Cold Emailing a Potential Employer: What Works, What Doesn't

Cold Emailing

Cold emailing, have you tried it? Cold emails are annoying. At least, they can be. Done right, a cold email can help land you the job you've been fantasizing about. Done incorrectly, a cold email may be ignored or, worse, damage your chances of landing an interview.

The Problem With Cold Emailing

  • People Respond Well to Sincerity
    Cold emails are sales pitches, and sales pitches, particularly sales pitches that appear unsolicited and from a stranger, have the ring of cheapness and falsity.

  • People are Busy
    They have little or no time to spend on a stranger asking for a job. Ask anyone in HR - one more cold, clueless cry for help, usually from someone who hasn't bothered to research the job or the company, is hard for them to get excited about.

  • People Get Too Many Emails
    Even if you're team "inbox zero" the number of emails sent everyday can be impossible to get through.

So cold emailing sounds problematic, right? Don't give up. There are extraordinary people to meet, jobs to get, and advice to receive. "It all can be a product of cold emails if you work up the nerve to send them. And really that’s all cold emailing takes - a lot of nerve" says Frances Bridges, a Contributing Writer to Forbes.

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Who Should You Cold Email?

First, network.

Network, network, network. Make a list of people you'd love to be connected to then start on a path to connecting!

Spruce up your LinkedIn account, start tweeting. You should be scouring your connections on social media websites every day. Email people. Chat people up. Visit networking or industry events.

Ideally, you should be making one hundred new contacts per month according to NPR. It's easier than it sounds - once you get some momentum going and start to enjoy meeting new people.

Now that you've made some contacts and you know a guy who knows a guy at that company, the one you fantasize about. Now what?

Cold Emailing: What Should You Say?

You've got this one chance. This is crucial: Your first contact must be memorable and worth reading. Not over-the-top memorable, but articulate, witty, concise, and of course, sincere.

We asked Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder and Strategic Director of Orbit Media Studios for his two cents on sending cold connection requests:

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Everyone who gets every email is trying to make a quick decision. Delete or click? To make the recipient more likely to open and read your cold email, make sure it meets this one key criteria in both the subject and body.
 
 
 
How can you make this happen? Keep the following two tips in mind:

 

1. Brevity

Brevity is your friend Crestodina points out, "Of all the emails ever sent by the Obama campaigns, the subject line 'Hey' performed the best. So try something short, like 'Quick question.' It lets the recipient know that this will be easy to process. And when it comes to the body, get right to the point. The reason you are emailing should be in one of the first two sentences!"
 

2. Be Authentic

Be yourself, be your best self, and find some way to be uniquely yourself, while showing off how much you a) know about the company and b) what a great asset you can be.

You should put a lot of thought into this letter, and then put some more thought into it. Research the company. Read other letters to find inspiration. Avoid cliches. Use creative sentence structures. Complete a few drafts if you need. Use a conversational style that embodies your personality, but makes you sound smart and valuable. Have a friend read it. If you need to, don't be afraid to trash it and start over.

An Example Cold Email

Here's a great template from Forbes.com:

Hi [John Doe],

My name is Frances Bridges, I’m a young freelance journalist from [hometown] who just moved to [current city]. I’ve been reading your work in [enter publication] for awhile now, and was wondering if you have a spare 15 minutes for a new journalist in [current city]? I would love to hear about your journey as a [enter occupation], and any advice you may have regarding [enter occupation] and networking in [enter current city]. If you have some time in the next couple of weeks I’d love to buy you cup of coffee- hope to hear from you.

Best, Frances

The Follow Up

Once you've sent the email, give it a little time. A week is about right. Then follow up. Be gracious in your follow-up emails. Use them as a reason to remind your potential employers of your interest in their work, or pass along a useful update. Maybe you get an interview, or a meeting over coffee. Sometimes, you won't.

If cold emailing doesn't work, don't be disheartened! You simply need more powerful people on your side to crack this nut. Keep scouring social media, career-building websites, and in-person networking events.

Cold Emailing Networking

Know Who Loves to Network?

Know who is great at networking and enjoys doing it? Recruiters! In fact, here are some secrets you can steal from them about networking. We have bunches of them in cities across the US that would love to meet you.

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This is Lauren Ray. She works out of our Denver office and would love to hear from you! Check out her monthly colum "Ask a Recruiter" and submit your tough questions today.

Not in Denver? Pick a different city and talk to a talent representative at Artisan.

 

Why Learn From a Recruiter?

By matching yourself with a representative who understands your abilities and your goals, you may land that job after all, no cold emailing necessary.

Different agencies specialize in different career types, so find the one that's right for you. For example, a good creative talent agency can help if a career in web design, UX design, or highly specialized copywriting is where you're headed (Hint Hint: That's Artisan Talent).

Talent advocates such as the people at Artisan can match candidates with the top employers in their industries, and we often have inside contacts that can get you the placement you want more quickly than you could do it alone. Drop us a line today and we'll get started.

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Editors Note: This post has been revamped from its original version and freshened up for accuracy, timeliness, and to help you get that job.

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Other Posts You Might Like:

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Back to the Basics: Networking

Tags: Career Resources

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