When I cold call a hiring manager for the first time, what exactly is the best thing for me to say after they answer?

I've been a contract software engineer for 25 years. Times are always changing.

I used to say: "Hello, I'm , a software engineering contractor, and I'm calling to offer my services."

But lately this is often interpreted to mean that I'm a job shop offering the service of providing contractors.

I'm mainly looking in the Silicon Valley area. Hiring managers are 95% of the time friendly.

It's 2017. What should I say?

specifically: Should I say I'm a "freelance software engineer" or a "contract software engineer"? Is "freelance" a thing these days?

"Hi, I'm a software engineer, who works on a contract basis, and I'm calling to offer my services."

You've got "contractor" in a poor location. A "contractor" is someone that hires others to do the work. i.e. "General Contractor", "Talent Contractor", "Plumbing Contractor". So, it stands to reason people hearing "Software Engineer Contractor" assume you hire software engineers.

  • 1
    Agreed. I'm changing my stuff to "Freelance Software Engineer". How's that sound. – Doug Null Mar 2 '17 at 18:45
  • Better :) ( random extra text so comment submits) – Scott Mar 2 '17 at 22:24

I try to keep things quick, to the point, and professional - saves everyone time. I've never written down a script since each project/company can vary a lot, but something along the lines of:

"Hi, my name is {name}, I'm an experienced software freelancer, and I see your company does/needs {thing}, which I have {experience/interest} in. I just wanted to call to see if discussing {potential project} might be mutually beneficial. Do you have a couple minutes to talk?"

I feel like this approach generally works for the person on the other end, because you:

  1. Act like a person and treat them the same, not like a sales rep hunting a lead-generation bonus
    • Acknowledge (briefly) that you don't have an existing relationship
    • Don't demand a lot of time, or that they concede to a follow up be ending with "when can I call you back?"
    • They've probably read the same books on pushy sales techniques that you have, and no one likes feeling manipulated by being on the receiving end of a pushy approach
  2. Show you've made an effort to understand them specifically
    • Mention that you've done your homework/research on the company and its (and by extension, the callee's) needs
    • State (or at least imply) that you believe you can help them
    • You are reaching out to them specifically, not just running through a cold-call list
    • State that you have experience with the tools needed to solve their problems
  3. Establish the sort of relationship you want to have
    • You are someone who takes initiative
    • You want to focus on how you can help them, but aren't going to work for free
    • You respect their time by being brief, and their authority in their job by not being pushy
    • Imply that you want a partnership as an outside resource, and are not interested in being a direct hire

{TheirName}

You and I haven't spoken before but my name is {YourName}, i understand that you're the {TheirRole}, is that correct?

{Silence until they respond}

Great, the reason for my call today is that I've been following {TheirCompany} for a while and it looks like you're a bit short staffed on engineers, is that right?

{Silence until they respond}

Cool, I've worked for the past {NumYears} at companies like {Company1}, {Company2} and {Company3} as a {WhateverYourRole}.

When is a good time for you to set aside 15-20 minutes next week to talk through if my background is a good fit?"

{Stop talking}

  • This sounds exactly like a headhunter script - I'd hang up by the 2nd pause. – brichins Sep 5 '17 at 21:06

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