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>>Contacting Personal Contacts to Get into the "Hidden" Job Market

by Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck
National Certified Career Counselors & Life Calling CoachesSM

Once you have created a list of your personal contacts, your next step is to contact them by phone, email, or letter. This article provides a suggested script and a sample letter you can use when contacting people in your search to identify job openings (or gather other pertinent information).

Sample Phone Script

1.  Introduce yourself and explain why you are calling. 

"Hi, Jackie! This is Jane Morgan from your Bible Study Fellowship group. (Small talk...) I have a quick question for you. My job is ending next spring when my company moves out of state. I am looking for a job as a graphic artist for a non-profit agency. I know you work for the American Heart Association. I was wondering if you could give me the name of the person who manages the graphics arts area for your organization? I want to inquire about possible openings plus see if he or she would have any suggestions for me in my job search. 

OR 

"Good morning.  My name is Jane Morgan. John Jacobs suggested I give you a call as I'm interested in finding a job as a graphic artist. Would you have a few minutes to talk to me?" 

2. Briefly tell your contact about yourself. Create a "contact card" for yourself which lists pertinent information. You can use the information from the "Highlights of Qualifications" section of your resume to develop your contact card.

"I've had two years' experience designing and using desktop publishing software to produce brochures, newsletters and training materials as a part of my current job. I've really enjoyed it, and would like to move into doing graphics arts full-time."                  

3.  Request information and advice.  Sample information areas include:

  •  Employment opportunities in the field.  ("Are you aware of any current opening for someone with my skills?")

  •.  Individuals the person recommends you contact.  ("Do you know of anyone I could contact who works in this field?" and/or "Could you recommend anyone who might know of such an opening?  May I tell him/her you referred me?") Note:  Make sure to get the name (with correct spelling), title, complete address and phone number whenever you're given a new contact.

  •   If you are talking to someone who is having a difficult time coming up with any information for you, you can always ask a third question that usually will get a "Yes!":  "Do you know someone who seems to know a lot of people?

4.  Send a brief thank-you note that evening or the next day to each person who has provided you with some help. Thank each person for their assistance and ask them to please call or e-mail you if they think of anything else that could be helpful. (If appropriate, you could also enclose a copy of your resume.)

YOUR PRACTICE SCRIPT (Making contact calls is like any new skill: at first it may seem awkward and somewhat challenging. A practice script can help you think through what you want to say before you call. After you have made a few calls, you will find that it feels much easier and more comfortable!) 

Contact To Call:____________________________________

Phone #: __________________________

Information I Would Like to Obtain from this Contact:

_______________________________________________________________

What I Will Say and Ask:

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

Sample Letter (Or E-Mail)

An alternative strategy is first to write your personal contacts, and then follow up with a phone call. (It is essential to do the follow-up phone call; most people's lives are so busy that it is unlikely they will take the initiative to call you.)  One client sent a letter and his resume to 80 people in his church. During his follow-up phone calls, he received several leads, referrals and ideas for his job search. He felt it was well worth the time and effort he invested.

If writing to friends or family, you could use an informal format (as in the following example). If, however, you are writing to a professional contact and/or someone whom you don't know well, use a business format.

Sample informal letter:

January 8, 2009

Dear Julie:

I am writing to you and some of my other friends from Bible Study Fellowship to request your input for an important project I'm working on! My job will be ending in March, as my company is moving out of the state. I am currently job hunting, looking for a position as a customer service representative (in a call center). I have 12 years of experience taking phone orders and handling a wide variety of customer service issues. I like the customer contact and enjoy working over the phone. I am especially interested in working for a bank, credit union or mortgage company.

I am wondering if you might have any information or ideas for me! I would really value your input. For example, do you. . .

  • Know anyone who works in a call center?
  • Know anyone who works in a bank, credit union or mortgage company?
  • Know anyone who knows anyone with the above contacts?
  • Have any other contacts, ideas or suggestions for me in my job search?

I will plan on calling you next week (or you can call me at 714-595-6677 or e-mail me at    Davis123@aol.com, if you prefer). Any information or ideas you have will be appreciated. I look forward to talking with you!

Sincerely,

 

Sheila Martin

Summary

Remember that a job search is a search for information.  The more information you get, the more likely you are to find out about job openings. You may go through several contacts before you get some helpful information, but be persistent-- this strategy is a powerful way to tap into the "hidden" job market!

 © Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.

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