You're scrolling through your favourite job board looking for your next contract, when you come across the perfect opportunity. The requirements mirror your skillset, you have plenty of experience in that industry and it's scheduled to start right when your current contract is ending. But, as you double-check who posted it, this job is through a staffing agency you've never heard of before. After confirming with the recruiters who you know at other agencies, it's certain, this job is only available through an unknown recruitment agency. How can you still guarantee a good shot at it?
Don't Hesitate -- Apply to the Job
If there's any chance you might want to work on this contract (and you know you're qualified), then apply to it. The recruiting world moves quickly and jobs close within days, sometimes hours, so you want your name in front of the recruiter as soon as possible. That being said, check the date the job was posted. If it's been up for a couple weeks, it can either mean that the job has been filled OR the recruiter is struggling to fill it and you're going to be their saviour. Either way, it's good intelligence for the upcoming steps. Also look carefully through the posting to see if there's any reference to an individual recruiter who's working on the role or direct contract information to learn more about the job. Finally, take note of the Job ID and the exact job title. These will be important for referencing the job in your upcoming conversation with the recruiter.
Do Some Research
Make no mistake, your upcoming conversation with the recruiter is going to be a sales call for your business, so prepare as any good sales person would before making a cold call. One of the first steps a sales professional will go through is researching the prospect. Start by looking up the staffing agency. Check out their website, online reviews (ex. Google, Indeed, Glassdoor) and LinkedIn. Does this appear to bean organization who you want to do business with? Check if they appear to be ethical, if other contractors are satisfied with them, and whether they have many similar opportunities or if this job is a one-off. Next, look-up a few of their recruiters on LinkedIn. If you have a name related to this specific job, even better, but if not, just find two or three who might be working on this job. Look for contact information, see if you have similar contacts in your network, and learn a couple tidbits of information about them. Finally, conduct a few informal references. Although there are hundreds of recruitment agencies, the industry is still fairly close-knit. Between other recruiters and IT contractors in your network, somebody is sure to have worked with this recruitment agency before. Find out who and ask about their experience. Even better, see if somebody can give you an introduction to a recruiter.
Make that Cold Call
Now that you've applied to the job and armed yourself with the right information, it's time to make that phone call, even if you still don't know who you're calling. Here are a few tips for a successful cold call with a recruiter:
Be prepared to speak with a receptionist first. If you don't have a contact name, have the Job ID and job title ready so they can connect you with the right person.
Get the recruiter's contact info. Before the receptionist transfers you, confirm the name, extension and email address of the recruiter they're about to send you to. If they don't answer their phone, you can now follow-up with them directly.
Provide a quick introduction. Grab the recruiter's attention by telling them a bit about yourself, and more importantly, how you will help them. Tell them quickly which job you're interested in, that you've applied, and why you qualify. There's a chance the recruiter hasn't even looked at applications yet because they started talking with professionals in their own network. You need to make sure they know that you're the best option.
Be prepared for an interview. The recruiter might want to learn more about you right away, so make sure you're ready for a phone interview if it turns into that.
Or be prepared to schedule a follow-up call. In other cases, the recruiter will want to schedule a follow-up call for when they have more time to chat.
Remember the Job might already be filled. If the recruiter brushes you off, telling you the job is already closed, don't end the call quite yet. Dig for information about similar jobs in the future and how you can be considered right away. Make sure the recruiter knows who you are and the skills you possess.
Send a follow-up email. Finally, regardless of the outcome of the call, send a follow-up email, including your resume and contact information. Especially if you have a good feeling about this recruiter and staffing agency, you'll want to keep this relationship growing.
Everybody needs to cold call a new recruiter sometimes, whether you're starting your career and trying to build a name for yourself in the IT contracting world or you're an experienced professional who needs to start working with a new staffing agency. Hopefully these tips will help you get there quickly and effectively, easily landing you that job and a new relationship for future IT contract opportunities.