Editor’s note: This is a controversial idea because it goes against nearly all the job search advice there is. Mass-spamming potential employers with a generic cover letter? That’s nuts! Yet, for Nickolay Lamm, the author of this guest post, this approach worked—and he says it saved him time and frustration. Check it out right here, and then let us know what you think.
If you’re like many people, your job search consists of responding to leads posted on websites such as Careerbuilder.com, Craigslist.org, etc. Fact is, 80% of jobs are not advertised. When I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh this year, I found myself applying for jobs that weren’t even in my field of study because that was all that was posted on online job sites.
Rather than applying for jobs online and filling out forms, I contacted hundreds of businesses out of the blue, with a generic cover letter, who weren’t advertising any open positions. Doing so saved me time (because I wasn’t spending 30 minutes on one application), lowered any competition (I was the only one contacting each business), and gave me freelance opportunities. The result of my cold contact job search resulted in over 20 job leads, one full time internet marketing position with InventHelp, an inventor service company, and one internet marketing freelance position for MASSolutions, a strategic marketing firm.
Here’s exactly how I did it…
- I made a cover letter in which I detailed my accomplishments throughout my 4 years in University and made sure that the letter would appeal to any employer that was looking to hire someone for a marketing position.
- I created a website and LinkedIn profile. That way, if I caught the eye of an employer through my cover letter, I would assure them that I’m a professional if they happened to search my name in Google.
- I e-mailed my cover letter and resume to every business in my area that had to do with marketing. To make the letter sound personalized for each business, I added the name of the business, their address, and changed maybe a sentence or two within the body.
- I managed my leads. After sending my cover letter and resume to about 500 businesses, I received 20 leads.
The “mass contact” approach allows you to look for jobs without spending hours filling out applications. The key to getting responses, however, is to spend a lot of time on your cover letter. Your cover letter should make any employer say “Wow…this guy (or girl) would be an asset to my company.”
A lot of job search advice says that you have to spend a lot of time on your cover letter so that you can customize it for each business you send it to. True, if there are five or so companies that you have your eye on, spend time customizing your letter. However, most of us don’t have the luxury of focusing on only several companies. Creating something generic that appeals to anyone in your field will not only let you uncover hidden jobs and lower your competition, but keep you sane as your job leads start to come in.
Below is the original generic cover letter I sent out…
To Whom It May Concern,
I have graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, majoring in Marketing. I am looking for an employment where I can utilize my knowledge, skills and experience.
Outside of the classroom, I have noticed my growing interest in marketing. While in high school, I started my own online business. I performed market research, communicated with overseas suppliers and the U.S. Customs, and provided my customers with pre- and post-sale support. I was constantly looking for new products and markets to explore. My starting capital of $100 grew into a modest sum I could apply towards my education costs.
For two years I held a part time job at local electronics store. I worked with the customers on face-to-face basis, assisted with shelving, merchandising, and product pricing. In addition, I was solely responsible for managing the company’s online sales, including product listing, electronic communications, packing and shipping. During one summer I helped bringing the store an additional $50,000 in revenue.
I love the creative aspect of marketing. For submitting unique and original business ideas, I have been recognized by the University of Pittsburgh Big Idea Competition as a winner in 2007 and as a semi-finalist in 2011. The concept I developed for the Eat’n Park Smiley Cookie advertising campaign was noted by their management as one of the top projects in my Advertising class. My design skills and the knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator came in handy when designing websites for my own business and for the electronics store. I designed several extended Power Point presentations for two engineering firms, which were used for their marketing efforts.
In my Information Systems class I have learned how to design databases, while using Microsoft Access. I’ve also used my design and critical thinking skills to help my team, in class, be recognized by a venture capital firm and representatives from UPMC for having the most innovative business process in the IS Excellence Event.
I have spent time learning the ins and outs of search engine optimization. As a result, I have achieved a consistent 200 visitors per day to websites I created. Furthermore, I have helped Sonoma Grille maintain their ranking for the competitive keyword “Pittsburgh Restaurant”.
I am a diligent worker, and passionate about my work. I will be valuable asset to your company. My resume is enclosed, and letters of recommendation are available upon request. I am available for an interview at your convenience. I look forward to speaking with you to discuss employment opportunities.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Nickolay Lamm is a marketing specialist at InventHelp. He manages InventHelp Scam as well as other InventHelp web properties.