Writing an Effective Unsolicited Cover Letter

Writing an Effective Unsolicited Cover Letter

An unsolicited cover letter is one the hiring manager didn’t explicitly ask for through a verbal or written request. While many people send cover letters in response to job postings or referrals, unsolicited cover letters can help you show initiative and land jobs that aren’t advertised. Learning to write one of these letters in a way that positions you as an attractive candidate is the key to success.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of an unsolicited cover letter?

If you’re the kind of candidate who has only ever responded to job postings, the idea of writing an unsolicited cover letter may be intimidating. Learning about the pros and cons of unsolicited cover letters can help you determine whether this bold approach is right for you.

Standing out from other applicants

Many people are hesitant to send unsolicited cover letters because they worry about coming across as overly eager or self-confident. What most cover letter articles won’t tell you, though, is that an unsolicited cover letter can help you stand out in a good way.

This move may get you noticed more easily because you won’t be competing with hundreds of other applicants. Your cover letter will arrive unexpectedly, giving the hiring manager time to focus on reviewing your qualifications.

It demonstrates initiative and motivation

Sending an unsolicited application cover letter shows that you’re a proactive candidate who knows how to take the initiative. Hiring managers will likely see you as a self-starter, a trait often associated with high-performing employees. 

Sending an unsolicited cover letter also showcases your excitement and motivation regarding the position and company. If the prospect of working at a particular business prompted you to send an unsolicited cover letter, it’s safe to assume you have an authentic desire to work there.

Sending an unsolicited application cover letter shows that you’re a proactive candidate who knows how to take the initiative. Hiring managers will likely see you as a self-starter.

Uncovering hidden jobs

It may surprise you to learn that many companies don’t advertise all of their vacant roles. Sometimes, it's because they want a narrower pool of candidates with specific experience or skills. Other times, the HR manager or business owner just doesn’t have the time to sift through hundreds of applications.

In these cases, an unsolicited cover letter can help open doors for you. If the company has an unadvertised open position, you may be first in line for consideration.

When competition for top talent is fierce, hiring personnel may not be accustomed to having great candidates come to them. The hiring manager may appreciate you making their talent acquisition journey easier. 

However, it takes a lot of effort and time

It’s important to note that sending a cold application never guarantees that you’ll land the job or even receive an interview. There may be times when the company doesn’t have any open positions, prefers to hire from within, or already has candidates in mind for the job. Consequently, unsolicited cover letters can be hit and miss.

Moreover, these letters take considerable time and effort to write. While you may be rewarded with a great position, be prepared to do a lot of work on the front end to get it.

How to write an effective unsolicited solicited cover letter

While unsolicited cover letters have some elements in common with general cover letters, there are some additional steps you’ll need to take. Here are a few key pointers and best practices to keep in mind.

Research the company and role when possible

It’s important to do your research when writing any cover letter, but it’s even more critical when your application is unsolicited.

The hiring manager will likely wonder what prompted you to send an application without seeing a vacant position. You need to preemptively explain to them what it is about the company or job that interested you.

Customize your letter

Just because you’re sending an unsolicited application doesn’t mean it should be generic. Hiring managers will appreciate a customized letter, as it makes your intentions for sending it clear.

A specially tailored cover letter is also more compelling, as it allows you to align your experience and skill set with the company’s needs and showcases the effort you’ve put in, which is key for a cold application.

Highlight relevant skills and experience

Anytime you send an unsolicited cover letter, you must make it a point to highlight how you could be of value as an employee of the company.

This is where your research will come in handy. Use what you know about the organization’s culture, values, mission, and goals, as well as the position you want, to introduce relevant skills and anecdotes that relate to these aspects.

Use appropriate language and tone

Because you won’t have any familiarity with the company or hiring manager, it’s even more important to maintain a professional tone throughout your letter.

Resist the urge to inject humor, as you never know how it might come across to the hiring manager. As many cover letter and resume articles advise, you should also avoid using slang or other types of informal language.

Use a cover letter template

Using cover letter templates can give you a better idea of what sections to include and help ensure that your letter is formatted correctly. Unsolicited cover letter examples will also help you nail the right tone, as you’ll get a chance to see how you can incorporate formal and professional language into your letter.

Expert Tip:

Keep your unsolicited cover letter to one page or less in length. Remember, you’re sending your letter without anyone having requested one. Writing a concise letter shows that you respect the hiring manager’s time and don’t want to waste it.

Key points when sending 

It’s especially important to adhere to best practices when sending an unsolicited cover letter. Keep the following key points in mind as you compose your letter.

Attach your resume

Make sure the hiring manager has everything they need to evaluate you as a candidate. Don’t forget to include your resume, as it’s a crucial document that summarizes your experience.

If you need help crafting a good resume, consider using resume templates. These helpful frameworks will show you exactly what to include and how to format it.

Address the hiring manager properly

Avoid using generic greetings like “To whom it may concern” or “Dear sir/madam” as your salutation. Instead, show the hiring manager you’ve researched the company and put effort into your application by addressing them by name.

If you don’t know their name, try looking them up on LinkedIn, or just call the company and ask directly. Once you have a name, stick to proper titles like “Mr.” or “Ms.” to maintain a sense of formality.

Acknowledge it’s an unsolicited letter and application

There’s no need to feel awkward about sending a blind cover letter, especially if you truly feel you can provide value to the company.

That said, you should acknowledge that your letter is unsolicited and explain why you’re sending it to avoid any misunderstanding. Doing so sets a tone of honesty and transparency and establishes trust between you and the hiring manager.

Thank the contact person or hiring manager

Make sure to express sincere gratitude to the person reading your application.

Since your letter is unsolicited, you can’t be sure it will arrive at a good time for the hiring manager. Thanking them for reading your materials acknowledges that they’re going out of their way to consider you as a candidate and will make them feel appreciated.

An unsolicited cover letter can be a bold move toward your dream job

Sending an unsolicited cover letter is a bold move that will make you stand out as an applicant. However, many hiring managers will appreciate you taking the initiative to contact them and articulate how your skills can be of value to their company.

When writing your letter, research the company thoroughly, address the hiring manager by name, and maintain the appropriate tone throughout. Acknowledging that your letter is unsolicited can also help you establish transparency and trust. 

If you want to craft the perfect application, use cover letter and resume examples to guide your content and formatting. These tools can go a long way toward helping you craft an application package that will get you noticed so you can land the perfect position.

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