A reader recently asked if I had a sample “letter of interest” (email or snail mail) to send to a company for employment, even if they don’t have any particular job openings at the moment. Since I didn’t have one to show her, I thought it was a good idea to create a template for a “cold call” letter of interest to share with all of you.
The thing I want to stress is that there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY to approach this. The main thing is to find the best words possible to get them intrigued enough to read your letter carefully, take time to look at your resume, and actually consider whether it might pay to chat with you – regardless of current openings.
Can ANY letter of interest do all that?
I guess that’s a bit of a trick question, since no matter how brilliant your letter or email is, you never know what mood the reader might be in or what kinds of things are going on in the company at the time that might get in the way.
Still, with that caveat in mind, the answer is YES … a great letter of interest that just happens to land at the right time and with the right person can open doors. And since the only cost to you is your time and effort – and maybe the cost of a stamp if you mail it – then the risk is well worth it.
In many ways, job search is a matter of playing the odds and NOT about waiting for absolute certainty, which is extremely rare. And timing can indeed be everything. But this also tells us that you might want to try again at some point if you don’t get the answer you want the first time.
=> Click here for more job search samples!
When can you use this type of “cold-call” letter or email?
There are four basic situations where these can be useful:
- When there is a company you really want to work for in any position.
- When there is a particular type of job you know you want.
- When there is an industry you are targeting.
- When you are looking for your first job or to change careers and are open to pretty much anything that might fit.
Template for a cold call letter of interest
Since each situation is different, when you work with a template like this it is only meant to offer suggestions and a general framework – please tailor the words to your specific needs and situation! (You can also can use this template for volunteer, freelance, or part-time work.)
The main thing is, you want to be able to grab their attention in a way that interests them enough to give it full attention. The letter should feel natural and have your “voice”. It shouldn’t be too wooden or stiff – nor should it get too cutesy or personal, even when you’ve researched the person you’re writing to.
As much as you might want to gush about how much this means to you or tell them your whole life story, you need to respect their time and remember their point of view. In the end, it really is about them and their needs, even while you are telling them about you.
Look for opportunities to establish some quick commonality about a topic or maybe a person / project in common – even something you read that the person or company representative said. Something like that (use your judgment to stay within bounds) can give you a good lead-in paragraph to hopefully get them intrigued enough to respond.
And now here’s the sample I promised. Again, make sure to use this as a template, adapting it to YOUR individual needs:
[Property of Career Nook. Click to see sample template in new window.]
More articles to help
♦ How to Begin a Job Search: Getting My Job Search Started Right!
♦ What Are Transferable Job Skills and Why Do They Matter?
♦ How Long Does It REALLY Take To Find a Job?
♦ How to Find a Job When There Aren’t Any Jobs Out There
♦ What You Need To Know About Working With RECRUITERS
♦ Volunteer Jobs: Can Volunteer Jobs Really Lead to Real Jobs?
♦ Job Search Networking: What’s the Best Way to Ask People for Help?
♦ Networking Tips Checklist for Job Search (w/ sample spreadsheet)
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