Referred and Unsolicited Resumes: What they are and when to use them

When marketing your resume directly to hiring authorities at your target companies, you will include a resume that is appropriately formatted to suit the circumstances. Generally speaking, these are either referred or unsolicited resumes.

Referred Resume: When you are referred by an employee or professional contact

An estimated 19% of candidates who apply directly to a hiring manager receive and offer, but surprisingly few job seekers use this strategy. Having an employee referral behind your application significantly increases your odds.

Referred resumes are sent directly to HR/Talent Management personnel or a hiring manager regarding a specific job to which you were referred by an employee or mutual professional contact. The stakes are higher for a referrer, especially with hiring managers, so getting their permission to name drop is critical. Send only if you are a great fit for the job and your tailored resume clearly demonstrates that fit.

The referred resume is a targeted elevator pitch. Include the referrer’s name in the email subject and first sentence of the message, why you are interested in the company and position, what you have accomplished in similar roles, and how you can directly address the hiring manager’s needs and deliver success. Keep it short with just a few bullet points.

Unsolicited Resume: When you are cold marketing without an employee or professional contact referral

Email hiring managers and HR/Talent Management personnel directly to market your unsolicited resume for current and potential job openings, respectively. Unsolicited resumes have a high open rate at smaller companies that lack the budget for high-dollar hiring tools and third-party recruiters.

General interest: Your letter to HR will be a general elevator pitch. Include why you are interested in the company, what you have accomplished, and how you can deliver success for the organization. Keep it short and sweet with 3-5 bullet points.

Specific position: Your letter to HR or a hiring manager will be a very specific elevator pitch that succinctly outlines how your experience and accomplishments directly address the position’s needs. Your resume should be tailored to showcase relevant experience that is requested in the job posting.

Will you end up in a candidate pipeline or be blocked as spam? That’s up to you, so market wisely.

Before sending an unsolicited resume:
– Are you from the company’s general industry?
– Do you possess expertise that can address their problems/needs?

Before sending a referred resume:
– Are you a fit for the company, industry, and referred job?
– Did you tailor your resume to the job description?

Keep a running list of which resume versions you have submitted to job postings, through networking, and via email and make sure to take appropriate copies to interviews. Out opportunity trackers can help with that. The Balance Careers has an outstanding collection of free resume cover letter, networking letter, and resume submission letter templates. Remember to keep all electronic correspondence brief and value-driven.