Developing Your Career

How to Warm Up a “Cold” Letter and Increase Your Response Rate

By Greg Simpson on June 7, 2012

On average, only one interview is granted for every 1,000 letters sent during the job search, according to LHH research.   Assess your current job search strategy and consider whether you are investing too much time in a tactic that has a low success rate.

Think about how you handle the unsolicited deluge of junk mail that fills your home mailbox everyday.  Then consider how you handle the spam that clogs your inbox.  Some estimates show that over 60% of direct mail is trashed without being opened. The vast majority of email recipients don’t open email from an unknown sender.  As advertising goes, the rate of return on direct email marketing is estimated to be less than one percent.

Consequently, if you’re spending countless hours sending out “cold” letters to organizations, the low rate of return can be discouraging.  While you may feel as if you’re working hard and accomplishing a lot (“I’ve sent out over 300 letters!”), in actuality, this method isn’t nearly as effective as a targeted approach.

If you plan to send a cold letter, take a few steps to “warm” it up by uncovering the name of someone within the organization that you can contact.  Use your LinkedIn network, your professional networking contacts, peers, friends and family to find the name of the hiring manager who heads the department most likely to be interested in someone with your qualifications.  Customize your letter: demonstrate your knowledge of the company and highlight what you can bring to the table.  And consider adding something of value, like an industry-related article your recipient might find interesting.

The job search is hard enough. Make it easier and more effective by working smart.

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