Connecting with employers, either by phone, email, or via social media, is a critically important part of your job search. You may be looking for an informational interview, inquiring about a job posting or whether they are hiring, or following-up on a previously submitted application or after an interview. In connecting with employers, you are actively creating opportunities to create the job, and career, you have always dreamed of, instead of passively waiting for employers to contact you.
Although it may seem a bit “old school,” the phone can still be one of the best ways to connect with employers. In a world that is so reliant on digital communication, a phone call can be refreshing with a voice and tone that convey enthusiasm and excitement. All this adds a personal touch that is simply not possible via email.
In many cases, your employer outreach may be via “cold calling” which is calling someone you do not know to ask for something. This can be difficult to do, making it a task that many job seekers avoid. However, done well, it can be more successful than other outreach. The trick to making it easy is to be prepared, and to practice.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
“Hi Bill Braun. My name is Amina Kaur. Janet Smith from Rocket Post Production suggested that I give you a call. I am looking for work as a Production Assistant and am in the process of trying to build my network. I have over 5 years of experience as an Event Coordinator and have most recently made the transition into the film industry as an Office PA on The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve been keeping up with the fantastic work that your production company has developed, and although I don’t expect that you have an opportunity now, I would like to request a meeting so that we can get acquainted. I feel I could learn a lot from you and would really value your advice! Which day next week would work for you? I’ll work around your schedule.” (30 seconds)
Here are some guidelines and a formula for requesting an informational interview via email:
Make sure your subject line is succinct and clear, for example “Request for Career Advice”. Busy professionals get a lot of emails, and they often prioritize by scanning the subject line. If you were referred by someone they know, put that in the subject line, for example “Jane Smith recommended I contact you”. Be descriptive and straightforward; avoid trying to be clever.
The term “Elevator Pitch” – which is sometimes called a 30-second summary – is a self-introduction intended to pique the interest of someone who could help you in your career. Although there are many theories about its origins, the idea is what you might say to someone who could be an important contact during a brief elevator ride.
Your elevator pitch should be a brief summary that outlines your skills and experience, shares interesting or important information, and presents you as a potential contact, colleague, or even candidate. Like TV commercials these are persuasive pitches intended to generate interest in the product . . . you! And like commercials, or short elevator rides, they should be brief.
Elevator pitches are important tools in any job seeker’s toolkit. They can be used at career fairs and networking events and for all those informal conversations that happen at the bus stop, in grocery store lines, or during flights.
Here are a few guidelines to get you started:
Be CONCISE. Although some say your pitch can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, 15 seconds is better. Once you’ve prepared it, rehearse it a few times and time yourself. Edit it down if it’s too long.
Be CLEAR. Use language that comes naturally to you, and that everyone will understand. Avoid jargon and words/phrases that aren’t part of your day-to-day vocabulary.
Include a HOOK. This is the part that literally snags your listener’s interest and makes them want to know more. Pique their curiosity! Get them to ask you for more information.
Any good elevator pitch will have fairly common structure that:
States WHO you are. Introduce yourself by name and add some context such as being a current student, recent graduate, or even aspiring professional. For example, I’m an aspiring Screenwriter.
Outlines WHAT you do. Keep it simple and focus on one statement rather than giving a laundry list of skills.
Shares something UNIQUE about you. This could be a specific skill or talent or a statement about the benefit you bring to an employer.
Concludes with an invitation ENGAGE. Remember that many opportunities open up when you learn how to access the hidden job market and it all begins with building important relationships with industry contacts.
Here are a couple of examples:
“Hi, I’m Jesse. It’s great to meet you! I’m currently completing a Graphic Design Diploma at Toronto Film School. I’ve excelled in learning how to create digital video and visual effects for corporate websites. Eventually, I’d like to help my clients with their internet marketing and promotion and help them incorporate e-marketing into their overall marketing plan. I’m curious – who designs and maintains your website?”
“Hello, I’m Carlos, so nice to meet you! I’m a recent graduate of the Video Game Design & Animation program at Toronto Film School. I’m passionate about creating beautiful, thought-provoking animations for a variety of mobile games and apps. Currently, I work as a Quality Assurance Tester at ABC Inc. I’m looking for experiences to learn more about career paths and ways to grow into an Animator role over the next few years. Your work has inspired the ways I think about design— I would love to talk more about a potential mentorship with you if that’s something you have time for and would be interested in.”
“Nice to meet you! My name is Quinn. I’m a Teacher, turned Actor, who would like to merge both of my passions to become a professional Acting Instructor. Recently, I have been working one-on-one with clients to assist them in preparation for auditions and job interviews. I prefer to work with new graduates, who are looking to build their experience. I’m curious, what do you do?”
Opportunities don’t happen.
You create them.