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How to Write Employment Prospecting Letters

by Ellie Williams

You could spend weeks searching online job boards and still not find a position suited to your interests, goals and skills. Or, you might discover your dream job only to have your resume get lost in the dozens of others submitted by equally qualified applicants. With a prospecting letter, however, you can make a direct connection with employers you’re interested in working for.

Basics

A prospecting letter closely resembles the cover letter you’d send along with your resume when applying for open positions. Follow basic cover letter etiquette, such as addressing the recipient as “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.” Never send your letter to a generic address or use “To whom it may concern.” If you don’t know who’s in charge of hiring for the kind of position you’re seeking, call the company and ask, look at the company’s website or reach out to your professional network to find someone with knowledge of the company. Limit your letter to one page and close with “Sincerely” or “Sincerely yours.”

Capture the Employer’s Attention

Because the employer might not actively be recruiting, it’s crucial that you give him a reason to read on and consider you as an addition to the company. If a mutual connection suggested you contact him, mention that in the first sentence. This establishes your credibility and depicts you as someone in the employer’s circle instead of as an outsider. Mention upfront if you found his name through your university’s alumni office, belong to the same community service or professional organizations or met him at a job fair or networking event.

State Your Reason for Writing

Get to the point quickly and tell the employer you’re interested in a position with the company. If you don’t, he might think you’re simply interested in an informational interview. Explain why you’re interested in his company over others. For example, mention that you read the company plans to expand into a market or demographic you specialize in. Or, note that you have long admired the company’s superior customer service or reputation for innovation. Describe what kind of position you’re seeking, whether it’s full time, freelance, temporary or part time. Ask if you can meet with the employer to discuss your qualifications.

Explain Your Qualifications

Once you’ve gotten the employer’s attention, describe why you’re a good match for the company. Research the company before you write to learn about its values, goals and challenges. Use this information to tailor your letter. For example, mention the company’s focus on international business and describe your experience working with foreign clients. Or, offer details on your knowledge and expertise marketing to the company’s target audience. In your letter, only highlight experience and qualifications relevant to the company and the kind of job you’re seeking.

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