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What Is a Letter of Inquiry?
Sending a letter of inquiry is like casting a fishing line to a potential employer using your impeccable qualifications as bait with the hope that the employer will take a bite and offer you a job. Although you may feel like you are fishing in an empty pond because the employer has not formally advertised a position, your letter of inquiry can at least keep you in the loop in case a position does open up later.
In a tough labor market when few jobs are being advertised, writing a letter of inquiry may be your only way to make contact with an employer. But can this fishing expedition really lead to an interview or job offer? Perhaps, if your letter of inquiry contains the right bait to reel in their attention.
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Knowledge-Based Ideas for Writing a Letter of Inquiry
To write an eye-opening letter of inquiry, try incorporating one of these ideas based on a strong theme that conveys an aspect of your special knowledge, expertise, personality, or values.
1. Tout the business's successes and express your strong desire to be part of the winning team. If the business is a public company, read their annual and quarterly reports or look at their balanced scorecards and then quote from them on why you are impressed with the company and convey why you want to work for them. But don't just regurgitate facts from the executive summary, dig deeper into how the business got from point A to point B.
2. Empathize with the business's challenges and tell them how your talents can help. With success there always comes challenges and risks. Turning to the annual report is also a good source for learning about the business's challenges from its competition and sluggish economy. Here is your opportunity to show the firm that you understand these challenges and can help them navigate the choppy waters. For instance, in your letter mention how the great recession has shied away consumers and that companies are going need an incredible sales force to bring them back. Sell them on your abilities to find and work with demanding clients.
3. Offer free opinions and suggestions about their products and services. Relate your own experiences in using their products or tap into family and friends and get them to share their thoughts. Hopefully, the business will take notice of your perceptiveness and connections. Just remember to add details to show that you have thoroughly reviewed the product or service. Businesses love feedback from their customers and will appreciate your insights.
4. Impress them with your social media skills. Become a fan of the company and closely follow them on (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Linkedin, etc) for a few months. Engage in the website and then, in your letter, mention how you have been following them and comment on your observations.
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Storytelling Ideas for Writing a Letter of Inquiry
The only true way to stand out from the crowd is to tell your story while expressing your values, goals and passion. Studies show that people remember more when information is conveyed through the fine art of storytelling.
5. Tell a story that conveys your values. Values are what set people apart. While experience may get you in the front door, your values will be keep you inside longer as a new hiree. Start with a treasured value such as commitment, determination, selflessness, tell why it is important to you, and then recount a story of how you held onto these values during a challenging time.
6. Recall why you chose your career with a touching story. Take an everyday moment such as watching your son or daughter playing with their Legos and then describe having a flashback to your own childhood when you discovered that you wanted to become an engineer/builder/contractor while playing with your own set of Legos. Follow this opener by describing how you made your childhood ambition become a reality.
7. Tell an inspirational or humorous story. As the expression goes, "always leave them laughing" and they will remember you. The same is true about telling an inspirational story that stirs emotions that will last well after the employer has put your letter aside.
For a few storytelling ideas to get you started take a look at this website which is full of amazing business stories and analogies and as well as this happy news blog dedicated to reporting positive and compelling stories.
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Final Ideas for Writing the Letter of Inquiry - Adding the Finishing Touches
Businesses want creative individuals who can think outside of the box to drive the engines of innovation that will give companies a competitive edge. Here are some ways to show off your creative side by being your own marketing or graphics designer.
8. Use business metaphors, buzzwords, or quotes. Interweaving a few business buzzwords or quotations in your letter is a good way to communicate your breadth of knowledge of the field. Similarly, try to use a metaphor to describe your special qualifications or career path. For example, compare your work experiences to white water rafting – challenging, fast-paced and full of twists and turns or compare yourself to a marathon runner – able to go the distance, to stay on course, and to sprint to the finish.
9. Incorporate an image. Whereas a metaphor uses language to create a lasting impression, an image will add color and dimension to your letter of inquiry while expressing your individuality.
10. Add a fun font or formal script. Choose a style that reflects your personality or is related to the business or location you are targeting. For example, if the job you are applying for is in New York, these popular New York fonts may add just the right touch when trying to make a lasting impression in a "New York minute."
With these 10 writing tips in hand, you can now begin writing your letter of inquiry that will fully engage the reader and leave them with a positive impression of you and your qualifications.
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Hansen, K., & Ph.D.. (n.d.). Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers. Quintessential Careers: College, Careers, and Jobs Guide. Retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://www.quintcareers.com/Storytelling_that_Propels_Careers
- Fishing Rod by Cooee/Morguefile.com
- Bookworm at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Women_g57-Bookworm_p9678.html