|  February 9, 2016

Five big cold email mistakes

To wrap up our mini-series on cold emails (check out post #1 and #2 as well) we’re going to focus on cold email mistakes — essentially, what not to do.

Like I’ve said in the past, cold emails can be a double-edged sword. When executed well, they can save your resume from the black hole. When written poorly, they can actually count against you.

Here are the five biggest cold email mistakes I’ve seen and hope you will avoid!

Mistake #1: The BCC

Generally, recruiting teams sit together and it’s a bit annoying when everyone’s email alert goes off at once with a generically-written email from the same candidate. Then just a moment later, your department head forwards the same exact email to you wondering what it was about. This has happened to me many times and it’s never resulted in a candidate getting an interview.

Don’t BCC 10 people on your email to see what sticks. Pick one person thoughtfully (more on this here) and write a personal note sharing why you decided to reach out to them.

Mistake #2: Spammy Robot

Yes, this is term I just made up… but it really does encompass my second cold email pet peeve. When you put zero thought into cold emails, you end up sounding spammy and robotic and your email will get deleted.

If you’re reaching out to a total stranger and are expecting them to do you a favor, take the time to write a thoughtful note. Your note should not be generic and SHOULD explain why you’d be a good fit for the open role based on their job description.

If you don’t write a compelling and customized email, it’s likely to get ignored.

Mistake #3: Typos!

The great thing about cold emails is that they do usually get read. Typos or poor grammar will be noticed and are deal-breakers. Email communication is an important part of any job these days and your cold email is a direct reflection of that. Make sure that what you are sending is the best example of your communication skills.

Make sure that what you are sending is the best example of your communication skills.

Mistake #4: Being too aggressive or demanding

It’s so important to approach respectfully when you are asking a stranger to do you a favor. The person on the other end owes you nothing, so do not demand that they:

  • Have coffee with you
  • Share advice
  • Pass on your resume
  • Respond
  • Anything else!

Give them the option to help you out if they feel the role you’re expressing interest in is a good fit, but don’t feel entitled to that outcome. You’re not always going to get a response and that’s okay.

The point of sending a cold email is to get eyes on your resume, save it from the black hole, and ensure you are considered for the job you applied to. However, if someone does look at it and decides not to interview you (because it’s not a fit, because the job is filled, or any other reason) it’s not your job to badger them into changing their mind.

Mistake #5: Telling your life story

Cold emails should be brief and not cover your entire resume or life story. Using as few words as possible, get to your point and share what your reader will care about the most from your background. If you say too much, your reader will be overwhelmed and ignore instead of taking 5 minutes out of their day to read through. Short and sweet is the name of the game.

I hope that sharing these common mistakes will help you avoid them and enable you to write strong, effective cold emails. This post wraps up our series but if you have any ideas for future topics you’d like to see on the site, share them in the comments!

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