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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 cover letter (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
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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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This really depends if you want a career or gig/freelance project.

If you want a career the better approach would be to research the company and learn about the company. At the time this question was created LinkedIn was in it's early stage of life. Now most companies are highly active on LinkedIn. What I would do is join the company group if you can, look whose what, figure out who the key players are and connect with them. There is no harm in reaching out and communicating with people and asking informing them you're interested in the company and if you can take them to lunch or coffee to discuss your designs. At most you could use that time as a portfolio suggestive review. Learn what type of design style they do, how the generate and you could go back in several months if you stayed connected and show them you're committed. However, if they do not appear to be interested or push back for you to not bug them then I wouldn't pursue that avenue or even the company. This still applies to other routes of social media so make sure to utilize the social media effectively by posting samples of your work or links to your portfolio.

If you're just looking for a job or quick freelance gig. Check out the local Meetups in your area. Some Meetup areas have entrepreneur and my first business groups that allow people to come together and talk. Take a handle full of business cards and make sure your site is up to spec and shows your latest work and you might get a job.

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