While hunting for a job on Bay Street, you may find yourself in a position where you want to talk with Bay Street professionals. This can be a great idea—speaking to professionals (e.g. bankers, consultants, lawyers, accountants) can give you a better understanding of different types of work and workplace cultures.
If you don’t have personal connections to any business people on Bay Street (or connections to people in an area of work that interests you), you may have trouble setting up these conversations. Don’t let this hold you back. Bay Street professionals are more than happy to speak with students they don’t know as part of the general recruitment and hiring process.
The best way to set up a conversation with a Bay Street professional that you don’t know is to send them a cold email. Cold emails are like cold calls, but less intrusive. Cold emails give the recipient the option to reply on their own time, whereas cold calls are an unwelcomed surprise in a lawyer’s busy day.
You should avoid cold calling Bay Street professionals. Most cold call recipients don’t have the time to engage with a surprise caller at the time of that call, even if the recipient is generally receptive to talking with prospective hires. Re-booking a phone call tends to be frustrating, and often the parties are left playing phone tag. It is much easier to first reach out by email and use that to schedule a call.
Keep in mind, however, that some “old school” business people might prefer a cold call over a cold email. To them, a phone call is a more personal touch than an email. If you choose to cold call business people, then there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
How to Cold Call Bay Street
1. Call the Right Person
If you decide to cold call someone on Bay Street as part of your recruitment strategy, do not call their direct numbers. Call the their business’s general reception number instead. This way, a receptionist can handle your call and the person you want to speak with is not unexpectedly interrupted.
When the receptionist answers your call, kindly inform them who you are and briefly state your request.
If you cold call a large business, the receptionist will likely transfer your call to the talent management / human resources department. You may then have the opportunity to speak with the business’s student coordinator or recruiter. If you want to speak to a business person, then you may have to ask the talent management / human resources representative to introduce you to someone in an area that interests you.
If you cold call a smaller business, a receptionist is likely to record your contact details and then end the call. It is unlikely that your cold call will be immediately transferred to a business person. The receptionist will then pass along your contact details and you may receive a return call at a later time.
If a business doesn’t return your cold call, don’t take it personally. Bay Street professionals have a lot on their plate at any given time. You could follow-up, but generally this won’t change the outcome. Don’t follow-up more than once.
2. Call at the Right Time
Make your cold calls mid-day or mid-afternoon, when the receptionist you call might have more free time. Do not call first thing in the morning when the firm is getting ready for the day, or at the end of the day when the business is preparing to close.
3. Know What to Say
You should have a short script ready for when a business’s receptionist answers your call.
You should start the call by briefly introducing yourself. Next, ask the receptionist to put you in touch with a business person at their firm who could provide you advice on the recruitment process, the nature of their work, and the business’s culture.
If you have a specific business person in mind, you can request to speak with this person. Be willing, however, to speak with someone else if your first choice isn’t available.
It is highly unlikely that a firm’s receptionist will immediately connect you to an available business person. Rather, you will likely have to schedule a subsequent call a few days or weeks after your cold call.
When speaking with the receptionist, do not bluntly ask whether the business is hiring. This is a simple yes/no question. You should instead focus on networking and connecting with other people. This will help you develop a rapport with the business and could lead to a job down the road.
As mentioned above, it isn’t recommended that you make cold calls on Bay Street. That said, there are some limited use cases for cold calling. Use you judgment when deciding whether to cold call a business as part of their recruitment process. If you follow through with cold calls, make sure you call the right person, call at the right time, and know what to say.