“Would this annoy you?” Yes. Yes it would.

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A loyal Clue Wagon reader sent me a link to this article, asking, “As a recruiter, would this annoy you?”

Yes.  Someone calling me at the end of a meeting when I have to pee, to recite a script that says…what?  “Please hire me, because I’m really sick of being unemployed, and I’m really fabulous?”  Yep, that would be annoying.

I see these articles a lot.  In fact, they’re one of the reasons I started this blog.  And the thing is, the advice isn’t really too far off the mark.  I mean, you can’t just apply and wait for something to happen.  You have to make contact.  But this article is missing a few key points:

  1. Phone calls suck. I’ve said this before:  a telephone is an inherently rude instrument.  You’re busy doing something, and suddenly a loud bell rings, and you’re supposed to drop everything because it was a good time for someone else to talk.  That’s a flawed concept.  That’s why email was invented.  If you want to cold-call complete strangers, cold email them instead.  At least then there’s some chance that you won’t annoy the crap out of them, that they’ll remember your name, and that they’ll be able to actually respond to you.  I don’t have time to talk to people when I’m running from one meeting to another, but I have time to respond to emails at 5am (when I can’t call, because it’s too early).  The email candidates get a response.  The phone candidates probably won’t.
  2. Scripts suck. Have you ever received a call from a telemarketer?  They have scripts too, and they’re annoying.  Most people aren’t good at delivering a script.  That’s another reason email works better than phone calls.  I’m a fan of having a few key bullet points written out to help keep you on track during difficult conversations.  But scripts?  Nope.  Additionally, what are you going to say that’s going to make me want to throw out my current hiring process and just pick you instead?  Even if the hiring process is bad, most people aren’t going to admit it that easily.
  3. Everyone’s doing this. The economy is bad, and it has been for a while.  That means salespeople aren’t making sales.  Do you know what salespeople do?  They cold call.  The HR people I know aren’t answering their phones at all anymore, because they’re being bombarded with cold calls from desperate salespeople.  Do you really want to get into that mix?  Because if you think you’re the only one calling to say you want something, you’re crazy.
  4. “Key hiring positions” are relative. I hope the book spells out that someone in a “key hiring position” is a hiring manager, not an HR person.  Remember, HR people don’t hire (unless the job is in the HR department).  Hiring managers hire.  That’s why they’re called “hiring managers.”
  5. It’s a whole lot of peddling in the wrong direction. You’re supposed to do in-depth research to find all of these names of people to call, and “the point is not to know them personally, just [to get names of] people to call.”  That’s a lot of work just to get 50 names so you can get one interview (and really, I think that’s an incredibly optimistic ratio).  What if you put that same effort into building a network so you DID know someone personally?  Because cold calling doesn’t get you a job.  Warm calling gets you a job.  Spend your time building your network so that when you put a message out to everyone you know saying, “Does anyone have a contact at Acme Corporation?” someone does.  THAT’S a good use of your time.

Don’t get me wrong—there are a few things about this message that are dead on.  I agree that you have to be aggressive about looking for a job.  I agree that you have to talk to a lot of people.  I definitely agree that you have to be prepared for rejection, and that you can’t let all that rejection get you down.  It’s part of the job of finding a job.

In terms of the mechanics of how this is supposed to work, though, I have to ask:  Do you like getting calls from telemarketers?  Do you buy what they’re selling?  Because this approach boils down to the same concept…calling a bunch of people hoping someone will bite.  That plays to your desire to DO something to alleviate your frustration, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a job.  Putting that same about of effort into a more targeted approach will get you back to work much faster.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven’t read the book in question…just the blog post I linked to above.    I tried to find the book, but they didn’t have it at my nearest giant two-story bookstore, and my local library didn’t have it either.  I didn’t think I knew the author of the book, but in trying to find his company’s website or something else to tell me about his background, I found his LinkedIn profile.  Apparently we worked for the same company at the same time.  I worked in Milwaukee, and he evidently worked in Chicago.  I don’t remember him, and I don’t think we ever met (although I suck at remembering stuff like that, so if he reads this:  Sorry dude.  Nothing personal.  I’m bad at remembering stuff like that).  I avoided going to Chicago whenever possible, and I was on maternity leave for a big chunk of his time there, so I don’t really know anything about him.  His LinkedIn profile appears to be incomplete, and I couldn’t find a company website for him.

Photo by The U.S. National Archives

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