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Write Cold-Contact Cover Letters to Warm Up Employers

A sales rep looking for new customers will likely resort to making out-of-the-blue “cold calls.” Likewise, a job seeker can use a “cold contact” cover letter. The letter pitches your qualifications to a prospective employer (or recruiter) that has no advertised job openings.

The purpose of a cold-contact letter – like that of any cover letter – is to introduce your resume and highlight your relevant skills and accomplishments. What makes it different from a regular cover letter is that it must emphasize how well you would fit in with and strengthen the organization, rather than how you’re the right person for a specific job.

Let's say you've identified an up-and-coming company, one that can benefit by having someone with your skills and experience on its staff. Even better: You might know someone who works there and talks about how it inspires creativity, pays well, and offers great benefits.

Even though there seem to be no openings at this company, you’re interested in working for them. You've prepared a resume, but you need a cover letter to accompany it.

Time to write a cold-contact cover letter (sometimes called a prospecting letter).

Here’s how you put it together:

The Opening

After you research the company to determine where it’s going and where you might fit in, use your first paragraph to emphasize your findings and introduce yourself. Address the cover letter to a specific person. Ask your contact, or do the research to find the name and title of a person who has knowledge of the positions or department that would accommodate your skills. Here’s an example:

Mr. Michael Jones
Chief Information Officer
ABC Company, Inc.
123 Anywhere Blvd.
Somewhere, MI  55555

RE:  Employment Opportunities for Skilled IT Professional

Dear Mr. Jones:

I have been following recent news about ABC Company, especially its acquisition of XYZ International and recent public offering of an additional 1 million shares of common stock to help fund more acquisitions. I believe my skills and extensive experience in the information technology field, most notably as a project manager and database administrator, can benefit ABC as it carries out its global growth strategy.

The Second Paragraph

Build on the previous paragraph, citing further information, such as professional certifications and recent accomplishments, that will spur the reader to look at your resume. Example:

I recently spearheaded the integration of and application upgrades for 250 desktop and mobile devices following an acquisition. My team finished the two-month project a week ahead of schedule and within budget. I believe my record of accomplishments such as this one, as well as my certification as a Senior IT Project Management Professional, could greatly benefit your company as it embarks on its ambitious plans.

The Third Paragraph

Offer to talk with the addressee further about the company, your skills and background, and how they might benefit the company. Example:

I welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my skills and professional experience can help ABC. I will call your office a week from today to see whether we can schedule an appointment.

The Closing

To finish the letter, plug your resume a little, and be optimistic and respectfully assertive about continuing a dialogue with the hiring manager. Example:

My resume offers a more complete picture of my experience and qualifications, and what I can do for you and your company. I look forward to talking with you next week. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to schedule an interview, please contact me at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Joseph P. Smith

There you have it: A concise letter that strikes a confident, positive tone, points out the benefits you could bring to the business, and invites the reader to learn more about you.

Have you ever sent a “cold contact” cover letter and resume that resulted in an interview? What did you emphasize and how did it work out?

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