You’ve just spent the last few hours scrolling LinkedIn jobs targeting Fortune 500 companies and your eyes are beginning to glaze over. You submit your resume and cover letter, holding your breath as you hit “send,” and hope for the best. After a few weeks of this, each application begins to feel like a shot in the dark. What gives?!
The fact is, you’ll never stand out from the crowd while doing the same scroll, cut-paste-copy dance that most job seekers seem to be engaged in.
Tip: Never, ever use the “one-click apply” button!
That “one-click apply’ button can be incredibly tempting to use. However, you can (and should!) put in a bit more effort than that. By sending out direct emails (also known as “cold emails”) instead of relying on that one-click apply feature, you’ll increase your odds of landing a job interview. Cold emails are also a great way to learn about unlisted job openings!
The first step? Do your research.
Before you start sending out emails, do the following:
- Make a list of (at least) the top 10 companies you find most interesting
- Visit each company’s website and browse current openings to get a feel for their needs
- Scan for the “contact us” section, and find the contact information for human resources or the department you wish to apply to. Copy that—you’ll need it soon!
- Get ready to knock the hiring manager’s socks off with your well-written cold email
How to write a cold email that doesn’t suck
Writing a cold email can seem daunting at first—even to the most talented writer! Trust me: it’ll get easier with practice. Here’s a few pointers to get you started.
What’s a good subject line?
Ah, the email subject line. You may be tempted to be punny or salesy, piquing interest with a question that’ll be answered in the body of the email. Please, stop yourself. The email subject line should be straightforward so that it’s directed to the right person. Is it boring? Yes. Is it statistically more effective? Yes.
Now that you have your subject down, it’s okay to introduce more flavor than your vanilla headline.
Your cold email should follow this basic outline:
- What attracted you to the company (2-3 sentences)
- A quick overview of your experience (1-2 sentences)
- What makes you a great fit (1-2 sentences)
- The call-to-action (1-2 sentences)
Here’s a cold email template to get you started:
Dear [Hiring Manager],
I have always had a keen interest in ____________, and admire the work that [company name] is doing/has done to improve _______. I recently read on your [blog/in your latest press release] that you’re___________. I appreciate the fact that [company name] is so involved in [cause/goal/innovation] and would be interested to see how it impacts _______________. I have [#] years of experience [working/reading about/etc.] [industry], and am excited to explore ways that I can contribute to [company name].
My core values in work and in life are __________, and I can tell from your [website/Youtube/Glassdoor/etc.] that we share a lot of these motivations. It’s important to me that I join and grow within a company that is not only doing something engaging, interesting and relevant, but also resonant on a deeper level.
If you have a few minutes to connect over the phone, I would sincerely appreciate exploring how I can be of service to [company name] on a brief call.
Thank you for your consideration,
[Your first and last name]
[best phone number to reach you at]
** Attach resume
After proofreading to ensure your cold email is error-free, concise and readable, you’re ready to hit send! You can choose to set-up a calendar reminder to follow-up in a couple of weeks in case your e-mail escaped their radar. Otherwise, congratulations! You’ve gotten your foot in the door.
About the Author
If you have any questions on how to write a cold email, please go ahead and tweet questions or comments to @StephanieThoma. Good luck!