during that call and that’s okay; it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your flexibility. Ask the gatekeeper to suggest what you should do.
7 1/2. Don’t call me; I’ll call you: If asked to leave a number you can say that you will be in and out for the next several days and it would probably be best for you to try to call. Ask when h/she thinks it would be best.
8. Get Referrals: Research companies, reconnect with all your past contacts and seek referrals. Introductory Calls should be calls to persons to whom you are referred. It’s easier to get through a gatekeeper if you call and mention that Mr/Ms suggested you call.
9. Contacts to referrals: Treat your personal contacts as you would influential persons: Have a script and keep it brief. Brevity helps to ensure they don’t avoid your next call.
10. Voice Mail Jail: If you get sent to voice mail, you can try “O” to get an operator and perhaps find another number or person. Do not leave a voice mail message. If you do, you cannot call back anytime soon. You placed the ball in their court.
In a job search, we sometimes attach the “phone call” to all sorts of negative emotions, the greatest being rejection. Practicing the basic skills outlined in 1 through 4 and the other techniques suggested here will lessen an instinct to avoid the phone. This is the first step in overcoming phone phobia. Also, learn from experience. As they say, if you want to learn golf, play golf. After a few calls, following your exercise call to a friend, it starts to get easier.