Write a cold call cover letter. Are you kidding me?
This is a typical response when I suggest to my clients that they should try this approach in their job search strategy.
In fact, many people aren't even sure what a 'cold call' letter is. No mystery......it is simply making an approach to an organisation cold. That is, they probably don't know you. And.....you don't know if there is a job opportunity available with them.
Yet, something you should know is......making a direct approach to an employer with a cold call cover letter, combined with a follow up phone to your letter sometimes produces amazingly good results.
Initiating contact with employers on your target list with a cold call letter is a much better option than waiting for job ads to appear.
This is what is meant by being proactive in your job search strategy.
And..... this is one way to tap into the hidden job market. As you may already know, only a small percentage of the available work, somewhere around 20-40%, is advertised.
Below are some simple guidelines to follow for making cold contacts, but first, before we look at how to write a cold call letter.......
Simple answer.....people don't like rejection! They are afraid of getting a "No", or perhaps worse, no response at all from the person they have written to.
And.....it's true, this might actually happen. You might get "No Thanks", or no response whatever.
For other people, they won't write a cold call cover letter because they don't want to be thought of as being "pushy".
If these types of things are holding you back from implementing this legitimate, and sometimes successful jobsearch strategy, please look at the ideas below for overcoming fear of rejection.
Don't do what many direct marketers do.
Their approach is to bombard the market place with hundreds, sometimes thousands of letters. Everyone get exactly the same letter!
If you've received a letter like this, well......you can guess why this approach gets such a poor response.
These types of marketers think a 1% response rate to their cold call letters is a reasonable result.
So, tip number one is.....do not write a generic, one size fits all cold call letter.
Make sure each letter you send is carefully and highly targeted, and relates to the needs or interests of your reader.
No one likes getting a "No" - having their approach rejected. As previously mentioned, some people think it is being pushy to make uninvited contact with a letter. Fear of being thought of as pushy is just another expression of the fear of rejection.
Using the principle - it's not what happens to you in life, it's how you respond to what happens that makes the difference. Here are some techniques for handling rejection that some people find helps them - simply click on a link below to jump to the section you need:
Develop your self confidence
Develop a healthy self confidence in your product - the product that is "you", and what you have to offer an employer.
If you're unsure about what you have to offer, do a career review, and a career self assessment.
By doing this thoroughly you will come to the realisation that you have made valuable contributions in the past, and are capable of doing so in the future.
Develop a genuine self confidence based on the evidence you gather about your career from doing a career review.
Write your cold call cover letter knowing that you have what it takes!
Develop a features/benefits list of your capabilities
One outcome from a career review will be that you have a concise understanding of what your most employable skills and knowledge are. Sales people would refer to these attributes as being product "features".
It's one thing to know what your employable features are, but the next step is to sell them to an employer.
How? For each skill or component of technical or specialist knowledge you have (your features) write a statement of benefit, or benefits to the employer that you will be cold contacting.
Feature: - I have well developed interpersonal communication skills.
The various "features", and accompanying "benefits" that you want to promote to the employer will be your sales pitch.
The most successful sales people know that their clients buy because of the benefits......no the features.
So.....make sure that for every feature you claim you have, explain the benefit, or relevancee of that feature to the employer.
Manage your self talk - it's just business!
Don't take "No" personally. Think of it as something that just happens sometimes.....it's just business.
Remind yourself that it is your sales pitch, not you the individual that is being rejected.
There are also many other reasons why your approach might be rejected, reasons that have nothing to do with your approach. For example:
You can probably think of dozens more quite valid reasons for an organisation saying no to your approach.
So.......when you get a "No", remind yourself......it's just business!
Also......"No" doesn't always mean "No forever" - it means "not now".
Offer solutions to problems
In keeping with the idea that your letter is a type of 'sales pitch', remember that what is likely to get people interested is if you provide solutions to their problems.
If the client can see that the proposed solution will actually solve their problem, then it is quite likely they will make the purchase. Or, in this case......hire you!
Consider the perspective of the person reading your cold call letter. If someone had written to you, for example, clearly showing that they understand your business, problem etc......and they are also proposing a solution......would you be interested?
The answer almost certainly is going to be yes.....of course you'd be interested.
By approaching an employer with a possible solution to a problem that they have, you're at least giving them something to think about.
The bottom line when it comes to deciding whether to write a cold call letter, or not, is......be prepared to ask for what you want.
If you never ask an employer on your target list if there is a job opportunity, you'll certainly never find out if there's a position available or not.
When you send a cold call cover letter to an employer they won't know who you are, or why you are writing to them.
This means, to maximise the chances of getting your letter read.....you need to first:
How do you do this?
You must start your letter with a hook......something that will attract the attention and interest of the reader.
To achieve this you will have to do research into the organisation that you are writing to, such as:
Armed with this type of information you can then pitch the content of your letter around an issue, or issues that are relevant to the organisation.
Set out the content of your cold call letter into four paragraphs as follows:
Keep your letter to just one page in length.
You'll find that this cover letter format will make it easy for the reader to follow your ideas and to identify the key points you are making in your letter.
This is the most important part of your cold call cover letter. If the opening paragraph isn't read, then it is unlikely the rest of the letter will be read.
Here are some suggestions for attention grabbing opening paragraphs:
This is very important. Write to a decision maker - usually the line manager of the area in the organisation in which you'd like to work.
Avoid sending your cold call cover letter to a support department such as Human Resources.
A letter to HR almost always gets one of two responses - your letter is either ignored, or you get a standard letter response "Thank you for your interest, there are no jobs at present, we'll keep your details on our files."
How do you find out the name of the decision maker in an organisation in which you'd like to work?
Make a phone call to the organisation. Explain that you have some important information you would like to send to them. Indicate that you want to ensure that this reaches the correct person.
Then ask for the name and position title of the relevant person, and check for the correct spelling of their name.
There is no need to identify yourself. Also, have a bit of a story prepared if you are asked by the telephone receptionist if you are asked a question like "what is this in relation to?"
The whole idea for writing a cold call cover letter is to be proactive in your jobsearch.
This means it will be up to you to initiate the next steps and get a response to your letter. You should not rely on the organisation getting back to you.
This is why you explain in the last paragraph of your letter the action you intend to take. The best follow up is for you to make contact a few days after sending your letter - perhaps allow 3-4 days before following up.
Prepare for your telephone follow up so that you maintain the professional image you created in your letter, and your resume if you have attached this to your letter.
Remember, it will be up to you to take responsibility for the direction of the conversation with the person that you have written to. A possible script for the follow up phone call could be as follows:
Asking to maintain occasional contact with people that you've sent a cold call cover letter to is an excellent way of expanding your network of professional contacts.
It's also good practice. You've done the hard work in establishing contact, it makes sense to continue to build the relationship. You have no way of knowing who your contact might speak to, about you, within their own network in future.
Making unsolicited contact, in other words a cold call, with organisations and people that you would like to work for is a valid jobsearch strategy.
Many people have created all sorts of exciting opportunities for themselves because they took the initiative to make cold call contacts.
Here are some other links that will assist you in your jobsearch: