Once you’ve learned the skills you need to do a job, there’s still a long way to go in a hiring process. You may have the skills, but now you need to find the right company to work for, reach out to them, and make a good impression.
In the technology industry, the best jobs are competitive, and many positions are filled through personal connections and employee referrals. With that in mind, even if you see a job that seems perfect for you, like as a full-stack web developer with your dream company, you may still fall short.
That’s where cold emails come in. While cold emails have gotten something of a bad wrap over the last few years, they are still a highly effective way of reaching out to companies, especially those to which you have no clear way in to get a job interview.
The trouble with cold emails is that you will need to blindly reach out to someone at a company you wish to work with. As you can imagine, there’s no guarantee that the person to whom you send an email will read what you have written.
To help you maximize your chances for success, we have compiled a list of the top five tips to help you write a cold email for a job. By the end of reading this article, you’ll have all of the information you need to stand out from the crowd.
Tip #1: Find the Right Person to Contact
Contacting the right person can make the difference between your email being opened and your email being deleted as soon as it arrives in the recipient’s inbox.
Before you start writing cold emails, you need to know to whom you should address. This will allow you to focus your attention on the people likely to read your work, who may then respond.
When you’re looking for someone to cold email, you should focus your attention on people who make hiring decisions within an organization. While you may not be certain about whether someone can hire you in some cases, the general rule of thumb to follow is that if someone is in a senior role in a department, they should have some influence.
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To help you get started, you can use sites like LinkedIn or AngelList to browse through potential contacts. On these sites, you can filter people out by keyword, such as manager or director, which can help you better identify whom you should reach out to.
Then, when you’ve found the right person, you’ll need to know their email address. To find this information, check to see if the person has posted their email on a personal blog, social media, or on LinkedIn. If they have not, though, most companies use one of the following three structures for emails:
If you can’t find someone’s email address, don’t worry. Try to find someone else in a company to whom you could reach out instead.
Tip #2: Find a Connection to Your Recipient
Finding a connection to your recipient who can broker an introduction is a good way to increase the chances that your email is opened.
For instance, if you know someone – a friend, a family member, or a co-worker – who can introduce you directly, you should explore that avenue. That way, you’ll have a direct way in and you will not need to blindly send an email to someone, hoping for a response.
Tip #3: Keep it Short and Simple
Now that you know the person you want to reach out to, you’re ready to start drafting your email.
The message you write should be short, concise, and simple. There’s no need to go overboard and write an entire professional biography in one email.
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To start, you should include a short elevator pitch which captivates the reader. This should include how you found the position, who you are, and a specific example of why you would be a good fit for a job you are interested in. Then, you may want to add a final sentence asking more about the person’s availability.
The shorter your email is, the more likely the recipient is to respond – if someone sees a long email, they may just skip over it entirely on account of its length.
Tip #4: Focus on Your Strengths
You may only have a few sentences to explain who you are and what you are about, and this may make you skip overselling your strengths to save space.
In your email, you don’t want to brag about your accomplishments, or talk about your strengths like you would in a resume. Instead, you may want to say something like: “I was responsible for growing X’s Twitter feed to 200K followers, and would love the opportunity to help you similarly.” This is a one-sentence description and pitches your value to the recipient.
Tip #5: Make a Specific Ask
You should end your email with a specific ask for what you want from the recipient.
In most cases, you’ll want to say something like: “Would you be free for a 15-minute chat next week to discuss this position?” That clearly explains your intention, and why you want to talk with the person. If you are specific, there will be no doubt in the recipient’s mind why they should talk with you.
You should also keep your ask small and to-the-point. If you’re looking to see if the company is still interviewing for the position, ask the recipient directly; if you want to meet up for coffee so you can learn more about the company, tell the recipient that upfront.
Tip #6: Follow up
Even if you have written an excellent cold email, there is still a chance that you will not hear back. In some cases, the recipient may be busy, missed your email, or ignored it.
If you haven’t heard back from someone, do not let that discourage you from reaching out again. Not hearing back is not a “no.” It could mean that the other person just has not had time to read over your email and craft a response.
If you sent out an email a week ago and have not heard back, you may want to send a quick follow up email to remind the recipient that you’re still interested in talking.
Cold Email Template
What does an ideal cold email look like? To help you get started, here is a cold email written for a hypothetical job opening for a full-stack web developer position at Pinterest:
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Hello Mr. Jacobson,
I saw your post for the full-stack web developer position at Snapchat on Twitter, and I would like to know if you are still looking for applications.
I am formerly a full-stack web developer at Slack, where I helped scale our web application to five million daily active users, and I was a core contributor on the team that implemented the “threads” feature used daily by many of Slack’s active users.
Do you have 15 minutes to chat more about this position sometime in the next week about the full-stack web developer position?
This cold email is simple, concise, and straight to the point. The author has clearly stated their strengths, without going into too much depth, and has ended the email with a specific ask related to whether he can chat with Mr. Jacobson.
If you see a job for which you want to apply but have no way in, then sending a cold email can be a great way to get your name in front of the person hiring for the job.
While cold emails may seem impersonal, when written well they are a great way to reach out to people to whom you have no connection and to potentially initiate relationships with people who may be interested in hiring you in the future. One cold email could change your career.
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