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Writing an email that expresses your interest in a job before the company formally posts the position can give you a proverbial leg up on the competition. Because your email is unsolicited, its content must quickly impress the prospective employer. Do some research to gain an understanding of the company and to whom you should write, share how your qualifications would benefit the company and use a professional, personable tone.
Do Your Research
People who have at least a basic understanding of a company often stand out to prospective employers. Before you write your email, spend some time browsing the company's website, reading articles about the company and even seeking out friends or family members who have worked there. Understanding the company's line of business, its mission statement and its likely list of available positions gives you the ability to casually reference these points in your email. Your research also allows you to determine the best person to email, which is better than emailing the company's general email address and hoping your message finds its way to the right person.
Make a Quick Connection
Begin your email by writing "Dear Mr." or "Dear Ms." and the person's surname. Using a generic greeting such as "To whom it may concern" shows that you didn't make the effort to determine the person to whom you should write. Although you can start the body of the email in several ways, a common approach is to immediately develop a connection with the person, such as by saying you heard her speak at a convention or that you've been perusing the company's website and that you think your qualifications would be an asset to the company.
Share Your Qualifications
Devote the next paragraph or two to explain why your employment history, education and personal traits could benefit the organization. Within these sentences, you can showcase your knowledge of the company. For example, you could write, "Part of your mission statement is to provide unparalleled customer service, and I have more than 10 years of experience working closely with customers." Because you're not writing about an advertised position, explain the type of position that interests you and don't talk about how the job could develop your skill set -- make the focus of the email about the benefits you could contribute to the organization.
Your email also isn't a place to write extensively about yourself; a couple of paragraphs are enough to show why the prospective employer should want to contact you for an interview. Maintain a friendly, professional tone throughout the email. Focus on how your qualifications could benefit the company and avoid including personal details, such as your hobbies. Words that can help you convey a professional tone include "conscientious," "expertise" and "qualifications."
Closing and Follow-Up
Wrap up the email by mentioning that you've attached a current resume that highlights your qualifications and lists references that can attest to your attributes. It's acceptable to attach your resume as a Word document or as a PDF; the benefit of the latter is that its format will stay intact. Because some potential employers might be resistant to opening attachments, paste your resume at the bottom of your email or provide an online link to your resume on your personal website or LinkedIn profile.
Express interest in meeting with the prospective employer at his convenience to further discuss your interest in a position and say that you'll follow up with an email or phone call at a later date. Also explain the best way to reach you and list your phone number. Close the email with a cordial term such as "Thank you for your time" or "Best regards," and then write your name. The email shouldn't exceed one page if printed. Improve your chances of your email staying out of the prospective employer's spam box by sending emails one at a time, rather than in bulk, and by using plain text instead of HTML.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.