Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Cold Calling Hell

For the last three months or so, I've been pretty much forced to take on a project at my part time job that involves what is basically cold calling. It's not sales, but it may as well be. I follow up mailshots on grants to see if the company qualifies and is vaguely interested. Although some people are fine, I've had enough difficult calls to really make me stressed. As in guys calling me "sweetheart" or being spoken to like dirt by someone's PA. It's gotten to the point where I will do anything - ANYTHING - to put off picking up the phone. Just thinking about it now makes my stomach churn. The worst part is that when I took the job, the spec actually had "no phone work" on it. But when I was asked to take it on, I felt obliged to say yes since I was pretty new. A month in, I asked for a meeting and tried to explain that it was stressing me out. I got sympathetic nods and an offer of extra support, but when I brought up the fact that my job spec actually said "no phone work" they conveniently ignored that part of the conversation. It didn't help when another manager freaked when he found out I was having to do the calls, and told me in no uncertain terms that he thought they were passing the buck.

Today, I did some web research on cold calling psychology but all I could find were horrible sales websites or people trying to flog their book on the subject. It seems to be described as an irrational fear that should be overcome. Hello, what about people who just aren't good at it? I mean, there's a reason I never took on a call centre job. It was bad enough when I had to try to sell sponsorship packages for a BBC awards ceremony at my last job, but this could go on for months.

I don't know what to do. It's probably not very cool to refuse to do work, but I feel like saying "Look...I've tried, but it's still causing me a great deal of stress. Give me anything to do, I don't care. I'll type 'til I'm blue in the face and book travel until the cows come home, but please don't make me do these calls anymore." Should I put my foot down about the job spec again? Should I call the agency who found me the job and have them intervene? After all, they did tell me to let them know if there was ever a problem - but six months later might not be what they had in mind. There's the other problem that I made a verbal commitment of a year, but that was before this came along. If I were apply for another job and get it (which is what I feel like doing at the moment) and was honest about my reasons, I'm worried about my reference. If it came to it, would it look awful if I just had a six month gap on my CV? I could always say I was a student I guess...

And how do I keep landing in these weird situations? Sheesh. All I wanted was a basic part-time admin job to go along with my studies. I guess it just goes to show that nothing is ever simple, no matter how hard you try.


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