An unsolicited job application: pros and cons

Before we discuss the so-called unsolicited or spontaneous job application and cover letter, it should be made clear that this type of application is only suitable for specific situations. When you take this approach you are sending a letter to a company that did not actually invite applications: there is no actual vacancy. Nevertheless, many companies are quite open to this approach. It does require a slightly different tactic than a regular job application, however. We will now discuss this special phenomenon in more detail.

What is an unsolicited application letter?

Job application letters and the attendant CVs are often the reason for an employer to invite you (or not) for a personal interview. Such a meeting may then lead to a new job, if the seeker and the employer find each other in the right way. In most cases these connections are effected via the mechanism of a job vacancy and a job application in response to this vacancy. But not always: some job seekers decide to send an unsolicited application letter to an organisation. With this kind of letter you are not applying for a specific role but you are in effect simply sending a letter to a company listing your qualities and skills.  

Why send this type of application letter?

Waste of effort? Not really. After all there is always a chance that you are exactly the kind of person the company is looking for – or that your qualities are exactly those qualities lacking in the organisation to this point. In general, therefore, this type of spontaneous job application is usually sent to a company that the writer really wants to work for. A letter asking for a dream job, you could say. What’s more, it can’t hurt to try.

What should this type of letter contain?

This type of letter follows the same conventions as the regular job application letter does. This includes the following elements:

  • Your address
  • The address of the receiver
  • Location and date
  • Reference line
  • Salutation

The body of the letter contains these parts:

  • The opening sentence
  • A paragraph about yourself
  • A paragraph about your skills
  • A paragraph about your motivation
  • A suitable closing line

Below this should be:

  • Signature
  • Any additional comments

Properties of an unsolicited application letter

Because you are not applying to an existing job ad, a number of elements are of special importance. You must show clearly in your arguments that your skills offer a real added value to the company. In a manner of speaking you must imply that the organisation can truly not survive without your working contribution. What’s more, sending this kind of letter requires a certain level of courage. You shouldn’t bluff, but it won’t do any harm to assume a slightly more confident attitude than would be wise in the case of a regular application. Use appealing language. Avoid words such as ‘could’ or ‘may’ as these imply lack of certainty. Finally, make use of all attributes listed above in a subtle manner. Your letter should not be a big ego-document: all employers appreciate realism and honesty.

Unsolicited application, yes or no?

Deciding if an unsolicited application is quite your style is a matter of personal choice. If you know of a company where you would really love to work, it could very well be worth your while to send them an unsolicited application. 


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