A cover letter is a crucial tool for job applications: It is a writing sample, a professional missive and a personal introduction rolled into one. When you are writing a cold-contact cover letter, where a company has not posted a position, your letter carries even more importance. In only a few paragraphs, you must pique the employer's interest enough to prompt her to call you for an interview or keep you in mind for future positions.
Address the letter to a specific person in the company. Look on the company website or call the office to find out who is in charge of hiring, and send the letter directly to that person. You can also send your resume to the head of a department who is more likely to be impressed by your credentials; if the person is interested, he may send it on to the human resources department or the appropriate manager.
Explain why you are writing. Without a specific job advertisement to reference, your opening sentence must provide the letter's recipient with a compelling reason to continue reading. You can mention a particular skill or aspect of your professional experience and relate it to the company's needs or business goals, for example, or mention a personal connection to the industry.
State your request or intent in the second sentence of the first paragraph. Use the sentence to explain that you want to join the organisation in a particular department or a new position. If you are qualified for multiple positions, include a short list to get the employer thinking about the possibilities in relation to her business needs.
Write a paragraph that explains why the company should be interested in you. In three to five sentences, provide a quick overview of your qualifications, education and experience. Use a short anecdote that gives the employer a solid example of your outstanding skills; choose a story that will be memorable because of unusual results, innovative thinking or a surprising solution. Refer the reader to your resume for more information.
Ask to be considered for any open positions and promise to follow up on your initial contact. Choose a date that is one to two weeks from the day the employer will receive the letter, and let the recipient know that you will call to discuss employment possibilities. You might also let the reader know that you will be sending further work samples or a link to a portfolio; this lets him know to expect more communication.