“I can’t pick up the phone to call about a job.” by Dr.John Manni, Psychologist
August 22, 2011 by John Manni & Doug Barton
Many of my unemployed clients tell me that even when someone gives them a referral, they struggle to call for an appointment. For them, the telephone weighs 500 pounds. I hear comments like, “I get a lump in my throat,” “It seems like my heart is going to jump through my chest,” “I feel like I’m running out of breath,” “I’m afraid I’m going to say something stupid.” Sound familiar? What makes calling strangers so tough? What can we do about it?
We are all built with an internal signal system that begins to prepare us for danger; namely anxiety. As anxiety and fear intensifies, we can begin to experience physical symptoms like shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and/or sweating. At work is the signal system that triggers the “fight or flight” response. If we truly faced danger we could respond with a stronger and faster response. Unfortunately, anxiety can arise when there is no real danger. If you are becoming anxious before calling perspective employers, your signal system is alerting you to the potential for danger but it is a false alarm. Start by recognizing that the anxiety you feel is a false alarm. If you stop to think about it, there is no physical threat. I suggest you ask yourself, “What is the worse that can happen”? Do you really think the person will be mean or just hang up? If they are rude, it is on them. I would bet the individual you are calling will be courteous and, if in their power, helpful.
The best approach is practice, practice, practice. Develop some openings sentences like, “I’m interested in the position you advertised and would like to tell you how I can help your company,” or “I’m a good friend of Jane Doe, who works in such-and-such department, and she thinks I’d be a great fit with your company.”
Be sure to say something positive about yourself without bragging. Avoid big words. Sound upbeat, confident, and conversational, but not bubbly. Make your opening comment brief and simple. Sample your opening statement with your spouse or a friend. Remind yourself that any feelings of anxiety are really a false alarm. You have nothing to lose, and maybe, just one of those many calls will pay off.