Making Contact Calls

Hands down, the toughest part of the job search process for me was making contact calls (calling friends, relatives and acquaintances to ask them for any information/references they might have to help me get a job).

In my case – this may also be true for you – I was calling people I either didn’t know well or hadn’t been in touch with in years. And yet, I knew if I wanted my dream job (at that point, it was television directing), I had to make these calls.

Here’s an excerpt from How Did You Get That Job? about the worst phone call of all:

Over the course of several weeks, I managed to speak with several directors. Two of them, Gregory Lehane and Casey Childs, had been classmates of mine at Carnegie Mellon.

Casey and Gregory were encouraging, gave me great insight and advice, and we had a good time chatting together.

But one call I made to a former classmate didn’t go so well. He was nervous on the phone and kept insisting he had nothing to tell me – not one thing that could help me. He wouldn’t even meet with me for 15 minutes.

I was devastated by that call. It didn’t matter that other friends had been happy to talk to me – had been open and forthcoming about their experiences.

What I obsessed over was this one guy who had said “No.”

In hindsight, that “no” wasn’t even a blip in my career. It had no effect whatsoever on the outcome of my dream job search.

But at the time, it threw me. Made me think about quitting. Made me second-guess myself. Made me waste time — because I let it.

Now, it’s been 26 years since I made that phone call. I became an accomplished director, have won awards for writing – succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. And a great deal of my success came because I happened to work with a very bright Executive Producer named Christopher Goutman.

Do you know who was on the other end of that phone 26 years ago? The person whose casual comment discouraged me so much I almost quit?!?


That’s right. Christopher Goutman.

I’m sure Chris doesn’t remember that phone call – I haven’t mentioned it to him since our paths reconnected 12 years ago. Eleven years ago, he became my boss at As the World Turns. In those years, he’s promoted me, told me not to worry about my job as I struggled through chemo, and is hugely responsible for the statuettes on my mantel.

And, by the way, when I reached out to people for interviews on this site, Chris didn’t hesitate in saying “yes.” Irony?

Proof.

Proof, my job-searching friend, that it’s silly to even THINK of letting one “no” stop you! Nor can you let fear about what people might say to you, or judgments they might make about you, get in your way.

You have work to do, great things to achieve – that’s why this dream was put in your heart. Go for it, and don’t let anything or anyone keep you from doing what is yours to do.

Years from now, I don’t want you to be where I could have been: Angry and bitter, always wondering what would have happened if I’d really gone after my dream job.

Instead, I want you to be where I am: Happy, fulfilled, and proud of what I’ve accomplished.

Make those calls. Be thankful for every willing guide you find along the way. And the not-so-willing ones? Not even a blip, my friend. Not even a blip.

About Susan Dansby

Susan Dansby has received four Emmy® Awards and two Writers Guild Awards for her work on the soap opera, AS THE WORLD TURNS. She is the author of HOW DID YOU GET THAT JOB? MY DREAM JOBS AND HOW THEY CAME TRUE.
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