Researching companies via the telephone.

It is an excellent idea to obtain information on the organization you would like to work for, before you send them your resume. It is a good opportunity to make a personal connection with the organization that might lead to an interview. Telephone calls are also good for creating human contact that is often rare in the modern world. Through just one phone call you can convey your determination and personality that otherwise might not have been conveyed in an application form and cover letter.

Using the Card SystemAfter compiling a list of potential employers, it is advisable to use the Card System to call potential employers to collect information. Compile the information you gather on large recipe cards in an easy-to-read layout.

Information should be collected on three areas:

1. Your employers at the target organization
It is essential to note names and job titles of everyone you speak to, including those of support staff. Ask for the details and note them at the start of each conversation. Make notes about the conversation that will remind them specifically of you at a later time. Using your notes you will be able to impress people by remembering personal details. Even though you might be in contact often, remember to treat each contact professionally.

2. Key terminology
As each organization has their own technical and managerial terms, it is essential to note these so you can use them in your cover letter, resume, interview and future phone conversations.

The two key types of words to keep in mind are:

  • Skill identification words
    It is important to use words that identify your skills in the same style as your target organization. By understanding and using these terms, candidates will have an advantage over other candidates who are also well-qualified but do not have the 'right fit' in the organization.
  • Specific in-house words
    These are usually words that describe programs, job positions, departments and processes that are used within the organization. Different organizations will use terms like program officer, field representative and country representative for the same position. It is imperative to use the right terminology with each organization to avoid confusion and to exhibit your knowledge of and adaptability to their culture.

3. Follow-up and reminders
Using the card system will let you keep your follow-up calls organized and convey your continued interest in the organization. Calling an employer every two-three months is an accepted practice and the card system will help you organize these time schedules. Remember to remind the person you speak to about your previous conversation and to inquire about when it would be advisable to call next and note these details on your card.

Bear in mind, it is easier to impress employers when one makes an effort to make personal contact using the phone instead of only relying on impersonal technology such as email.