Take a chance, send unsolicited resumes

Friday, February 4, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 5

One of the ways to pursue positions not advertised is through the use of an unsolicited resume with a well-crafted cover letter. The purpose is to introduce yourself and your credentials to an employer that just might be able to use your services.

Many job seekers have trouble with how to use an unsolicited resume and cover letter.

The downside of an unsolicited attempt is that people not interested in your credentials may view and file them where eyes may never see them again. The result is a waste of your time.

Hence, careful research is required to make sure the right person receives your resume once you have targeted employers of interest. Library reference books have company or agency names, addresses and some contacts. However, to get the correct and current names and titles, check the employer’s website or call the company directly.

Getting a copy of the company directory or publications can also provide assistance. For larger employers, sending out a resume to multiple contacts can increase your chances of success. Many companies have multiple divisions and locations, so you may send many resumes to one employer.

Don’t send your resume to human resource departments only. In many cases, managers are hands-on and like to choose their own employees. Targeting the right level of management is important. Cover letters and resumes are more likely to be passed from higher levels to lower levels than the reverse.

What is the greatest advantage of sending an unsolicited resume? The limited competition you will face.

Dozens or hundreds of resumes show up for an advertised position. With an unsolicited resume, you are taking a chance that a manager may be considering a new position and you have the right qualifications.

An employee may have given notice or already left, and the employer needs someone quickly. Some managers are overworked or a little lazy, and don’t want to spend time going through the recruitment process. In fact, you may save the company and the department money because recruitment can be expensive. By hiring you, the tight department budget constraints may be eased a little. In today’s economy cutbacks can be to your advantage.

A little luck coming your way can be of help. However, you can influence your luck and increase your chances by sending out resumes with a well-crafted cover letter. And just like the lottery, this is a numbers game, so be generous in your targeted campaign.

It is important that your letter or email be addressed to a particular person with their correct title whenever possible. Use a strong opening statement to grab attention, indicating why you are applying to the employer. Flatter the employer on their accomplishment or on some interesting fact you have found. Company and agency websites often have recent press releases that can provide useful information.

Include your skills and accomplishments in the letter and use examples to quantify and qualify them. And, most importantly, tie your abilities to the employer’s needs. Close with an action statement indicating you will follow up later.

A follow phone call can help get the attention of a contact. If you do call and are well received, try to develop a dialogue with the manager or his/her assistant. Once you have followed up, call once a month to let him or her know you are still available. Inquire if there are any new company hiring needs, maybe in other departments. However, be discreet and don’t wear out your welcome.

There are two things that you can show to an employer that can make a difference and even make up for lesser qualifications. They are enthusiasm and knowledge of the employer. Both can go a long way in landing a job.

M.B. Owens is a Nashville-based columnist and journalist with a decade of experience writing on employment topics and business.