7 Tips for Writing Cold Emails to Prospective Employers
If you want to cold email employers, writing the perfect message can be something of a balancing act. On the one hand, you want to make your application stand out from the many others that they’re receiving. But on the other, you don’t want to come across as unprofessional or fake.
You want to be right there in the middle – that’s where the magic of cold emailing happens. Despite the gray area that sometimes surrounds cold email, it is still one of the most effective ways to get the job you want. But to write an effective cold email for a job, you must have a genuinely upbeat and confident attitude that’s hard to fake. The only way to achieve this is by knowing what you’re doing.
There are plenty of tips on how to reach out and how often. While important, that’s not the focus of this article. Instead, we’ll be zeroing in on the very first message you use to cold email employers.
Why? Because most hiring managers will notice promising candidates and even grant interviews based solely on that first email. That initial contact could be the only chance you get to make a killer first impression on a prospective employer.
It can give you an invaluable opportunity to showcase your strong professional, research, and communication skills all in one go – if know how to cold email. It could be the key that opens amazing doors for you or gets you sent straight to the trash or spam folder.
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Tips for Writing Cold Emails
A lot of people struggle with the idea of emailing people they don’t know for a job or anything else. Of course, the first step of any job hunt should be to reach out to your existing network. But many times, this approach can only get you so far.
Sometimes, you will have to send a couple of emails to people who work in companies that your network just doesn’t cover. Cold email can open up your job prospects by giving you access to opportunities you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Generally, the main aim of any cold outreach email is to set up a meeting with the relevant hiring manager. It is up to you to find the right person to email. In this case, this will be someone who can help you get your foot in the door.
But in spite of all its benefits, sending cold emails that work can be a tricky prospect. Not only do you have to find the right person to reach out to, but you also have to figure out what will make your contact want to respond.
The latter goal is much harder to achieve than most people realize. A recent study that sampled more than 2,600 hiring managers gives some valuable insights into this. The research shows that more than 45 percent of hiring managers spend less than one minute on reviewing any application.
With statistics like that, it’s no wonder that many job seekers try to find creative ways to cold email employers. But without following the tips below, your attempts to distinguish yourself will do more harm than good.
So, before sending any cold outreach email, here are seven proven tips to help you write better cold emails:
1. Know the Person You’re Emailing
Everyone who has ever gone through the job search process has heard a version of this one: always research the company you want to work for. This research aspect becomes even more important when it comes to cold email for job.
The first step before sending unsolicited email is to find out everything you can about the company. Discover their mission, goals, the problem it is trying to solve, and who their clients are.
Make sure that you dig deep and find some interesting facts. This information will guide how you write cold emails that work. While you shouldn’t try and force anything, your message should show that you know the company. This is a casual, clever way to get the hiring manager to notice your cold email.
It is also a good idea to look at company review websites to learn all about its values and corporate culture. This will be very helpful in showing you whether the company is the right place for you. Then, use this to let the company know how your specific skills and qualifications could make you a great fit there.
Before sending any cold email to employers, you should also do your research on the person you’re emailing. Start your search on the company website. Many small companies usually list the names and roles of all their members of staff. In this case, it will be very easy to find someone in the relevant position very quickly.
But if you’re thinking about applying to a larger company, you may have to break out the big guns. LinkedIn has grown to become one of the best resources for this kind of thing. Just search for the company’s profile page and scroll through the list of all its current employees. You could also run a simple search on any search engine to find all indexed documents relating to that position.
That said, it is important to note that these searches will most likely give you a list of the relevant names only. But what you need is the right contact person as well as their email address.
We already know that sending cold email for a job via the company’s generic email address (such as firstname.lastname@example.org) or the career page on their website is a bad idea. Most times, those emails don’t get to the intended recipient and they won’t help you get a job. Doing this is like throwing all your career prospects into a digital black hole and hoping for the best!
Instead, it is much better to use an email lookup tool like RooJet to find the hiring manager’s email. RooJet helps you find all the email addresses on a specific domain and allows you to add these to your cold email campaign with just one click. You can also automate your follow up efforts and get up-to-date analytic reports to help you gauge the success of your email outreach.
Before you cold email employers, it is also important to know everything you can about the hiring manager that you’ve identified. At the very minimum, you should know their name, job title, responsibilities at the company, and a bit about their background.
But most importantly, find something that you have in common. For example, do you both like sports or old, campy movies? Are you fans of indie bands and obscure musicals? Or, it could be something as simple as coming from the same town or having a mutual contact.
Whatever the case, such a connection could give you an in with the hiring manager and increase your chances of getting a reply.
2. Use a Specific Subject Line
If you are cold emailing a recruiter or hiring manager, it is very likely that they get a ton of other cold emails every day. This means that they are too busy to be bothered with messages that don’t grab their attention right from the start.
That’s why you should pay as much attention when crafting your subject lines as you do the rest of the email.
Think of your cold email subject line as the headline of your whole message. A lot of times, people decide whether or not to open and read your emails based just on the subject line. So it is important to spend as much time as possible making it interesting and informative. It should also be specific enough to give a true preview of what to expect from the rest of your message.
A subject line for email asking for a job should also be optimized to a specific prospect. That’s what ensures that it will be relevant to them, as well as provide value. This is the only way to ensure that the recipient will find it interesting enough to spend more time on your message.
3. Get Straight to the Point
When cold emailing, keep in mind that no one will pay attention to or read a very long message. It might be really tempting to try and pack in a lot of details into that first email. After all, who knows if you’ll get the chance to communicate with that hiring manager again?
But this approach is not going to make your cold email effective. Recruiters want to skim through a message and immediately see what you want from them. Are you applying for a particular job, or asking for an informational interview? Whatever the case, your end-game should be clear right from the first paragraph.
A better way to do this is to break your email into bite-sized portions that each communicates one important point. When it makes sense, you can also use bullets to highlight vital details.
4. Show Your Passion
A lot of the advice that is available about cold email makes it seem like such a boring, formal affair that should be approached in a strictly professional manner. While that may have been the case decades ago, expectations in the workplace have changed over the years.
That’s not to say that you should be disrespectful or overly-familiar! But it has been proven that the best cold emails are those that help you relate to a prospect on a personal level. Simply put, your cold email shouldn’t sound too generic. Nor should it make you come across as some kind of stiff automaton.
Instead, try to make your message as “human” and relatable as possible. Just like the first few minutes of an interview, a cold email will form the first impression a hiring manager will have of you. You wouldn’t go into an interview spouting all the big words and technical jargon you know, would you? So, cold email employers in the same way.
It is also a good idea to show the hiring manager how strongly you feel about your field of work. If you’re passionate about working in the industry, don’t hesitate to show it! Or, if you’re a fan of a potential employer and their company, let them know. Showing your enthusiasm for the job is a great way of showing your personality without coming on too strong.
5. Show Your Past Work
If the hiring manager knows that you’re serious about going after new career prospects, then you’re more likely to get a response. And the best way to do this is by showing them samples of your previous work.
Not only does this move show that you respect the recruiter’s time (since you’re not giving them the extra work to look into your background), it also shows them why you’re the best person for the job. Hiring managers want to make the recruitment process as quick and effective as possible. By showing them the work you have already done, it gives them a good idea if you have any relevant experience for the job.
So use your cold email to send along relevant samples of your work. A link to your up-to-date website or online portfolio should also be enough for most recruiters. But this is only true if your samples are done professionally.
Also, keep in mind that the goal here is to sell your strengths. So tailor your samples to a particular position to show the most relevant examples first. Even if you have recently completed a great project but it has nothing to do with the job you’re applying for, don’t include it in your cold email.
It is also a great idea to give the recruiter enough information to get them interested, but not so much that they’ll stop reading your cold emails halfway through.
6. Proofread Your Message
A recent survey of 2,999 hiring managers focused on identifying the most common mistakes job hunters make that are hurting their chances of success. Of these, 58 percent of hiring managers said that they would dismiss candidates who have typos and spelling mistakes in their resumes.
If that isn’t enough incentive to proofread your cold emails before sending them, we don’t know what is!
Keep in mind that there is more pressure on a cold email, simply because it will be scrutinized even more than an ordinary one. So it’s up to you to ensure that it is flawless. To do this, take your time proofreading the copy to weed out any typos, grammatical mistakes, or sloppy writing.
7. Follow Up in the Right Way
More often than not, you won’t immediately hear back from the hiring manager after sending that first cold email. Regardless of how relevant, well-crafted, or informative it is, getting a prompt response is almost akin to spotting a unicorn in the forest.
But most people make the mistake of giving up at this stage. They think that not hearing back means that the hiring manager has rejected their application. Needless to say, that usually isn’t the case.
Most people involved in HR are usually quite busy with many – often competing – priorities. Sometimes, a lack of reply simply means that you have to send a follow-up email.
This is a great way to remind the recipient about your email and request. But you should take care that you don’t come across as pushy or like you feel that you’re entitled to a response – because you’re not.
Instead, wait for at least 48 hours after sending the first email. If you don’t get a reply within that time, you can send out the first follow-up email. You can find more information about how often to send these messages here.
Remember, the main goal of any follow-up email is to push your original message to the top of the recipient’s inbox. So it’s important to send all emails on the same thread as the original one. Also, ask them if they need any more information or clarification on any points.
Cold Email for Job Best Practices
Writing a great cold email for a job that gets responses doesn’t have to be the long, stressful process most people make it out to be. Just keep these six best practices in mind to make your work easier:
1. Make Cold Leads Warmer
One of the main reasons why many cold emails fail is that people approach the whole process in the wrong way. Instead of focusing on building a solid relationship first, they go right into the ask. Unfortunately, this only makes you look insincere – and no cold lead responds to that.
Fortunately, social media has created a great way to warm up cold leads. Simply follow the hiring manager and/or their company on a relevant platform, and then find a way to make a great impression. That way, when you do cold email employers, it won’t be the first time they’re seeing your name.
2. Watch your Tone
The worst thing you can do for your prospects at a company is to come across as entitled or demanding. Make sure that you keep this in mind because, when it comes to email, it is very easy to get your tone wrong. Generally, online communication – like email – is prone to misunderstandings that can cost you a shot at a great job.
Do your best to maintain a professional tone in all your cold emails. While it’s okay to keep it light-hearted and relatable, it won’t do you any favors to come off as a joker. This just shows that you’re not serious about advancing your career. That’s a fine line to walk, but it is incredibly important to maintain the distinction. You can also use professional email samples to increase your chances of success.
3. Avoid copy-pasting your Resume
Even if you’re applying for various positions in different companies, it is vital to tailor each cold email to a specific job listing and company.
The more you focus on a positions specific needs and how your skills make you the best fit to deal with them, the more likely that your message will be read and get a response.
So, avoid copy-pasting your resume and cover letter for every job opportunity. Tailor your messages to show your strengths and prove your suitability for each position.
4. Pay Attention to the Copy
Many job seekers mess up and make a bad first impression by failing to pay attention to their email copy. The only way to cold email employers and impress them is by making sure that your cold email is well-written and to-the-point.
It is also important to show that you are articulate and able to put your thoughts across well. Otherwise, it will just look like you don’t pay attention to detail – which is something no hiring manager wants to deal with!
5. Send your Cold Email as soon as a Job Listing Goes Up
Remember, the sooner you get your application in, the better it is for you in the long run. Your goal should always be to send the relevant cold email within 72 hours of the listing going up. If you wait any longer, the hiring manager will get so overwhelmed with other applications that they might not even get to yours.
6. Make it Fun!
The sad truth about working life is that most people can get bored out of their minds with the boring, repetitive daily tasks. So, if you can add some spark to your cold email, then you’ll make an awesome first impression.
You can do this by injecting some humor into your message. But make sure to still keep it professional!
The Final Word
On its own, a cold email for a job won’t be enough to fully show your potential value to a particular company. But it is a great way to get your foot in the door. Cold emailing can open you up to opportunities for meetings or even interviews that will hopefully lead to your dream job.
But how you cold email employers is also important. Keep in mind that a cold email will form the basis of a hiring manager’s first impression of you. It acts as a candid illustration of who you are, and what kind of employee you could be. If done wrong, this virtual handshake can kill any prospects you might have had at a company.
These tips and best practices offer you the best shot at getting this crucial first impression right. The key lies in persistence, constant follow-up, and letting your genuine enthusiasm shine through. This backed by a highly personalized cold email will get hiring managers reaching out to you in no time.