Cold Feet About Cold Calling

by Veda Darby Soberman, former Head Editor, INALJ Hawaii
previously published 12/16/13

Cold Feet About Cold Calling

veda.darby.sobermanCold calls have long been used by businesses to sell their services or products.  We all dread those telemarketing calls, and junk emails, and we easily hang up or press delete to avoid the sales pitches, but cold calls are actually a marketing tool which can be used to great effect in the business of job hunting.  Cold calling is helpful in building personal connections with hiring managers, finding hidden jobs which have not been advertised, creating an early contact for hiring, and making yourself stand out among a sea of applicants.  The fear of being rejected can undoubtedly cause cold feet when cold calling to sell yourself as a valuable asset to an organization, but here a few things to help you prepare and hopefully overcome the anxiety:

  1. Do the necessary research prior to a cold call to determine which individual is ultimately responsible for hiring in the department you are interested in.  Make your inquiry with the person responsible for hiring, not just human resources or the receptionist.  Finding hidden jobs, those ones which HR or the greater organization may not know about yet is what makes the cold call worth the effort.  So, carefully direct your cold call.
  2. Determine your method of contact.  Today, cold calling can take the form of a telephone call, email or even social network site message.  These methods of communication can each be successful, but again, research the organization, or person of contact, to determine which may be best.  My preference is to start with an email, and follow up with a phone call if a response is not received within a couple of business days.  Contacting a person through a social networking site may be preferable if you know that this person is very active in social media, or if you cannot find a direct email or phone number.
  3. Know what value you can add.  Phrase the inquiry as an offer to contribute to the organization.   You will feel a lot more confident in your communications if you take this approach rather than simply asking what positions may be available.  Remember, cold calls are used to make sales.  What skills, knowledge and connections are you selling?  Start with who you are, what you know about the organization and what you provide.
  4. Consider yourself a peer of your contact.  Think of yourself as a business trying to make a deal with another business, rather than a telemarketer trying to sell a product to a customer.  The recruiter is doing a favor by spending the time communicating with you, but you are also taking the time to share what you can offer.  This can be helpful to the organization because if and when positions are available, if you are in their minds as a possible candidate, it is one less resume to sift through to find a potential hire.  It is important to be respectful because you are asking a favor of the hiring manager, but don’t be afraid to speak comfortably about yourself, the field and organization.  Showcase your knowledge and personality when it feels appropriate.
  5. Be prepared to hear, “Sorry, we are not hiring right now.” Don’t be discouraged.  Really it is more likely that a position is not currently available.  Just don’t let the conversation end there.  Focus on cultivating a relationship with your contact person. Ask about how you could to follow up at a later date, and be sure to do so.


Hopefully these pointers will help with your next round of cold calls.


Good luck!



Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.