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.
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Referral Cover Letters Examples for Job Searching
When you are engaged in a job search, or just seeking to expand your network of contacts, you may have the opportunity to write cover letters, or letters of inquiry, mentioning a referral by someone you both know.
What to Include in a Referral Letter
Having a professional or personal referral will make your letter stand out, and give you a better chance of being noticed. You should always include the name of the person who referred you, and the circumstances of your acquaintance in your cover letter.
When you're applying for a job, Include a brief overview of your work experience and your qualifications for the position you're interested in. Take the time to match your credentials to the job description if you are applying for an available position.
If you're not writing about a specific job opening, ask the contact person for a meeting or call to discuss opportunities or to gather information. Finish your letter by thanking the reader for his or her consideration and stating how you will follow up on your letter.
Referral Cover Letters and Email Examples
The following are examples of an email message and cover letters mentioning a referral for a job.
Email Referral Message Example for a Job
If you send your cover letter via email, mention the referral in the subject line of your message.
Subject: Referral From Janna Doling
Dear Mr. McKensie,
I am writing to express my interest in the International Marketing position open at WellCam, Inc.
I am very familiar with your products and would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about how I could help increase your international market share. My colleague Janna Doling recommended that I contact you directly about this position. Janna and I have worked closely in the industry for many years, and she thought that I would be an excellent match for WellCam.
My extensive experience marketing similar products internationally has given me an overall knowledge of the business, directly applicable to your interest in increasing sales abroad. In my previous position as International Marketing Manager with ABC Company, I successfully increased our revenue in each of my territories by over 40% within my first year. In the six years I spent at ABC, I helped to establish a market share in an additional ten countries, while increasing revenue and profits in all locations.
I believe that I am an excellent candidate for the position you have advertised, and would very much like the opportunity to meet with you to discuss what I have to offer WellCam, Inc.
Referral Cover Letter Example for a Job
This sample cover letter is for a retail position and includes a referral from a mutual acquaintance.
City, State, Zip
City, State, Zip
Dear Ms. Buzby,
I am writing in reference to the position of Store Manager at Lucky's Book Store advertised in the Gazette. Jean Davis suggested that I contact you regarding this position. Jean and I have worked together coordinating our Community Library Book Sale for the past several years, and she believes my experience and enthusiasm would be compatible with the work environment at Lucky's.
My retail experience is extensive, having worked in national department stores such as Racy's and Willards, as well as small boutiques in the local Downtown College Area. As Manager of the Gift Department at Racy's, I was responsible for overseeing the Bridal and Gift Registry and suggested changes to the layout which were adopted throughout the company. While working as Store Manager at The Modern Woman, a women's clothing boutique, I increased sales by 50% over the five years I was there through customer service, creative advertising, and display. During that time, The Modern Woman was recognized in the Downtown Area's "Best Shopping Experience" magazine four times.
With my love of books and retail experience, I believe that I could offer Lucky's a fresh perspective and innovative ideas in the competitive booksellers market.
Please review my enclosed resume. I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss what I can offer to Lucky's Book Store. Thank you for your time and consideration,
Referral Cover Letter Example Asking for a Meeting
Mr. Rich Freeland, VP Marketing
123 Main Street
Oklahoma City, WA 66556
Dear Mr. Freeland,
In a recent conversation with Janis French, she suggested I contact you. Janis and I worked very closely together on a production last spring in NY. She was kind enough to offer me some advice on the next steps in my career. She mentioned that she had had the opportunity to work with you several years ago, and she thought that perhaps you would be able to offer some guidance to me as well.
My passion is marketing large productions and events where I can utilize my creative, innovative, and problem-solving abilities. The sense of satisfaction I feel at the close of an event or production is always worth the time, effort, and hard work. My work includes seven international trade shows for SC Johnson and Sons.
They were pleased with the increase in quality inquiries and brand awareness and the fact I had reduced the overall trade show costs.
Mr. Freeland, I do not expect you to have (or know of) opportunities. I would like a brief meeting to discuss the convention industry as well as current and future trends. You are nationally recognized for your expertise in managing Moscone Center, Reunion Plaza and, currently, The Ford Center. Your advice and feedback will be greatly appreciated.
I will call you during the first part of next week to set up a convenient time to meet. I will come prepared and be brief. I look forward to meeting you.
More Cover Letter Samples
Review sample cover letters for a variety of scenarios including a follow-up letter, inquiry letters, job/industry specific sample cover letters, cold contact, and referral letter samples.
Read More: How to Ask for a Referral for a Job | How to Mention a Referral in a Cover Letter