It is estimated that around 15 to 20 percent of positions are filled as a result of unsolicited applications (also called cold, spontaneous, direct, etc.). This method depends on a great deal of luck as your application must reach the right person at the right time. But if you manage this, your chances are good, as you will have no or very little direct competition.
- Marketing yourself with a cold application must be doubly effective You need to be innovative and imaginative, yet short and precise, as you want to arouse your reader’s attention at the very first glance.
- Tailor your application to a particular job profile. HR officers do not have time to choose a job for you and will promptly discard non-specific applications so think carefully about what you have to offer and decide where and in which function you want to work.
- Address your application to a person by name (ideally you will already have had telephone contact with this person).
- Do not send mass applications and standard letters. This is a futile exercise as experienced HR officers recognize mass letters instantly. Given that you always meet people twice in life, it’s not worth ruining future chances with an unprofessional cold application.
In many cases it is advisable before sending an unsolicited application to make a call first. After all, the more you know, the better you can tailor your application to the company’s expectations and preferences. It also makes the first sentence easier to write (e.g. “Many thanks for our conversation...it encouraged me to submit my application for” or “Following our telephone call...” or “ “With reference to my telephone call with Mr XY...”).
The purpose of the call is also to make a positive and friendly impression so that when the person receives your application they will remember the pleasant conversation with you and give your application closer attention. It is therefore important that you prepare the call well:
- Collect information about the organization.
- Find the right contact person (call the HR department for questions concerning your application in general or call the department relating to your field for specific, job-related questions).
- Think about how you want to initiate the conversation, what questions you want to ask, how you can present yourself briefly and precisely, and what you want to achieve with the conversation.
- Consider in advance what objections or questions your counterpart may have.
- Call at a suitable hour and begin immediately by asking if the time is convenient.