The Cold Call that Worked: A Hiring Parable

Small business owners, General Managers, and entrepreneurs: can I get an amen when I say that hiring is hard?

If you’re like me, you:

  1.       Don’t have an HR department,
  2.       Do have a hand in every aspect of daily operation, and
  3.       Spend your days in a blur of constant activity.

Even when I know that recruiting additional team members would be hugely beneficial, and would ultimately free up my schedule, it’s hard to put down the things I’m juggling long enough to embark on the hiring process. And it is a process: I typically start by posting the job on Facebook or ZipRecruiter, collecting applications, completing phone screens, proceeding to the interview process, and narrowing down to my ideal candidate. It’s time consuming and, at times, discouraging.

Occasionally, I will receive cold calls from folks wanting to work at Kaser. I typically take these with a grain of salt – I most likely can’t drop everything and complete an on-the-spot phone screen with every person who calls, and even if I have every intention of returning the call, it’s likely to get buried under a pile of other tasks. Most people give up at that point and I don’t hear from them again.

Recently, however, one of those cold calls got through.

It didn’t work the first time – he called at an inopportune moment and I forgot to return; but the second time he called, I was able to ask some questions. I liked his answers so much, I set up an interview. He arrived ten minutes early and well-dressed. (While our industry by no means requires a suit and tie at an interview, clean jeans and a nice shirt do go a long way toward making a positive impression.) We completed the interview, and next thing I knew, he was joining our team.

Had he stopped trying after his first call, we likely never would have reached this point. I’m grateful for his persistence, because I wound up hiring a qualified team member without having to spend hours combing through candidates on the internet.

Having rarely been involved in the hiring process as an applicant, I am only familiar with it from the perspective of the recruiter. I imagine that as an applicant, the idea of cold calling might be off-putting.

But I can tell you from the perspective of someone who does a fair amount of hiring: for a small local business in our industry in the Midwest, sometimes, when the stars align, the cold call does work. It just requires some persistence.

The moral of this story is that if you’re cold-calling a small business for a job and you don’t hear back right away, give it another try (or possibly two), and please show patience with the manager. The same rules apply to email – just because you don’t hear back right away doesn’t mean that you should stop trying altogether.

Don’t fear the cold call. 

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