Most positions are never advertised. A cold cover letter is an uninvited inquiry to an employer, recruiter or other hiring manager regarding possible job opportunities.
Cold cover letters' potential advantages include creating a job that didn't previously exist, gaining early consideration for a position that hasn't yet been advertised and expanding your network of contacts. By sending a letter to an employer who's not soliciting candidates, your resume will not be buried in a pile of hundreds of others.
- Heather secured a marketing director position after sending a cold cover letter. She read about the company's expansion goals in a trade magazine and sent a letter that outlined how she would help the company achieve its objectives. The company was impressed by Heather's enthusiasm, knowledge of the company's mission and ideas for successful expansion.
- Stuart compiled a list of his dream companies and contacted them directly. His letter arrived at the right time at one of the companies -- a network engineer had just given her notice and a position became available. The company benefited from hiring Stuart and saving on recruitment costs.
- Mark is a salesperson with a passion for sporting goods. His favorite retailer did not have a presence in his local market, so Mark sent a cover letter outlining how he would establish a local presence. After reading the letter, the company flew Mark in for an interview and hired him on the spot.
- Know Yourself: You are contacting a company that hasn't asked to be contacted. So what do you offer? Why should the company take an interest in you? What skills, abilities and credentials would be desirable to the organization?
- Research the Employer: Find out as much as you can about your target company, including past performance, goals and competitors so you can knowledgeably write about how you would help the operation.
- The Salutation: Since you are writing an unsolicited letter, it's crucial that you address a particular person. Do some research so you can get your resume in the hands of the manager most likely to be interested in hiring you.
- The Opener: You can use a number of different techniques to open your letter. Here are two examples:
The Value Proposition:If you have identified goal-surpassing revenue and market-share growth among your goals for this year, my credentials will be of interest. Allow me to introduce myself: A marketing executive with 15 years of experience within Fortune 500 environments...
The News Angle:After reading of your consulting-services expansion in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, I am eager to join your team as an accounting manager. You will benefit from my top credentials, including CPA with Big Four experience and multilingual fluency (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian)...
- The Body: Summarize the key strengths you bring to the table. A great strategy is to include a bulleted list of achievements and qualifications that would benefit the company. Provide an overview of your main selling points and examples of how you have contributed to your current or former employers.
- The Close: End your letter with an action statement, promising to follow up to explore the possibility of an interview. This is a much stronger closing than, "I hope to hear from you soon."
Learn How to Write Cold Contact Cover Letters
Find out What to Include and See Examples
A cold contact cover letter is a document sent with your resume to companies that have not advertised job openings. Sending this letter provides you with an opportunity to be considered by the company for employment. Because writing this type of letter takes time, it's a good idea to only send cold contact cover letters to companies that you are very interested in working for.
What Information You Should Include in the Letter
As with an ordinary cover letter, your goal is to get the company's attention and show that you're a great candidate.
Writing a cold contact cover letter is much harder, however, since you cannot base your pitch off of the information provided in the job description.
In your letter, convey your interest in the organization, identify your most relevant skills and experience, and explain what you would offer the organization. Particularly since you're sending unsolicited correspondence, you should have a strong pitch or thesis statement for why you're worth considering.
For instance, you might say, "From the awards your company has received, it's clear that you make the very best of Widget X. However, the directions on how to assemble Widget X aren't as praised. That's where I can help: As an award-winning technical writer, I excel at explaining complex things in clear, simple language." Here are the basic elements you'll want to include in your cold contact cover letter:
A Good Hook
Start with a strong subject line — this will help ensure that the recipient will open the email, despite not recognizing the sender.
You can try aggressive subject lines like "Why you need a better event planner" or "Increase your sales 10%." Or, try more subtle approaches, such as "Quick request — marketing positions" or "Experienced marketer interested in company X." If you know someone in common, include the person's name in the subject line.
As well, you'll want to have an attention-getting first sentence that conveys both what you want (a job; an informational interview) and what you can offer.
What You Would Offer
Be clear about why you'd be an asset. This is where research comes in: You want to connect the company's needs and goals with your skills and abilities. Show how you're well-suited to help the company achieve its mission, whether that's selling more widgets or making on-time deliveries.
If You're Connected, Mention It
If you have a connection that you can mention, make sure to include that information in the first few sentences of the letter. (Always check beforehand to make sure the connection is comfortable with you including his or her name and prepared to recommend you.)
It's great to say you have a proven track record launching PR campaigns; even better to send a link to an article or press release about the campaign's success. Include link or attachments to your portfolio, writing clips, and any other relevant evidence of your work.
Include Next Steps
Conclude your email by offering next steps, such as a potential time for a follow-up call or a request for an interview or conversation. While your goal may ultimately be a job interview, smaller requests, such as an informational interview, tour of the company, or request for information on the next job fair, may more readily be granted.
Before You Send a Cold Contact Cover Letter
Is it worth it to send a cold contact letters? That's a tricky question to answer. As you can see, crafting a strong cold contact cover letter involves as much time — or even more! — than a cover letter written in response to a posted job description. And even with a strong, targeted letter, there's no guarantee that the company will be receptive to your overture.
However, that doesn't mean that cold contact emails never get results. If you email persuasively and convey clearly why the company needs someone like you, it can be far more attention-getting than one of many emails in a pile of cover letters responding to a posted offer.
Much of the success of a cold cover letter depends on timing, your understanding of the company, and the quality of your letter.
This technique is most likely to be successful when you're truly passionate about a company and believe you'd be an asset.
Before sending a cold contact cover letter, do your research. As well as knowing the company, you'll want to send your letter to the most appropriate person. Use LinkedIn to find out the names of managers or employees in the department where you'd like to work.
Cold Contact Cover Letter Example
The following is an example of a cold contact cover letter sent to an employer that hasn't advertised job openings.
Dear Mr. Paulin,
Independent schools such as Greenwood Elementary require a hardworking, organized administrative staff to ensure that the school runs successfully and efficiently. My administrative experience and organizational skills would help contribute to the long history of success at Greenwood School.
I have extensive administrative experience in an academic setting. For the past two years I have worked at the Early Childhood Center at XYZ College, where I alternated between running activities for the children and answering phones, scheduling parent-teacher meetings, and performing other organizational tasks.
I also served as an intern for the principal of 123 Elementary School, undertaking a variety of office assignments while also observing firsthand the day-to-day duties of an academic administrator.
I have attached my resume, and would love to speak with you regarding how I could make a significant contribution to Greenwood School's daily operations. I will call you within the next week to discuss arranging an interview. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Your signature (hard copy letter)
123 Main Street
XYZ Town, NY 11111