Some employers list job openings on their company websites (and not anywhere else). They’re usually on “careers” pages or “join our team” or simply “current openings”. Sometimes there’s no mention at all of any vacancies. You’ve probably heard that in these cases writing a speculative letter to the company is a good way of eliminating competition.
Unfortunately there’s a very low response rate to speculative letters. In all likelihood it wouldn’t be this way, if it weren’t for the standard mistakes people often make. When we take a look at a regular speculative letter, then the main problem is that it isn’t targeted.
It’s usually addressed to „Dear Sir/Madam“ or worse „To whom it may concern“. This is the best way to ensure it goes straight to the HR department (if you’re lucky) and not to the actual decision maker. Because the letter isn’t tailor-made, the person writing it doesn’t offer a solution to a specific problem. It’s clear that he/she doesn’t know anything about the company, which definitely isn’t impressive. It also hasn’t got a “call to action” (request to do something) in the end of the letter.
7 Tips on Using a Targeted Approach:
1) Address the letter to a named person who has the power to hire you;
2) Give a specific reason for writing him/her;
3) Research the company, so you can offer your advice to improve a situation or add value to the company;
4) Make it clear you want a meeting;
5) Ask them to keep your details on file for a suitable position in the future (as an alternative, if they really aren’t hiring at the moment);
6) Don’t attach your CV;
7) In the very end of the letter include a “call to action” – make a business proposition and ask them to call you at 555-5555.
You may think that if you have a generic speculative letter, you can send it to a large number of prospective employers. The idea is to cast your net wide enough, that you must catch something. That’s a common misconception. It’s much more effective to send out 3 targeted letters and get 3 responses than 100 universal letters and still get 3 responses.
Applying for a job is like selling yourself and your experience to the company. Generally if you want to sell something (especially over the Internet), it takes multiple contacts before someone’s ready to buy. There’s a reason for that. People believe that the more knowledge, trust and proof they have the better (and righter) their decision will be. The job application is the first and for many the last contact with a potential employer.
Here Are Just a Couple of Ways to Increase the Number of Contacts:
1) Before sending your application think of a relevant question to ask and call or email the contact person named in the job ad. First of all he/she might be involved in the hiring process. Secondly it may also give you a better understanding of the job and what to emphasize in your application. Remember to always send a thank you letter after someone has helped you.
2) Be a human not a robot. Add a personal touch to your job application. Do a little research to find out the recruiter’s personal/professional interests. Write in the cover letter something along the lines of: “I am really interested in working with you because we share a love of…”.
3) If you’re invited for an interview, pay close attention to the details. It’s important because after the interview you should definitely write a follow-up letter. Include: “I appreciate that you took time to have a thorough conversation with me and introduce the potential position”. Also mention something the recruiter told you that was interesting and made you think. Offer your thoughts and solutions (depending on the situation).
Utilizing this knowledge will definitely make you stand out. You’re now a person they kind of already know and who’s pleasant to communicate with. All of the above mentioned techniques humanize you and actually make the employer look for a reason to hire you.
This is a story about a good friend, who was at the time in his first year of college. He applied for an Executive Assistant position in a small but reputable company. He didn’t have any experience in the required field (or hardly anywhere for that matter).
Despite the stiff competition, it turned out he was the second best. The employers liked him very much (and probably saw the great potential for growth), so they created an additional job for the young man. He was offered a position as a Research Assistant. You’re probably wondering how he managed to make the recruiters want him so badly.
First of all his CV was top-notch. It was neat, concise, articulate, confident and interesting (even contained some intriguing information). The resume was maximally adapted to the requirements of the job. Everything the student had ever achieved even remotely related to the position was put in the CV. The accomplishments were presented as something special and valuable. The resume painted a picture of a person with wide range of skills and a strong willpower. It was also fresh and creative.
Before writing the CV and motivation letter, the student analysed the job offer. He got a general idea which features of the candidate are valued the most by the employer. The motivation letter addressed a lot of the requirements with small success stories. They were about his previous work experience and different life events which had demanded similar skills. It showed that he had an ability to handle relevant problems.
Maybe here’s the most important part. One task of the candidate was to find some information on the Internet and use it to create graphs in Excel. He also had to write an article on a given subject. He managed to make a very good and thorough work quite fast. He was later told that he was one of the first who sent out the email with the motivation letter, resume and homework. It was really impressive and gave him a strong advantage. It was the key to the interview.
When he was asked to participate in the interview, he started to prepare right away. He read a book about the most frequently asked interview questions and searched for interview tips on the Internet. In conclusion he thought out answers to different interview questions. He tried to create a vision of himself as someone successful with strong convincing power. He even listened to the music that made him feel happy and energetic. After a long good night sleep he went to the interview and managed to shine so brightly that the employers were immediately sold.