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Telephone Skills

Planning your career involves making decisions that are right for you. This includes: · Being ready and taking responsibility for your own career planning; · Knowing how to make career decisions; · Knowing about yourself, what you want and what you can bring to a career; · Finding out about the career you're interested in. When you are happy with your decision ­ you will need to put it into action: this leaflet will help you do that. Your first contact with an employer may be on a telephone. Telephone interviewing is becoming more popular in the UK as a way of screening people at the first stage of the recruitment process; for instance when there are large numbers of applicants or if a large part of the job will involve talking to people on the telephone eg contact centre or sales work.

Before You Telephone - use the checklist below

· First impressions are critical. You need to do as much preparation as you would for a face-to-face interview. Remember, this could be an informal part of the screening/selection process. · The majority of companies will allocate a specific time for the interview. Make sure you are available at that time. However, be prepared - some employers may contact you without prior warning. · Make a note of questions you want to ask. · Have a copy of your CV to help you answer questions. (See our leaflets on CVs). · Be clear about your top six selling points for this job, so that you can confidently and easily talk about them. · Keep a pen and paper handy to take notes. · Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. · Have a glass of water beside you if possible. · Be prepared to leave a message on an answering machine or voice mail. Leave your name, address and phone number. Talk slowly and clearly.

During the call

· · · · · · Keep calm. Take a deep breath (and perhaps have a drink of water before you start). Be polite and smile! This can help your confidence and you will sound friendly. Don't slouch - good posture will improve your breathing. Speak slowly and clearly in your normal voice. Don't do other things while you are on the phone. The other person will be aware of this. Don't be put off if the person you need to speak to is not available. Ask when it is convenient to phone back. · Say more than yes or no to questions. Give facts or examples but don't ramble. · Ask the person to repeat something if you are unsure what has been said. · Ask if you can meet with the interviewer to give them more details on how your skills can contribute to the needs of the company.

Telephoning about an advertised vacancy

Make some notes before you phone and keep details of the vacancy in front of you. The name of the person you want to speak to? (if you don't know ­ ask reception who the manager of the department is)

The title of the job (and the reference number if there is one).

Where and when you saw the job advertised

Your top 3­6 unique selling points for the job. (The reasons why the employer should be interested in you!)

Any other questions you still have

What will happen next may vary. An employer will take your details and either offer to send you an application form, arrange an interview or ask you to forward your CV. Be prepared to answer any questions about your relevant qualifications and experience. Make a note of the date, time, place and the name of the person you will see if you are offered an interview. (Read this back to the employer to make sure you have written it correctly.)

Make a note of any directions you need to get there.

Sometimes you have to apply for a vacancy by phone. This usually takes a few minutes. By doing this, the employer can: · Hear how you sound; · Ask you a few questions; · Decide whether to offer you an interview. Use the list on the first page to help you prepare. Occasionally, an employer will want a more detailed interview on the phone. If this is the case, the interview will take much longer and you would normally be sent out information in advance. This is an important part of applying for the job and if you are offered this type of interview, you may want to talk to your careers adviser to find out more.

Speculative calls

Identifying employers: · Ask your careers adviser; · Speak to family and friends to see if they have any ideas or know of any opportunities; · Look in the Yellow Pages for more addresses; · Check local newspapers for recruitment pages; · Look on the internet.

Making speculative calls

These are likely to be more successful if they are used as a follow-up to a speculative letter or CV. This immediately gives the call a purpose and direction. Look back at the section `Before You Telephone' and use the tips given there to prepare for the call. · Tell them why you are calling · Highlight your top three selling points · Ask if they can use someone with your skills You may get various responses to your questions. · If the person you need to speak to is not available, ask when you should call back. You could also offer to send in your CV. · If there is a vacancy, be ready to give details and ask about applying. · If they expect to have a vacancy soon, ask when you should contact them again or when you should forward your details to them. · If there are no vacancies ask if they can suggest another employer who may be recruiting locally. Remember to end the conversation politely. For example, "Thank you for your time".

After the call

At the end of any telephone call you should: · Thank the person you have been speaking to; · Think about how the call went. Were you as well prepared as you could have been? Would you do anything differently next time?; · Write down what you were asked and how you answered the questions; · Make a note of any points to remember; · Keep a copy of your CV and copies of any application forms you have been asked to send an employer in a safe place.

It is also helpful to keep a note of which employers you have contacted and any responses you receive. Date of telephone call Name and Number Job Response

Keep in touch with your Careers Scotland Centre. Ask for our other leaflets - such as Interviews, CVs, Application Forms, Writing to Employers, Telephone Skills and Selection Tests.

If you require this publication in an alternative format and/or language please contact the Scottish Enterprise Helpline on 0845 607 8787 to discuss your needs. Please visit our website

or call us on

0845 8 502 502 (local call rates)




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