Jennifer Parris reports (sample letter included):
"As part of your job search strategy, you should consider writing letters of inquiry to companies you’d like to work for. Much like the name connotes, a letter of inquiry (also known as a letter of interest) is a professional way of reaching out to a potential employer to establish a connection when they haven’t advertised any job openings you’d be a match for. The benefit of a letter of inquiry is that it puts your qualifications and accomplishments in the spotlight. But if writing a letter of inquiry has got you groaning, don’t worry...Since taking the time to write a letter of inquiry is time-consuming, the last thing you want is for it to get tossed in the trash before even being read. That’s why you should look for a good contact to send it to. Go through your network first (check out your LinkedIn, as well as other former colleagues and bosses) to see if you already have a connection at the company. If not, you should address the letter of inquiry to a management-level contact who would in theory be your boss should you be hired. Another option is to send it to an HR director if you can’t track down any other solid leads. Under no circumstances, though, should you blindly send your letter of inquiry to a company and address it 'Dear Sir' or 'To Whom It May Concern.'...Remember, you’re not applying for a real job, so your letter of inquiry should not be a regurgitation of your resume or mimic a traditional cover letter. Brevity is the hallmark of a letter of inquiry, so make sure to include the reason you’re contacting the company (i.e., why working for that particular company would mean so much to you), as well as the skills and work experience that would make you an asset to their organization...Since you’re looking for a flexible job (one that allows you to work remotely or perhaps to get hired for freelance assignments), it’s a smart move to mention this in your letter of inquiry. After all, an employer might not be hiring full-timers, but could be on the lookout for contract workers for special on-occasion assignments. Putting your flexible work needs out there might make the difference in getting called in for a job interview!...Sure, almost everything is done online today, including applying for jobs. With a letter of inquiry, though, it can be in your best interest to send in an actual letter along with a printed copy of your resume. The chances of it being read are higher and give your letter a better impression upon a potential boss. Sending in an emailed letter of inquiry could be deleted more easily and without much thought...A letter of inquiry can be a great way to establish a connection with a company that you’d like to work for. It can put you on a company’s radar—and put your resume at the top of the hiring pile, too."
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