An unsolicited cover letter: to send, or not to send?

By Robert Half on 11/01/2017

Before we get into the so-called unsolicited application and its corresponding letter, it is useful to know that this method of applying is only appropriate for specific situations. 

That is because you are sending a letter to a company that in principle didn´t ask for it: there´s no concrete job opening. Despite this fact, many organisations are reasonably open for this type of application. But they warrant a different approach than is the case with a regular version. Below we look in greater detail at this special phenomenon.

What is an unsolicited cover letter?

Cover letters and the accompanying curriculum vitae often form the occasion for an employer to invite you for an interview in order to get better acquainted. Such an interview might then lead to a new job, provided that the job-seeker and the employer click in the right way. This type of relationship almost always comes into existence as a result of an opening and an application for this open job. That isn´t always the case, however: some job-seekers decide to write an unsolicited letter to an organisation. In so doing you’re not applying directly for a particular position; in practical effect you’re simply sending a company a letter describing your qualities and skills. 

Why send such a cover letter?

Waste of time? Not at all. In the final analysis, there´s always a chance that you’re just the person a company is looking for - or that your qualities are precisely the ones that are missing in the organisation in question. This type of cover letter is therefore generally sent to a company for which the undersigned definitely wants to work. You can call it a letter to your dream job. And anyway, it’s always true that a ´no´ you already have, while a ´yes´ you might be able to get.

What should such a letter contain?

First of all, this letter also consists of the same conventions as a regular variant and includes the following parts:

  1. Your own address
  2. The recipient’s address
  3. The place of residence and the date
  4. The "re" line
  5. The salutation

The letter itself consists of these parts:

  1. The opening of the letter itself
  2. A paragraph about yourself
  3. A paragraph about your skills
  4. A paragraph about your motivation
  5. A suitable closing

Below that you also find:

  1. The signature
  2. Any extra remarks

Characteristics of an unsolicited cover letter 

Because you are not applying for a specific position, a number of elements are of emphatic importance. Your arguments must make clear that the skills you possess constitute a real added value for the company. In a manner of speaking, the organisation in question really has to be unable to do without your abilities. When it’s put that way, sending such a letter requires a certain degree of nerve. You mustn´t bluff, but it can´t hurt to present yourself as a bit more self-assured than would be the case for a regular application. Also: use forceful language. Avoid words like ´can´ and ´will´, because they leave open the possibility that something also might not belong amongst the possibilities. Finally, subtly apply all of the above-mentioned characteristics. It isn’t the intention for your letter to become a big ego trip: every employer attaches value to realism and honesty.

So: unsolicited letter, go or no go?

Whether an unsolicited cover letter is something for you depends on your personal wishes and preferences. Have you seen a company for which you´d genuinely like to work? Then sending such a letter might very well be worth the effort.

Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide, with staffing offices in Belgium and Luxembourg, including our recruitment agency in Brussels, Robert Half can provide you with assistance including temporary accounting staffing, where and when you need it.

More From the Blog...