An Unconventional Approach to the Job Search: Sending Letters of Introduction (LOI)

Unconventional_LOI
 
It’s happened to all of us. We spend hours on the web applying to jobs, day in and day out, and receive no response. At some point, we start to feel like we’ll never get anywhere and long for the days of face-to-face interaction. The digital world can make looking for a job a lonely process.

Changing up how we go about the job search is sometimes necessary to renew our zeal. Maybe, switch to using social media to find a job. Maybe grow your professional brand for a while and put the job search down.

Or, you could try a completely unconventional method that is growing in popularity within the marketplace: the Letter of Introduction or LOI. Once reserved for the freelance community, the LOI could prove a useful tool in your job search efforts.

When to use an LOI

Not all scenarios are appropriate to use an LOI. Use the following scenarios to stay within LOI best practices:

  • When you have a contact person- when you know someone at the company you’re interested in applying to, or when you’ve met someone through marketing, sending a short LOI is acceptable. It will help keep your name in the forefront of that person’s mind. You can ask them to send your LOI to the appropriate party, or you can reach out to them and ask for contact information for a hiring manager so you can send the LOI directly to that person.
  • When you pitch a newer company– many newer companies are open to receiving these letters of inquiry. In fact, an LOI rather than a standard application oftentimes sets candidates apart in this scenario. Millennial-operated establishments, tech companies, and several other progressive industries are generally open to receiving LOIs.
  • When the company has a “pitch your dream job” call to action– several sites with an online job page have a link at the end of the page that gives a candidate an open-ended application process. They’ll say something like “pitch your dream job” or “don’t see what you’re looking for? Tell us about yourself.” This means the company is open to learning about how your skills and expertise can enhance their operation. Though they may not have your position listed, they’re open to hearing about why and how you could help their company succeed.
  • When using LinkedIn- since LinkedIn is the professional social media site, it is perfectly acceptable to send a brief LOI to your contacts or using InMail. It is also appropriate to ask your connections to “introduce” you to people on LinkedIn. Let’s say you want to connect with a hiring manager, and you notice someone you’re connected with is connected to that manager. You can ask that person to introduce you to the hiring manager. It’s like a virtual referral.

Why choose this method

  • It’s like a personal introduction– though unconventional; the LOI approach is like a digital handshake. You’re telling someone about yourself and allowing them to decide if they want to proceed with a conversation.
  • You could bypass the dreaded resume pile– reaching out directly to the hiring manager and bypassing the digital application process could mean you bypass the resume pile all together. Progressive industries and companies might be looking for that kind of gusto in a candidate, which automatically sets you apart.

How to craft an LOI

Short and sweet is key. You never want an LOI to exceed one page, and you want to keep it even shorter than that if possible.

  • Intro—have a name. You want to avoid addressing this to “the hiring team” or “department manager.” Do a little research so you have a name.
  • Body—the first paragraph should show you did some research on the company, and you can then transition into how your skills and background can be an asset to the company.
  • Conclusion—here is where you include a call to action. In the freelance world, a call to action is something like “can I write you a test post?” or “can I send you some samples?” You can do the same in the business world. Your call to action can be something like, “Can we set up a time to chat further about your business needs?” or “Can I send you a resume to look over?” Whatever it is, you want to put the ball in their court to incite a response.

The LOI might feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning, but it could be the change you need to re-invigorate your job search. Is this method something you’ll consider trying? Why or why not?

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