When a Contact Invites You to Send a Resume

Should you send a cover letter? An informal note? Here's the best way to approach this opportunity.

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Alison Green
What do you do when someone specifically asks you to send in their resume because they might have a job that would be a good fit? Or they want to keep you in mind in case they hear of an open position?

Maybe it’s someone you met at a party, or a friend of a friend, or the guy who just moved in down the street. You’re talking, you mention what you do, and the next thing you know, you’ve been invited to send the person your resume.

[See 8 Things You Should Know About Job References.]

You’re excited, but unsure about the logistics: Do you send a formal cover letter, even though the contact didn’t ask for one? If not, what kind of note do you send? Will the contact even remember asking you for this?

Here’s what you should do:

  • Yes, include a cover letter. However, because you know this person—or at least talked with them, however briefly—and they invited you to send your resume, the cover letter should be a bit less formal than if you were reaching out cold. Your letter should open by referring to the conversation you had, then segue into talking about what you do and, ideally, how you might be able to help the company.
  • If a specific job wasn’t mentioned, that’s fine. Just talk about your strengths (and trust that your contact wouldn’t have told you to send a resume if what you do is wildly outside what the company is looking for).
  • You don’t need to sell yourself. You’re simply continuing the dialogue and allowing the conversation to advance to the next step.
  • End by expressing an interest in talking further.
  • The letter doesn’t need to be long. In fact, it’s fine if it’s more of a note than a letter.
  • [For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.]

    Here’s a sample of what your note might look like:

    Hi Meg,

    It was great talking to you at the Millers’ barbecue!

    You asked me to send you my resume, and it’s attached here. As you’ll see, I have a track record of helping companies figure out how they can most effectively use social media, with a particular emphasis on increasing online traffic. Most recently, I helped Acme increase the number of eyeballs on their online properties by 72 percent over a year.

    I took a look at your website and liked what I saw, and I’d love to talk more with you about possibilities for working together.

    Best,

    Jill

    In other words, be conversational and direct. And don’t stress over it too much—your contact already initiated the opening, and you’re simply taking that ball and moving it a bit further down the court.

    Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development. She now teaches other managers how to manage for results.