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I am a graphic designer with a bachelor's degree and 3 years of professional graphic design experience, and I am currently looking for a graphic design job. I am wondering what is an acceptable way to make first contact with potential employers who do not have any job openings posted?

My current plan is to send an email with a coverletter (both in the email body and in PDF form), my resume, and some samples of my work with explanatory text, all as PDFs. My idea is that most design companies won't want to talk with a prospective designer unless they have seen that their work is up to the company's standards.

However, I have the feeling that cold calling is a more proactive way of contacting potential employers.

So my question is: is it better to make first contact with potential employers via email (where they can see my work) or by phone (shows more initiative)?

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I've been out of searching mode for a while, but... if you are looking for FT GD work, why are you cold-contacting employers who don't have a job listed? When we got unsolicited portfolios, they were trashed or filed without response, because we didn't have an opening to fill. – Lauren Ipsum Feb 16 '12 at 11:39
I think it's actually pretty common when job hunting for people to drop off applications or call/visit places that haven't explicitly announced a job opening. Sure, go through the classifieds first, but a lot of businesses looking to fill positions won't necessarily have a dedicated openings list on their site or necessarily have an ad in the classifieds you've checked. Also, many companies are always on the lookout for good talent, even if they're not actively recruiting. So it's just due diligence to check just in case. – Lèse majesté Feb 17 '12 at 0:52

Quite honestly... direct (snail) mail. A nice promotional package mailed to the Creative Director or Art Director.

Phone calls show laziness.

Emails will be seen purely as spam (unsolicited advertisements).

A physical package delivered via mail shows interest, effort, direct attention, and a bit of research in the company (provided it's addressed to the appropriate person).

Just my 2¢.

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