Writing Individually Targeted Letters

Top managers and CEOs are always on the look-out for good people to employ (either now or in the future) and will take time to see interesting looking people, who convey clearly what they can do.

Letter Structure & Content - ONE PAGE ONLY
You are writing to a particular organisation because you want to work for it. You should write, by name, to the CEO, MD or head of discipline, eg sales director, someone preferably two levels of management above your hoped for level. The reason for going two levels up is simply to get to a level where the viewpoint may be wider.

Do not write to HR/personnel (unless that is the area in which you want to work). They are frequently the last part of the organisation to hear of a need for new people to be employed particular;y at senior levels.

The Letter

Draft an opening paragraph referring to what you believe the company does, and does well, to its style and reputation - a moderately flattering pen picture, especially of those aspects that interest you.
NB Later you will throw away this paragraph in its entirety. (Flattery gets you nowhere, and the person you are writing to will know much more about it, usually, than you.) You write it to provide yourself with a focus for the rest of the letter.

The real letter then starts with what you have to offer:
  • abilities 
  • skills 
  • experience relevant to where you think you can make a contribution to the organisation you have just described. 

Also include, or alternatively start with, a relevant and impressive achievement story. This opening paragraph should aim to grab the reader’s attention and ensure that he/she reads on. You might refer to some current events, which affect the organisation, or to something which you read about it in the press. Remember to focus on benefits you can provide, eg increasing sales, or decreasing costs, specialist skills and knowledge, whatever you have to offer.

Subsequent paragraphs might offer brief concrete evidence of your key strengths in action (one or two achievements) and the suggestion that you have an exploratory meeting to discuss how you could help them either now or in the future.

The purpose of a speculative letter is to get a meeting with a potential employer. It is a specific offer of your expertise to an organisation. If you send out enough of them, a few may arrive at a time when someone is actively considering advertising a job, but has not yet done so, or when expansion plans are under discussion for which additional staff may be needed. However, your letter could arrive two to three months before such a time, so it is important that the meeting you request will address a potential job either now or in the future.

Last Paragraph
Motivating/speculative letters are no substitute for networking. They work only when the writer is reasonably well focused, and they work best when real enthusiasm for the target organisation is evident in the letter. Remember too that they have worked whenever they produce a meeting. They are also very difficult to write. You will usually do better if you get some help from other professionals and listen carefully to any constructive/critical comments.