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."
How on earth would you go about applying for a job at a company that’s not hiring? Well, that’s when a cold-contact cover letter comes in to play. In this short guide, you’ll discover how to create an outstanding cold-contact cover letter to ensure businesses can’t refuse your application, even when they’re not looking to hire!
What’s a cold-contact cover letter?
Cover letters are essentially a letter of introduction to the job you’re applying for. It complements your CV and goes into more detail about your skills, experience and ambitions, and offers an insight into your personality.
Typically you’d write a cover letter because you’ve seen a job advertised and you want to apply, right? Well, what about if a company isn’t advertising jobs, but you want to inquire about potential availabilities. That’s when a cold-contact cover letter comes into play. The aim is to sell yourself for a position that may not exist yet so that when an opportunity does arise, you’re the first person the recruiter thinks of.
Cold-contact cover letters can also be labelled as letters of inquiry, letters of interest, speculative cover letters or prospecting cover letters.
Is it worth it?
If you’ve tried everything to get a job and you’re still having no luck you may choose to hand out your CV to a few companies just in case they have some positions opening up that would suit you. Also, there may be a company or two that you want to work for, but they’re not hiring, so you choose to send a CV their way just in case.
These are both examples of cold-contact, but sending a CV alone isn’t enough to secure you a potential position; you need a cover letter to sell yourself effectively, too.
When writing a cover letter in response to a job ad, you’d use the job description to make sure you’re highlighting the skills and experience they’re after. Cold-contact cover letters are much trickier because you don’t have the luxury of the job description to guide you; instead, you have to assume you know what the company needs and prove that you can offer it.
Cover letters can take lots of time to carefully craft, but cold-contact cover letters may take even longer. Therefore, it’s best to stick with one or two companies that you want to work for and aim for them.
Do your research!
If you do decide to write a cold-contact cover letter, it’s essential that you do your research properly. You need to be sure that the company you’re approaching will be able to utilise someone with your skills and abilities; it’s no good talking about how you’ve got plenty of experience within construction if you’re planning to send your cover letter and CV to a PR firm.
So, when you’re researching the company, make sure you know exactly what they do and how they operate, so you can explain why you’d be such a good fit. Also, research their leading competitors and any latest news trends related to the sector to highlight that you’re a professional in the know.
It’s also extremely important to research who your CV and cover letter should be sent to. You might find a company address or a general recruitment email address, but you should look for a specific person to send it to – that way it’s less likely to get lost in the junk mail!
Keep an eye out for the head of recruitment; they’re the one you want to send your documents too; the personal touch makes a great first impression and lets them know you’ve done your research.
How do I write one?
Below is a template of the basic format of a cold-contact cover letter. It’s pretty much identical to any other cover letter, except you need to use your knowledge of the company and sector and your general initiative to craft it, rather than a job description.
[Address Line 1]
[Address Line 2]
[Address Line 3]
[Address Line 4]
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Your opening paragraph should be ready to hook the reader. Begin with a bold statement relaying exactly why you’d be a valuable asset to the company and why you want to work for them. Be clear in the fact that you’re going to make their company so much better, rather than suggesting that the company is going to help you.
Paragraphs 2 & 3:
This is your chance to share your skills relevant to the role you have in mind. You MUST use your experience to back this up, or your claims won’t be credible. Also, make sure these claims relate to the company’s needs and goals, or they simply won’t want to know – this is why research is so important! Now would also be a good time to mention any connections you may have with the company, but make sure your connection is comfortable with the mention first.
At this point, you need to address a call to action. Tell them that your CV is attached and request an interview, phone call, or meeting. You might even go small-scale and ask if the company is soon to be at any job fairs.
Yours sincerely,[Your name]
Hard copy or email?
The template above is for a hard copy of a cold-contact cover letter, in that it’s a formal letter designed to be posted! You might find that sending an email is a preferred or a more convenient form of contact for the head of recruitment though – and it’s probably easier to find their email address!
So, there are only a few minor changes to the format if you’re sending this cover letter via email. Firstly, you can remove the company address and your personal address. You might also want to consider changing the sign-off to something a little less formal such as ‘kind regards’ or ‘best wishes’.
Secondly, you need to come up with a subject line for the email. It could be something as simple as ‘inquiry for a sales role’, or something more daring like ‘want to hire someone who can increase sales by 20%?’.
Another great thing about sending an electronic copy is that you can attach links! Believe us; if a recruiter spots a link, they’re going to click on it, so why not use this to your advantage? Include your LinkedIn URL, and if your Twitter is an extension of your professional brand, include that as well.
Also, if you’ve got your website, blog, or any other type of online portfolio, tack that on too. These links should be placed neatly under your sign-off to create a professional looking signature.
Our 5 top tips
- You MUST find out who you’re contacting. Otherwise, you’re likely to be ignored. If you absolutely can’t find a relevant name to address the letter to, then change the salutation to ‘To Sir/Madam’ and the sign-off to ‘Yours faithfully’.
- Be creative in your opening. You can’t just say that you’re looking for a job within the company because it’s related to the career you hope to have. You need to wow the recruiter.
- Let your personality shine through. The point of a cover letter is so recruiters can get to know you in more detail. So while it’s important to be professional, don’t be afraid to explain things with a touch of character.
- Include a call to action. You need to prompt some form of contact or response as it’s just too easy for a recruiter you ignore you.
- Keep it short and easy to read. Of course, you want to squeeze all your best bits into the letter, but you need to write concisely and effectively. It should be no longer than an A4 page, and don’t worry if it’s less!
Example of a cold-contact cover letter
Below is an example of a cold-contact cover letter for someone seeking a sales position.
123 Any Way
01234 567 890
123 Any Way
1st January 2000
The information displayed on your website suggests that you are an extremely progressive company with an eye for detail in the property sector and that is exactly why I am interested in working for you. With my expert knowledge of six years working in sales, I believe I can assist the company to evolve into the leading brand.
I am currently working at a construction company as a sales manager. In this role, I act as a mentor for a team of twelve and frequently monitor performance to generate sales within the field on a daily basis, in addition to keeping our sales and expenditure forecasts on target. I oversee a lot of the strategic movement within the sales department, too, and as a result of my open-minded approach, I have exceeded the company’s ambitious sales targets by 20% year on year.
Not only do I have an indispensable skill set for sales and management, but I also have experience in the construction and property market. After graduating with an upper-second class degree in Planning and Real Estate, I have spent my career observing and identifying the performance of leading brands within construction and property. With my unparalleled industry insights, I have been extremely successful in securing sales and helping companies to the forefront of the market.
I would greatly appreciate the chance to arrange an interview to discuss potential job opportunities and the contributions I could make to the company. Please find my CV enclosed for your reference. I look forward to hearing from you.