How do you start an email for a job?
A reader recently asked if I had a sample “letter of interest,” also known as a letter of inquiry, to send to a company for employment, even if they don’t have any particular job openings at the moment. Since I didn’t have one to show her, I thought it was a good idea to create a template for a “cold call” letter of interest to share with all of you.
What is a letter of inquiry?
A letter of inquiry and a letter of interest are the same things. They are an inquiry for a job; a letter that inquires about the possibility for employment, even if there are no open jobs posted at the recipient’s company.
The thing I want to stress is that there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY to approach this. The main thing is to find the best words possible to get them intrigued enough to read your letter carefully, take time to look at your resume, and actually consider whether it might pay to chat with you – regardless of current openings.
Can ANY letter of interest do all that?
I guess that’s a bit of a trick question, since no matter how brilliant your letter or email is, you never know what mood the reader might be in or what kinds of things are going on in the company at the time that might get in the way.
Still, with that caveat in mind, the answer is YES … a great letter of interest that just happens to land at the right time and with the right person can open doors. And since the only cost to you is your time and effort – and maybe the cost of a stamp if you mail it – then the risk is well worth it.
In many ways, job search is a matter of playing the odds and NOT about waiting for absolute certainty, which is extremely rare. And timing can indeed be everything. But this also tells us that you might want to try again at some point if you don’t get the answer you want the first time.
When can you use this type of “cold-call” letter or email?There are four basic situations where these can be useful:
- When there is a company you really want to work for in any position.
- When there is a particular type of job you know you want.
- When there is an industry you are targeting.
- When you are looking for your first job or to change careers and are open to pretty much anything that might fit.
Template for a cold call letter of interest
Since each situation is different, when you work with a template like this it is only meant to offer suggestions and a general framework – please tailor the words to your specific needs and situation! (You can also can use this template for volunteer, freelance, or part-time work.)
So, how to you start an email inquiring about a job? The main thing is, you want to be able to grab their attention in a way that interests them enough to read your letter all the way through. Start by researching the name of the recipient; the standard “Dear Sir or Madame” isn’t eye catching enough for a letter of inquiry.
Next, write a compelling opening paragraph about yourself and why you want to work for the company. The letter should feel natural and have your “voice.” It shouldn’t be too wooden or stiff – nor should it get too cutesy or personal, even when you’ve researched the person you’re writing to.
As much as you might want to gush about how much this means to you or tell them your whole life story, you need to respect their time and remember their point of view. In the end, it really is about them and their needs, even while you are telling them about you. Look for opportunities to establish some quick commonality about a topic or maybe a person / project in common – even something you read that the person or company representative said. Something like that (use your judgment to stay within bounds) can give you a good lead-in paragraph to hopefully get them intrigued enough to respond.
And now here’s the sample I promised. Again, make sure to use this as a template, adapting it to YOUR individual needs: