How to write an open cover letter (with a template)
When looking for a new job, you can contact hiring managers even when they're not advertising open positions. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through an open cover letter. This letter serves as a platform to highlight your skills and make your interest known to recruiters. In this article, we discuss what an open cover letter is, why they're important, the steps to writing an effective cover letter and a template you can use in your next job search.
What is an open cover letter?
An open cover letter, also referred to as a cold cover letter or a letter of interest, is a document that addresses a recruiter or hiring manager of a company. In an open cover letter, you discuss your interest in the role and highlight specific skills that make you the ideal employee for their company. You can send this type of cover letter when companies don't have any positions publicly advertised or when a company isn't advertising any positions for your specific skill set.
Unlike a standard cover letter that you might attach to most job applications, these types of cover letters are most often used when you want to work in a specific industry or company with few roles regularly advertised. Depending on how effective your cover letter is, managers may keep it on file and refer back to you once they're hiring again.
Why are cold cover letters important?
Cold cover letters allow you to make your presence and interest known to potential employers. Although they may not have any openings for you at the moment, they can still use your cover letter to reconsider you in the future. This saves you from having to constantly check job listings and removes the risk of you missing a job opportunity entirely. Here are some other important reasons to send out cold cover letters:
Demonstrates your skills
A cover letter is the most effective way of demonstrating your skills in a specific industry or role. Sending them out also shows you are someone who takes initiative. Not every job seeker considers writing cold cover letters. The act of sending such a letter to a recruiter or company shows a level of professionalism and commitment to the business.
Builds your network of job opportunities
By sending an effective cover letter, you create a new job opportunity for yourself. If your cover letter impresses a hiring manager, they may contact you to discuss a position at the company. If a position isn't currently available, they may refer you to another role or company that's of interest to you.
Related: How important is a cover letter?
How to write a cold cover letter
There are some slight differences between writing a standard job application cover letter and a cold cover letter. These differences primarily affect the information you include and the amount of research you put into a company or role. Consider the steps below when crafting your next cold cover letter:
1. Research the company
When writing a cover letter, complete sufficient research into the company you're contacting. Take a look at previous job listings they've advertised and consider the skill requirements. By doing this, you craft your cover letter to meet the expectations of hiring managers. You may also research the specific recruiters at the company so that you can make the open cover letter as personal as possible.
2. Provide personal details
Include your contact details clearly at the top of your cover letter. Visible contact details are important on cover letters, as they help the hiring managers identify you quickly and allow them to file them easily for use at a later stage. When writing a cold cover letter, include your name, home address, email address and phone number. This allows recruiters to contact you about job opportunities and makes them more likely to review the letter.
3. Add a personal greeting
Including a personalised greeting on a cold cover letter adds a unique touch that makes hiring managers more likely to read your letter. It demonstrates that you've taken the time to research the company rather than simply using a generic greeting. At the beginning of your cover letter, address the recipient by their full name, position and the company they work for. You can include 'Mr/Ms', but ensure you're aware of the recruiter's preferred gender pronouns when using these.
4. Introduce yourself and express interest in the organisation
Within the first paragraph, introduce yourself and the reason you're writing to the organisation. Also, use this document to highlight previous relevant work experience and why you're a suitable fit for their organisation. Use all the information found through your research to tailor your skills to specific attributes they look for in employees. You may also address what led you to the company and why you want to work there specifically.
5. Highlight your skills and suitability for a potential role
With this letter, you can go into detail about your qualifications and attributes, as this allows you to demonstrate what makes you a valuable member of the hiring manager's team. When writing cold cover letters, you don't have an application to refer to when listing skills. Instead, take cues from other related job listings to address key areas the recruiter might be looking for.
6. Close the cover letter
Effectively closing a cold cover letter is important because it's the last impression you leave on the hiring manager. Keep your closing statement polite and professional. Reiterate the benefits you can bring to the company if given a role. Thank the recruiter for taking the time to read the letter and state how you look forward to hearing from them in the future. Finally, close the letter with your name and signature.
Related: How long should a cover letter be?
Tips for writing an effective cover letter
An effective cold cover letter stands out to hiring managers and catches their attention even when they're not advertising a job. If your letter isn't effective, the manager may discard it. Consider the following tips below when writing a cold cover letter:
Keep it short and to the point
Hiring managers don't have much time to dedicate to reading cold cover letters. It's likely that if they come across one that's very long, they might not read it at all. Keep your cover letter concise and try to hit key points without adding too much filler.
The use of positive and friendly language in a cold cover letter is vital. This demonstrates that you're a likeable person and confident in making yourself available. This makes you much more appealing as a potential candidate for the organisation.
Read over before sending
Proofread your cover letter before sending it out to hiring managers. This eliminates the possibility of spelling and grammatical errors that look unprofessional and leave a bad first impression. If your letter contains numerous errors, hiring managers are less likely to keep it on file. Ask a friend to read over your letter to ensure it reads well and is free of errors.
Make sure it looks appealing
Ensure that your cover letter looks appealing. This includes selecting appropriate fonts and font sizes. The ideal cold cover letter looks professional and reflects your commitment to the organisation.
A template for writing an effective cold cover letter
It's beneficial to have set guidelines when creating a cover letter. Having a reusable template saves time when sending out cover letters to various companies. It helps to save a copy of this template to have on hand when you identify a new company you might like to work with. Here you can find a cold cover letter template you can use in your next job search:
[Your Name] [Address] [Phone Number] [Email Address] [Date]
[Recruiter's name] [Recruiter's job title] [Name of the organisation]
Dear [recruiter's name],
[In the first paragraph, introduce yourself and discuss your job history. Touch on your core skills and why you think you might be a good fit for the company.]
[Go into detail about your qualifications, attributes and career successes. Include examples that are relevant and which may impress potential hiring managers.]
[Close the letter by restating how suitable you are for a role in the organisation. Thank the hiring manager for their time and how you look forward to hearing from them in the future.]