Making initial contact — the inquiry letter

December 22, 2009 at 3:17 am Leave a comment

Now that journalists are being advised to proactively reach out to employers as hiring improves, an obvious question arises: How should you best make initial contact with someone you don’t know and who you aren’t even sure has an opening? This is similar to the dreaded cold call that salesmen and public relations professionals learn how to make early on in their careers. For job seekers, it’s known as the inquiry letter.

This letter is similar to a cover letter except that you aren’t really applying for a specific job and you are sending it uninvited to the contact. Before sending an inquiry letter, you should research the company and come to the conclusion that they are likely to be hiring soon. And if you’re fortunate, you may have gotten their attention before they run an ad for the world to see, and will contact you before others. At the very least, you may have impressed them enough to keep your resume on file for future openings. Most recruiters and hiring managers like to help people when they can — keep this in mind.

While you want to impress, remember that you are contacting someone who owes you nothing, so be careful. Give them a reason to want to get back to you and above all, don’t be a nuisance. Experts offer the following tips for crafting an inquiry letter:

*After having carefully researched the company, note in your letter how your skills and experience match the positions described on their Web site or in other materials. Be specific and confident about your skill match, but don’t overreach. Mention people at the company you may know — and obviously, if you can get them to mention you, that’s always best — or work you may have done in their field.

*Especially for journalists, make sure you have the correct spelling of the name and the correct title for the individual you’re trying to contact, and be careful about other critical facts involving the company. Nothing will kill your chances of making a connection more quickly than making errors right off.

*Introduce yourself in a friendly and conversational manner and explain why you are writing. Give them some interesting facts about yourself — you want to keep their attention.

*Politely request to be in touch further through a phone call or an informational interview. Tell them you know how busy they are and that you’ll meet them at their convenience. Don’t ask about a specific opening, just indicate your interest in working for the company. Given your skills and experience, they will know whether they expect to have a position that could be a good fit.

*Attach your resume and a few writing or editing samples — don’t overwhelm them on the first outing. And organize the attachments well so that you’re not making them do a lot of work to view your materials.

*Follow up if you haven’t heard from the hiring manager in a few weeks. But don’t bug them — a pet peeve of recruiters and managers is nuisance applicants for jobs they’re not even filling yet.

*Another area where journalists are finding jobs — tailor-made for D.C. — is think tanks. From via Michael Calderone’s  on Media column at POLITICO:

Think tanks hiring more journalists.

*As always, some job leads to pursue — today a mix of communications and operations positions that might interest journalists in transition:

*The hat tip on the next opening is, which lists an opening for a communications specialist at the U.S. Green Building Council in D.C.:

The U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, DC-based national nonprofit organization of over 18,000 corporate and organizational members from every sector of the building industry united to transform the building marketplace to sustainability, is seeking a dynamic and multi-faceted communications professional to serve as a Communications Specialist and provide dedicated account executive support for the marketing and communications needs of the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). This mid-level communications role will be responsible for overseeing, planning and executing GBCI’s marketing and communications plan, which includes marketing project management.

The Communications Specialist will ensure the quality of media materials, serve as the client’s main media contact, review marketing collateral, track deadlines and budget, develop articles and copy for outreach and marketing efforts, oversee and develops strategies to enhance public image, identifying key message, oversees production of internal and external materials such as brochures, press releases, web copy, newsletters, presentations, etc.

Tasks include needs assessments, stakeholder briefings, marketing & communications planning (Web site, marketing collateral, conferences, PR, media, advertising, message development, audience identification, etc.), budgeting, budget tracking, plan execution, meeting follow-up and deadline tracking.

The ideal candidate will have solid strategic thinking and planning skills, insightful judgment, innovative problem-solving ability and be able to coordinate with diverse internal business partners. This individual must also have exemplary communications skill.


  • Drafting a strategic marketing & communications plan
  • Message development
  • Writing for various channels including Web site, marketing materials, newsletter and articles
  • Marketing project management
  • Budget planning and tracking


  • Maintain the image of USGBC in the marketplace
  • Effectively communicate USGBC’s messages to varying audiences
  • Promote USGBC programs and products to support fiscal growth for the Council through various forms of marketing/communications


  • Bachelor’s degree journalism, communications, public relations or related field preferred


  • Minimum 3 years experience in a communications related field of work.


  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Strong project management and organizational skills.
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to anticipate issues and develop solutions.
  • Competent in use of Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Competence in InDesign and other marketing design software a plus.
  • Commitment to USGBC mission.

Application Instructions:

Compensation includes an excellent benefits package, including 100% employer-paid premiums on healthcare and employer-matching 401(k) program. Please submit resume and letter of interest, with salary requirements and title of position applying for, via email to or fax to 202-478-5046, attn: Human Resources. Please indicate where you saw the posting for this opportunity. No phone calls please.

*For the techies among us, the American Institute of Architects in D.C. needs a director of Web portfolio management:

Director, Web Portfolio Management

The American Institute of Architects

This is a professional position on the Web & Technology Governance and Partnerships team. The incumbent reports to the Managing Director, Web & Technology Governance and Partnerships and is responsible for all aspects of the AIA’s online advertising and multimedia portfolio.

Job Duties:

    • o Including methodology on how to effectively leverage AIA social media presence.
      o Work with business partners to fulfill their online advertising orders.

      o Develop and manage the advertising inventory and schedule

      o Provide leadership to staff that support the operation and maintenance of the technology platform.

      o Investigating emerging web trends and solution providers

      o Work with AIA leadership to identify key business needs that could be supported by the Web Portfolio

  • * Ownership of the AIA’s online advertising and multimedia web products, partnerships and processes including executing and overseeing related strategies.

    * Develop and manage the Web Portfolio inventory and roadmap

    * Provide direction and expertise to mature AIA’s web portfolio and monetization opportunities via the web to maximize revenue and impact.

    * Responsible for the management and execution of AIA online advertising products

    * Work with business development team to educate potential partners on the benefits of working with the AIA.

    * Responsible for managing all aspects of new technology implementations that support the Web Portfolio

    * Leads effort to enhance and diversify the AIA’s web presence

    * Author processes that govern the use and access to the AIA’s Web Portfolio

    * Develop and Manage a Web Portfolio SharePoint site for communication and information dissemination.

    Excellent understanding of web technology and ability to manage all aspects of the product, revenue, and technology lifecycle.

    Outstanding written/oral communication skills and organizational skills.  Proficiency in the use of Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook, as well as familiarity with web-based research and information dissemination applications.  Ability to coordinate a diverse resource pool, to interact effectively in an individual membership environment, analyzes issues and concepts to correctly state a problem and develop recommended solutions.

    Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Liberal Arts, Business or related field with five or more years’ experience leading web product management activities, including experience with the web advertising market and technologies. Experience with managing strategy, monetization of websites and products and meeting revenue goals and projections.

    Supervisory Requirements:


  • Date Posted:


  • Career Level:

    Experienced (Non-Manager)

  • Education:


  • Job Function:

    Web Development / Design

  • Job Status:


  • Industry:

    High Tech / IT, Associations

  • Job Division:

    Web Governance

  • Job Code:


  • Contact Information:

    Fax: 202-626-7476

*CureSearch in Bethesda is looking for a vice president of communications:

CureSearch, National Childhood Cancer Foundation is dedicated to raising private funds for childhood cancer research for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the world’s largest cooperative cancer research organization.​ Together, we are committed to conquering childhood cancer through scientific discovery and compassionate care.​ The COG is a network of more than 5,000 physicians, nurses, and scientists whose collaboration, research and care have turned childhood cancer from a virtually incurable disease to one with an overall 78%​ cure rate.

In addition to a meaningful cause and professional work environment, we offer excellent benefits (medical, dental, vision, 403B with match).​  Salary is negotiable.​  For more information, please visit:  www.​curesearch.​org.​  For immediate consideration, please submit your resume/​CV with cover letter to HR-BC2@​curesearch.​org or via Monster.

We are seeking a Vice President of Communications who is responsible for the creation and implementation of a strategic, multi-faceted communications program designed to build and strengthen the organization’s role and reputation as a leader and authoritative voice in the industry.​  He/​she will devise program guidelines and policies, oversee the implementation process, and provide quality control for communications programs, media activities, and publicity for special events.

Responsibilities and Duties

Communications Planning

· Develop a strategic communications plan to support the organization’s mission, goals and objectives.

*And last but certainly not least, an email correspondent is seeking to fill an opening at a D.C.-based non-profit  organization for a communications manager to head up its media and outreach efforts. Responsibilities would include: raising the group’s profile, marketing and distributing its projects, and increasing its impact. Candidates should have a minimum of three years of experience in media, organizing or public relations, and a demonstrated fluency with social/viral media and online marketing and distribution techniques. The annual salary is $55,000. Those interested can contact me (here or on Facebook or LinkedIn, or at and I will connect you with this hiring manager.

Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

How to take advantage of 2010 hiring plans When to consider relocating for a job

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