|  February 1, 2016

Networking Series: 5 tips for writing successful cold emails

We’re onto our second post in the series on cold emails (read post #1 here).

As I’ve said in the past, a strong and thoughtfully written cold email can only have upside. In the worst case scenario, the recipient sees that it’s from a stranger and deletes it. No harm done. In the best case scenario, someone actually opens your resume, assesses it, and either gives you a call or passes it along to the correct person within the company.

However, this is only if they’re well done. Spammy, careless cold emails can and will hurt you so if you’re going to send cold emails, do it right. The content of that message is a complete reflection of both your communication skills and professionalism.

So what makes a cold email successful? 5 major things…

1. Sent to a targeted, single person who was carefully selected:

Like we talked about in post 1 of this series, who you choose to email is really important. Along those same lines, you should explain in your email why you decided to reach out to them. Is it because they’re a member of the HR team, or team you’re applying to? Or is it because they’re an alum of your school? Make sure the person you’re emailing understands why you’ve chosen to reach out to them and make as personal of a connection as possible.

Make sure the person you’re emailing understands why you’ve chosen to reach out to them and make as personal of a connection as possible.

2. Used for a role you’re a genuinely good fit for:

If you have 3 years of Marketing Experience and send a cold email for an HR role requiring 7 years of HR experience, your reader is going to think you’re out of touch with reality (and they’d be right).

If you are going to ask someone to go out on a limb for you, make sure that it’s a win-win: a win for you because your resume escapes the black hole and a win for them because you’re an amazing candidate for the job.

If you cold email people for roles you’re not qualified for, you will lose credibility.

3. Shares the relevant parts of your background, succinctly:

A cold email shouldn’t be the length of a cover letter, or even close to that. You’re emailing a total stranger and they’re not going to have a long attention span.

Use your space wisely by carefully read the job description, figuring out what the company is looking for, and then briefly sharing how your skills and background applies. 5-7 sentences is probably the sweet spot.

4. Makes it clear that you care about working for the organization:

No need to go overboard on this point (one line is fine) but I always think it’s nice to tell your reader that you have a genuine reason for wanting to join that company. Perhaps you’re a customer of theirs or drawn to their mission.

Whatever the reason, share it.

5. Is not demanding:

At the end of the day, you’re not owed anything here. Do not demand an hour-long coffee or even a response. I also don’t recommend following up 5 times if you don’t hear back.

Your time would be better spent finding someone else in the organization to try instead.

More questions about cold emails and the do’s and don’ts? Leave a comment and check back next week for the biggest cold email mistakes I witnessed during my time as a recruiter.

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