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I'm in a position where I am about to write a company asking for a job, and basically describing my own job position. This company is aching for people and is looking for smart people, but at the same time they don't have a lot of posted jobs on their site - recruitment appears to go through a lot of word of mouth. One of the VPs from this company spoke with my advisor and recommended I write her.

Thus in my email cover letter I have to basically sell myself, but also I have to sell a position. I'm in Usability/HCI and I have a Ph.D in computer science, but I want to lean more toward prototyping and user experience design work rather than software development work.

The typical advice for this type of cover letter is to aim your letter to address all of the qualities they ask for in the position posting. Since there's no position posting, is there a typical style or way to try to effectively "sell your own position" or get them to create a position that is basically for you?

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    I've done this a few times. The rule of thumb is to be self-confident and offer yourself the same way as you would if the position you apply to was open and published. Just imagine those people are craving for a professional but haven't come up with a job description yet. In the end, you either get rejected because the company isn't hiring for this position (which isn't a negative outcome, after all), or because you somehow don't fit (not a completely negative outcome, either). – rishat Apr 22 '15 at 5:11
  • Here's a related question that may provide additional insight: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/52345/… – Careerasaurus.com Oct 2 '15 at 13:07
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I have done this once or twice (the second time they had a position but they didn't know what they really wanted, so I shaped it). The key for me was to point out their need first and my skills second. If your approach sounds too much like "give me a job that you don't list" they'll probably punt, but if you can hook them with an insight about a need that they actually have, you can get somewhere.

In the first case I reviewed all their job postings, the "our people" section of their web site, and their product descriptions, and from all that it appeared they did not have anyone with my (relevant) specialties. So I said that, as diplomatically as I could (I worked at that :-) ) -- you're doing cool stuff, it looks like you could do even cooler stuff if you had someone who could bring these skills, I have those skills, and I'd like to discuss opportunities for us to work together. That was enough to get me to the phone call with the team lead, which allowed me to ask probing questions and sell myself. Do it in that order -- you're making an unsolicited pitch, so you have to evaluate their needs, not yours.

In the second case I had a contact who was able to take me straight to the phone call, so I didn't have to write a cover letter, but the rest of the conversation played out the same way.

I also learned from both of these that the more quickly you can get to a synchronous conversation, the better. You're asking them to rethink their set of roles; try not to do that by email for too long. You need to be able to interact and brainstorm together.

  • Who did you send/address the email to? Was it HR, or was it someone else? – Devdatta Tengshe May 22 '13 at 9:55
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    @DevdattaTengshe, I contacted the person I thought most likely to be the hiring manager. Formal HR stuff can come later, in my experience. – Monica Cellio May 22 '13 at 12:51
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    +1 to jumping past HR if at all possible. HR can only say no. If you can get someone inside the company to ask them to bring you for an interview, you have mostly bypassed that step. This is one of the techniques Executive Outplacement firms teach their clients, actually, since executive positions are almost always unadvertised. – keshlam Jan 2 '15 at 17:28
  • It's also worth investigating companies that interest you've. I've taken more than one job where I reached out to various people such as IT directors, CTOs, etc. And said "give me 30 minutes of your time, and I'll make you money" I've had some just ignore me, but more often than not being so bold has earned me my 30 minutes to "sell myself". Typically I would spot companies that just exploded in growth and finding gaps in their rosters like no QA people, Business analysts, etc. Then just go in ready to demonstrate a problem they are facing and how I could fix it by filling said gap. – RualStorge Jan 2 '15 at 22:29
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It needs to be unique and reflect you and your aspirations. The format should be that of a professional business letter and should avoid any form of humor or profanity. The use of any business letter template should be fine as there is no fixed format that you have to use. If you company has a specific business letter format however use that.

You need to write clearly and concisely and show how you are going to be a success within the new position. Ensure that you cover all of the points mentioned in the section above; but do not write more than a paragraph for each section unless there is a real need to write more. Long letters tend to be skimmed or not read at all.

You can use the following template to help guide you to create your Cover Letter.

Dear Mr. or Ms. Last Name,

I would like to formally apply for the a Position in the Following Department. As you may have been made aware, I have been working doing the following work for said amount of time.

Since then I have held positions where I have gained skills that will allow me to contribute to the company on a wide scale. I have worked on the following projects that show I can bring knowledge and experiance to the Company.

I have a demonstrated ability to work collegially with leaders across business units and lines of business. In addition, I have been responsible for various tasks and staff where I have had to do the following job roles to maintain the high standards expected.

These are just a few examples of my accomplishments. I hope that you will find that this brief view, in combination with the attached resume, describe a dedicated employee of ABCD with the experience and skills to meet or exceed the requirements of the position of This Job.

I appreciate your consideration and look forward to discussing this opportunity with you at your convenience.

Best Regards,

Your Name

  • Thanks for this insight. I am not currently inside the company but your template provides some concrete structure around that I can begin working with. – Irwin May 21 '13 at 18:10
  • @irwin I have made the changes to reflect this. Don't know where I thought it was internal sorry. One of those nights.. – Michael Grubey May 21 '13 at 19:34
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    I've had someone else I've talked to for advice mention that going the very formal route seems unnatural and that instead I should make the initial contact more conversational. Thoughts? – Irwin May 22 '13 at 1:00
  • @Irwin, I agree with your friend, but it really depends on the location. Even if the word "experiance" was spelled correctly. In Silicon Valley, the formal nature of this letter would imply you're a foreigner who has not yet adapted to the local culture yet. – Stephan Branczyk Oct 5 '15 at 0:46
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If you're truly driven to work at that firm, consider using your UX/HCI expertise to create an in-depth usability analysis of or prototype for one small element of their or a major competitor's product, service, app or web page.

Attach a clear and succinct summary of your analysis and recommendations to your cover letter.

It's a significant investment of time, but if your analysis, recommendations and communication are all exceptional, they should convince anyone of your capability.

Of course you'll be able to share this case study with other firms, as well as related Meetups, etc. Good luck!

protected by enderland May 6 '15 at 13:10

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