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Effective Phone Calls
Remember to Follow-up

How to Apply
Two tools of the trade are very important to selling you. The first is your resume. The second is your telephone style .


A resume is something that YOU write about YOU. This is your chance to advertise all the good things about you. Even though there are many ‘professional formats' for resumes, they often ask you to write down information in a way that will limit your chances at a job. Am I suggesting you should lie to get a job? NO. But I am saying that if you write “High School Drop-out” in your “Education” section, no one will read past that.

I am saying – talk about the things you have done, the things you can do, the things you prefer to do and the things you are good at. If you dropped out, quit or were fired, these are things you can discuss in person once you get an interview. By writing them on a resume you are allowing the reader to judge you without a trial.*

(*For example, just imagine if you went to buy a car and there was a big sticker on a beautiful new car saying “40,000 North Americans have died in cars just like this.” That may be the truth, but you wouldn't feel like taking a test drive, right?)

The main things you need on a resume are:

(Put Your Name Here)

Name: (Put your name here again)
Cellphone: (if you have one)
e-mail: (if you have one, you can get a free one on Yahoo or Hotmail or others)

Work Objective: To find a job where I can learn, progress and enjoy working with cars and trucks.

(write what school you went to and what subjects you studied and the ones you liked/were good at. You probably don't need to list junior and elementary school.)

Nellie McClung School, Edmonton

Diploma program - studied Math, Accounting, Automotives, History and Social Studies. Note: I was very good at Automotives and I really liked it .

Work/Volunteer Experience:
(write down what kinds of work, summer jobs or volunteer things you might have done)

Garage helper , Jack's Autobody
During the summer I helped Jack by doing simple work like changing light bulbs, topping up oil and water, checking battery cables, filling gas. References: (Write down Jack's name and phone number at the garage)

Lawn and garden service , Shawnessy Neighbourhood
During the summer myself and my friend worked for our neighbours taking care of their lawns and gardens. References: (write here names of some happy customers)

Volunteer bottle collector on Earth Day for the past 5 years.

Hobbies: Listening to music, reading mechanics magazines, building replica models of cars.

Personal: (for example… I can work hard when doing something like mechanics. I love cars and hope to have my own garage one day. I like working with other people. )

Personal References: (you could list people you have talked to who know you and who are willing to give a reference – family friends who are in business in town, former employers for summer jobs, sport coaches, religious leaders in your community, teachers etc. You only need one or two, but choose people who like you and think you have good potential.)

Notice that we don't talk about being a ‘drop-out' in this resume. We only talk about what you DID. We don't say whether or not you actually finished your diploma course, but we do talk about how much you loved Automotives. The reader also gets the feeling that automotives is something you really love because you talk about it as a summer job and as a hobby…. We get the feeling that the person who owns this resume is passionate or really likes working with cars.

If the resume writer is looking for a job in a car-maintenance place, s/he will probably get an interview.

Modify your resume to suit the kind of job you are looking for. This resume would not be so good for a job in a restaurant as a waiter. You'd have to write more about the ‘service' aspect of the work in the lawn and garden job to make people believe you'd rather work in a restaurant than a garage.

Are you lying if you do that? Nope. You are selling. Most jobs you get as a start-up job will be minimum wage. It is best if you can get a job you love, be loyal to the company and be a great asset to the firm. But at this stage, it is most important that you get a job you can do, a job where you can get some money and some experience, a job that will give you a stepping stone to other things in life.

Sometimes that means you stay with that company and work your way ‘up the ladder' of the company, learning more and more, taking on more responsibility and earning more.

Sometimes it means that you work there for half a year or a year. You learn a lot – and then you look for a more challenging job. Sometimes having that income helps you take a course or go back to school. Sometimes it gives you enough money and time to feed a new family, buy a house, and build a future.

The Cover Letter

When you send a resume, send a covering letter. This is another sales tool. In your letter you can tell them how well suited you are to work in their business. You can say how you will solve their problems. Just like every advertisement tells you why you should buy that product….you can write a letter that tells the potential employer why you are the best choice.

Make it short.
Don't go overboard – less is more.
But be positive, upbeat and enthusiastic.
Let's pretend you want to be a mechanic. Here's the type of thing you could write.

J. Person
Mechanic in Training
(your home address)
(your telephone)
(your cellphone or e-mail)

Company X

ATTN: Jo Do, Personnel

Dear Jo,

RE: Job as Garage Mechanic

Thanks for talking with me yesterday on the phone.

I would like to have a chance to prove myself at your garage. I know I care a lot about cars and would do my best to make sure your customers are happy.

Let me say this – if I was a car owner, I would want someone like me as my mechanic because I would know someone who cared was working on my car.

Thank you for looking at my resume.


J. Person
Apprentice* Mechanic

*Note: You should only use the term apprentice if you are in a real apprenticeship program.

How to Make Effective Phone Calls

The telephone call is your ‘door opener' to the company. You can get valuable information if you do it right and it will help you get that job. You need to keep a list of your calls, and you need to practice your telephone style (see below)

Keep a List

As you go through the newspaper or Yellow Pages, circle the jobs or company names that interest you. Then, as you start to call them, keep track of your calls on a list like the one below. Sometimes people say “The personnel manager is out – call back at 2pm.” So you have to say “What is the personnel manager's name, please?” Then you write his or her name down and with a comment to call back at 2pm. Then call back at 2:15 and ask for the person by name. See? You have already gathered useful information and it helps you keep track of who can hire you.

The list also helps you set goals and keep going. Just think, if you make 10 calls a day, you will be 10 steps closer to getting a job. If you make 30 calls a day, you will probably get a job right away! It's a way to measure progress. And if you find you are always getting negative responses, maybe you need to adjust your telephone style. Practice pretend phone conversations with a friend.

Get a bound notebook or use a looseleaf binder with a table you draw or copy like the one below.

  Company Name, Phone #, Address Date/Time called Name of Person I talked with Personnel Manager's name Call back at Comments

> Phone list for print.

Telephone Style

The most important person in a company is the receptionist. S/he is the person who can help you the most…or completely stop you from talking with anyone else in the company. Whether you are talking with the receptionist on the phone or in person, always be very polite and friendly with her/him. They can't give you the job, but they can give you valuable information about the company or the people who DO hire workers.

“Hi, I'm lookin' for work,” is a terrible opening line. Even though it is true, it only tells the receptionist about what you need – it gives them no reason to feel like they should help you.

TIP: Smile before you dial.

Your voice sounds friendlier. Telephone operators often have a mirror right in front of them as they talk on the phone – it helps remind them to SMILE.

Here's a good example of an effective phone call :

Receptionist: “J. Smith Appliance Repairs. Good morning.”

You: “Hello, my name is Joe Public. How are you?”

Receptionist: “Fine thank you. How can I help you?”

You: “I'd like to speak with the person* in charge of hiring “ (*Note: If you're calling a big company you ask for “Human Resources” or “The Personnel Manager”)

Receptionist: “He's out right now.”

You: “Could you tell me his name and when he'll be in the office? And what is his direct phone line, please?”

Receptionist: “Jack Brown. He'll be back in around 2. His direct line is 5802”

You: “Thank you.” (Write this information down on your list!! “5802” means you dial the first part of the company's number but replace the last part with 5802. She may give you an ‘extension' – that means you dial ALL of the company's number and then dial the extension number when the automatic system ask for it.)

Now before you say goodbye, ask for more information….

You: “Do you know if the company is hiring right now?”

If the receptionist says “Yes”, then ask if you can fax in a resume and ask for their fax number. Write it down on the list.

If the receptionist says “No”, ask if there is seasonal employment coming up. (For instance, she might say “We usually hire more staff just before Christmas.” Write this information down on the list under ‘Comments'.

Even if the receptionist tells you they are not hiring now, you have the personnel manager's name and you know he will be back at 2pm. So at 2:15 call him yourself and tell him about yourself.

You: “Thank you very much…what's your name please? ( Write down her name) Thank you ___ (say her name) . I appreciate your help.”

Here's how the 2:15 call to Jack Brown could go:

You: “Hello, Mr. Jack Brown?”

Jack: “Yes, who is calling?”

You: “My name is Joe Public. I've been working with appliance repairs on my own for a long time and I'm interested in working with your company.” (You're first telling him that you are experienced/interested at some level, and THEN you tell him you'd like to work with him.)

Jack: “What are your qualifications? What's your level of experience?”

You: “Well, I'm capable to doing small repairs by myself but I'm not a qualified electrician. I took electronics in high school and I really liked it. I am looking for entry-level work. I'm a hard worker.”

From this point on, depending on the company's policy and how big they are, “Jack” may say “No, we don't hire unqualified people…” or he might know of a work-experience program that his company can access, in which case he might be interested in hiring an ‘unqualified, but eager' person like you.

As you can see from the pretend conversation above, you have to ‘be prepared' to answer questions about yourself in a positive way. Notice that we never said “I'm a high school drop-out”. We never said “I'm looking for a job” without first telling “Jack” that we could DO something useful!

Jack might say, “We're not hiring now…”

If so, you ask “When do you usually need more people?” ( write down his answer in your notes)

Jack might say, “You're not qualified to work with us.”

So ask him, “What kind of qualifications do you usually look for?” ( write down his answer in your notes)

Jack might say, “Well how do I know you are capable?”

So you can say, “Let me fax you my resume and letter of reference from _______ .” (preferably the letter is from someone in his line of business)

Jack might say, “Call me back in a month. I might have a starting job then.”

So you can say, “Okay. Can I fax you my resume now, in case something comes up in the meantime?” (write down the information to call him in a month + send a resume now)

Then you would send him a personal covering letter, thanking him for the conversation and enclosing a copy of your resume and a letter of reference.

And….it is possible that Jack might be quite rude to you and tell you he's not interested. That will hurt – but try to forget about it. It's nothing personal. Some personnel managers are flooded with calls from people. Sometimes people have bad days.

Be polite anyway. Make a note of the fact that he's a rude person, in case you ever call him back (then you'll be prepared in case he is rude again!).

Notice how throughout the conversation, ‘you' always ask for more information or you come up with a positive response? That's the difference between getting a job or just hanging up the phone. Too often, people phone a company and say “Hi, I need a job.” The receptionist says “We're not hiring.” And that's it. They make no personal connection, they have no more information about the people in the company who CAN hire them, and they don't even get their foot in the door by sending a resume.

Job opportunities often change overnight. Try to get your resume to the company anyway.

True story. Once I applied at a ladies clothing store. They confidently told me NONE of their staff had changed in the past 26 years. I asked if I could leave them my resume anyway and they said “Okay.”

A week later they phoned to say a staff member had broken a leg and could I come in right away! They only did that because I was the only person who had pushed to leave my resume with them ‘anyway'. This showed them I was eager to work there. It also helped them find an immediate solution a week later!

There are various books on how to be more effective on the telephone – read them. It will make a world of difference in your job-hunt.

Telemarketers use a prepared script. You can also write a little script about yourself and your goals and refer to it as you talk on the phone. It will help.

Remember to Follow-up

Since you have made a list of all your calls, and you've made notes about when people will be in the office or when people are hiring - remember to follow-up!  If the manager will be back at 2 pm - call him or her at 2:10 (give them a minute or two to get back to work).  If they aren't in at 2:10, call them at 2:30. 

If they have voice mail, you can leave a message: "Hi, this is _____.  I'm calling about working with your company.  My phone number is __________  and I'll be here until about ___pm.  If I don't hear from you today, I'll try phoning you tomorrow morning."

If you have already faxed a resume, say so.  "I faxed a copy of my resume to your receptionist.  Looking forward to hearing from you." If you leave a message in their voice mail, there's no need to call them back over and over that day.  That will be annoying.  But if they don't call you back, you can call them once a day, or every couple of days, over the next week until you talk with them.

You can also ask the receptionist for help.  Call her (by name!) and say " Hi _____, I talked with you the other day about work and I've been trying to get hold of Jack Brown for the last couple of days.  I haven't been able to get him.  Do you know when is the best time to call him?"

She might say "Oh he's been out of town..."

or "We're very busy right now..."

or "Oh yes, he asked me to tell you we have no positions right now, but keep in touch...

or "The best time to get him is about 6:30 in the morning when there's no one else in the office."

All these answers are okay.  Then you know he is not 'avoiding you' (which is the feeling people often get when they are job hunting).  The first two answers mean that you should keep trying.  The second answer lets you know you'll have to call back in a couple of months.  The last answer tells you exactly when you should call.  So set that alarm clock for six, have your coffee or tea and call him the next morning! Many people never get the job because they never call back.  If the company has 6 people they are considering, they will remember YOU more if you are the 'squeaky wheel'.  (Remember the saying "The squeaky wheel gets the grease?")  You need to show people you DO want to work by following-up and keeping in touch.  Do it in a nice, polite way.  Don't be a abusive or demanding of a job. Instead show that you are willing and eager and looking for opportunities.

One girl I counselled really wanted to work in broadcasting. I told her to apply, even though she didn't have the background. I suggested she try to talk with someone there to strike up a 'relationship' by phone.  She did that, and kept phoning them back in a friendly way about once a month.  In the meantime she worked at a job she didn't like much, but it made her money.  After about a year , the broadcasting company suddenly had an opening...and guess who they hired!  She went on to make it a successful career.  Now THAT's follow-up!

Doing a Regular Job is O.K. – In fact, it is Great!
We live in a society that worships stars and entertainers. But to me the real stars are the people who do the so-called simple jobs that never get much attention. Just think what is more important – if the doctors go on strike….or if the garbagemen go on strike? What do you notice first?
The garbagemen's strike.
But who ever notices them?

Sad to say but there is an ARMY of good, decent people doing ‘regular' jobs, day after day, and they are the ones who make our world go round. Most of them are high school dropouts. Some of them are college or university dropouts who said to themselves “I want to have a family and a ‘life' outside of work. I have chosen work that is basic and it doesn't pay a lot. But it is steady, I like the people, and I do have a life of my own that I am proud of. And I don't need a degree to prove my worth - I see it in my customer's faces every day.”

Am I saying higher education is bad? No way. Education is GREAT. I love learning and hope everyone will keep learning something their entire life. But I sure am saying that not everyone is cut out to be a professor or business executive. And that is OK. Everyone in the world has a place. A person's value is not found in the certificate on the wall…it's in their heart and hands!

The world has a desperate need for people who are willing to DO….not just to learn or to think. Dropouts are usually very good at doing things . That's something to be very proud of, and it is a skill that the world needs. Yes. We need you.

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