— February 6, 2018
Have you ever received an email from an unknown sender, with a generic greeting like “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madame?” Most of us have, and most of us respond to these emails in the same way—by promptly hitting the delete key.
But what if you’re on the sending side of that relationship? If you’re a jobseeker, this isn’t such an unlikely prospect. Jobseekers send cold emails all the time, to hiring managers or recruiters who they may have met at a networking event or a seminar, or who they know through a mutual friend.
These cold networking emails can be meaningful ways to establish key connections, but only if you actually get your message across—and that means sending emails that get opened and read, not immediately deleted.
As you seek an effective email strategy, here are some tips to keep in mind.
The Subject Line is Critical
Let’s be honest: A lot of us immediately delete emails we get from unknown senders, especially if they come with generic subject lines. It’s important to make yours specific, then; did you meet this contact through a mutual friend? Put the person’s name in the subject line. Did you meet this contact at a networking event? Mention the event in the subject line. Offer whatever memory joggers, whatever moments of recognition you can.
Even if the person you’re writing to is a middle-manager in a huge company, he or she still wants to feel like a person—not a cog in the wheel. In your opening paragraph, explain why you’re writing to this person, in particular. Citing common ground is always a good idea to establish that personal connection.
Don’t Beat Around the Bush
It’s always good to be up front about your intentions. You want a job, and should say as much. Don’t try to be too clever or too vague in your phrasing; saying “I just want to pick your brain about potential opportunities” is needlessly watered down. Say that you’re hoping for career advancement and would like to ask for the person’s help.
Keep it Brief
It’s also important to emphasize how much you respect the person’s time—something you can do by keeping your message succinct and to the point. A couple of paragraphs is usually sufficient.
Finally, don’t be afraid to shine the spotlight on yourself a little bit. You don’t want to rehash your entire resume, but do offer two or three bullet points that show the value you bring as an employee. This may feel immodest, but within the context of asking about job opportunities, it’s perfectly acceptable.
Have Your Documents Ready
Hopefully, your email will get results—and the next step will be sending along your resume and cover letter.