In the last entry we looked at making your company list. Today we’ll examine knocking on companies’ doors by using approach letters.
The other day during a résumé critique one of my customers told me how he had been networking. Something was in the works with a company as a result of him being proactive and knocking on the company’s door. Not literally; although, that’s a viable option. He had sent an approach letter to one of the directors at the company asking for an informational meeting, which then lead to further consideration.
Of course a phone call might have been quicker for my customer than sending a letter, but he felt sending an approach letter was right for him. (By the way, using LinkedIn’s Search Companies feature is a great way to find people at companies.)
For you jobseekers who lean more toward introversion, an approach letter may also feel more comfortable than calling a director, VP, or an individual contributor. There’s more to an approach letter, though, than simply sending an e-mail telling the person that you’d like to get together with her to meet for a short meeting.
With the approach letter, first you’ll research the company so you can write intelligently about why you’d like to meet. You’ll write highly of the company, selling the company to the recipient of your letter. This will show your enthusiasm. It will also show you took the time to visit the company’s website, read articles in the newspaper, and used other methods to research the company. This is the first step you’ll take to impress the recipient.
Next you’ll throw in some kudos about yourself. What makes it worth her while to meet with you? You gained some valuable skills when you worked at the medical device company in their marketing department. You’ll write about the accomplishments you had, like authoring press releases that drew the attention of many of the media, spearheading a direct mail campaign that garnered new business beyond what the company had achieved.
Don’t forget to indicate that you’ll call the recipient. Set a date and exact time. If the person picks up the phone or you have to leave a voice-mail, be ready to explain why you’d like to meet with her. You would like some information on a position you’re pursuing. You’d also like to share some knowledge of competitors or the industry.
What follows could be a networking meeting or maybe good timing on your part—there may actually be a job the company’s trying to fill, unbeknownst to other jobseekers searching the Internet for advertised positions. This is precisely why you don’t want to simply send an e-mail without laying out your skills that make you ideal for a possible job in the company.
The only thing left to do is picking up the phone and asking the recipient if she received your letter. Following up is the last component of sending an approach letter. Even if talking on the phone terrifies the heck out of you, at least you have gotten in your message without having to deliver it cold. You’re compelling writing has wooed the recipient into wanting to know more about you.
In the next article, we’ll look at using LinkedIn to network on line.
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Good article; though I do have one small suggestion. The approach letter/informational interview is a little more advantageous if done through email rather than a phone call. This allows for an option of adding “I understand you may be very busy; I would really love to contact you by phone to set up an informational interview, what would be a good time for you?”
This shows that you are aware of and respectful of the person’s time and gives them the option of giving you a good time to reach them by phone, or pre-empt it by suggesting a good time for the informational interview and going straight to that instead. Then after that by all means follow through, and do not forget to also send them a thank you after the informational meeting; after all they gave you some of their valuable time in order to meet with you.
Thanks, Cherilyn. You don’t want to come across as too forward; however, you also don’t want to be timid. What often happens when you leave the ball in the employer’s court is…nothing. There is no easy way to approach the employer without risking offending him/her. We can only hope for the best.
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