Call companies but avoid the secretary

Call companies but avoid the secretary

In the book “How to find a job in 30 days”, I wrote a chapter about how you should telephone companies to introduce yourself.

This article complements the text of that chapter.

Take a look at this video:

After you have sent in your application, you will need to speak to the recruiter on the phone.

Unless you get hold of their mobile phone number, your efforts may come to a grinding halt when the person on the other end of the phone politely asks:

– “Who is calling, please?” or “Certainly, sir, and what is the nature of your call?”

Those of you with little experience in these matters will answer both questions with innocent sincerity, not realising that 99% of the time they are merely a tool to block calls from salesmen trying to sell subscriptions or asking for a meeting to present their latest products. Job applicants are seen in the same light, so you will be setting yourself up to be shot down before you manage to speak to anyone.

In the first few years of my career in environmental consultancy, I seldom did well at making phone calls. Even after buttering up the secretary on the phone, I was put on hold for a while until the sweet lady came back on the phone with something along theses lines:

– “Hello, Pedro, I’m afraid Mr. Green is taking another call at the moment (or he’s in a meeting!). Can you call back later, please?”

– “Fine,” I would say, “I’ll do that. Thank you.”

How to avoid the secretary on the phone - job 30 days

The brutal truth is that all secretaries are under strict instructions to get rid of everybody like this, because they know, or they are taught, that most people won’t call back once they have been turned away.

However, if you really want that job, you are going to have to find a way to get round the barrier!

Having felt frustrated on numerous occasions, as I realised the PA’s of the clients I wanted to speak to were so well trained that the message never got through that I had called, I did the following Google search: “How to get past secretaries + commercial presentations?”

Or something like that…

But nothing gave me solution to my problem.

That was when I realised that what I had to do was try to give the secretary the impression that the person I wanted to talk to was actually expecting my call. You must be wondering how on earth you do that if the person you are trying speak has never even heard of you!

I’m going to give you the strategy that I developed for avoiding secretaries on the phone. I’ll write out the conversation I had the first time I tried the technique. Hopefully, it will inspire you to do something similar when you are making follow up calls after sending in your application.

About a week before making the call, I sent an email to introduce my company, NOCTULA to a new customer. I finished my email with the words I mentioned earlier:

“I will call next week to talk about this.”

The following week, I called the potential client (let’s call him Dr. Robert White), and, as expected the secretary politely answered the phone:

– “Good morning, I’d like to speak to Robert White, please.” I said, using my most confident sounding voice.


Note I used his first name and no titles. This immediately makes the secretary lower her guard, as she will probably think I’m someone who knows Mr. White fairly well.

– “Who is calling?” she asked politely, getting ready to put up the salesman barrier.

– “It’s Pedro Silva-Santos from NOCTULA,” I replied confidently.

Alarm bells must have started going off at this point as the secretary threw in a trick question:

– “May I ask what the purpose of your call is?

Without hesitation, and sounding as cool as a cucumber, I said:

– “Robert is expecting my call.

Seconds later, Dr. Robert White was on the phone, sounding quite put out:

– “Yes!?

– “Dr. White, good morning. It’s Pedro Silva-Santos from NOCTULA. As I said in my email, I’m calling about your new project.

“Oh, right, yes, ….I see…” answered the good Dr. White, the confusion in his voice clearly showing he had no idea who I was and that he hadn’t even read my email, or at least he had merely skimmed over it!

“As I said in my email…” and I went on with my presentation.

As a result a few days later we actually received our first request for a proposal from this client. Our business relationship grew over the years and is now an excellent working relationship!

I have adapted and perfected this technique over the years and the success rate for getting past the secretary barrier is incredibly high. But, I hear you asking… do I not run the risk of being called a liar?

No.I didn’t lie to the secretary when I said Robert was expecting my call. Remember, I had already told him I would call in my email:

“I will call next week to talk about this.”

It’s not my fault if he didn’t read it!

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