Done well and consistently, cold emailing for a job can open the door to your next great position.
For many of us, emailing someone we don't know to ask for help with our job search can generate some anxiety — but there are worthwhile benefits if you risk it.
Cold emailing for a job shows that you're willing to take the initiative and extra effort required to reach your next career goal, which will impress many of the people you reach. This in turn can generate long-lasting connections, new career opportunities, informational interviews, additional clients, funding for your business, and much more.
Here are the general steps to successfully cold email for a job — and for your career as a whole.
How to Send a Cold Email That Gets You a Job
Following these steps will increase your chances of standing out from others in a very crowded inbox.
Find the best person to contact
Your goal is to send your email directly to the person who makes the hiring decisions for the role you want, and good places to begin are LinkedIn, the company website, or even your alma mater's career office.
Use a specific keyword, such as a department name or job title, to search for people at your desired company. You might not always reach the decision-maker, but you may get someone in a similar role who will forward your email to the right person.
If you find names but not emails, you can either use this method to find emails or take your best guess. Many email naming conventions include:
You may need to experiment until you get an email that doesn't bounce back.
Use a strong, relevant subject line
Make it short and creative, but practical enough to give the reader a strong reason to actually open and read your email. Once you know what the company wants and what you hope to gain from this email, build your subject line on those areas.
For example: "Marketing Manager with Medical Expertise Ready to Build Your Team."
Other subject line examples include:
Mentioning a common connection: "Carol Baker recommended I contact you"
Complimenting the business: "I loved your LinkedIn article on marketing"
Asking a pertinent question: "Any advice for someone fascinated by the research results you're getting at Company X?"
Be concise and specific
You have only a few seconds to generate interest once your email is opened, which is similar to the 6 seconds (or less) resume test. State who you are, where you work, how you found their information, and why you'd be a great fit for their job. What makes you stand out so they'd want to hire you?
Provide enough details about your relevant skills and experience to pique their interest, but not so many that they quickly move on. This is a good place to put your elevator pitch in writing. If appropriate, you can also briefly mention a shared interest that connects you to the reader.
In the end, focus on what you can do for the company rather than what they can do for you.
Have a reasonable request
Asking for the job is a little too direct and will more than likely turn the reader off, effectively ending your opportunity to make a connection.
Instead, suggest a phone call or virtual coffee date in order to learn more about the company, explore the reader's role in the organization, and get their advice on how to succeed in a specific career. You're more likely to get a response and an actual meeting, potentially leading to a job discussion.
Make connecting easy
Give the reader specific instructions on how to respond to you. If you've asked for a time to meet, include your available dates and times.
Follow up with reasonable expectations
Wait one to two weeks for a response before following up with another email.
Don't demand a quick reply, but rather acknowledge that they must be busy and ask if they've seen your email or need any additional information. Experts suggest replying to your original email so both messages are in the same thread.
Sample of how to write a cold email for a job
Here is a good example to help you get started on writing a cold email.
Dear/Hello/Greetings [First Name or Mr./Ms. Last Name],
My name is [your name], and I am interested in finding out more about the [position/role] listed on [company website/job board/LinkedIn]. Your assistant provided me with this email so I could get in touch with you [or state the specific way you located the person's name and email].
I noticed that your company won [award name] for four consecutive years, and I also saw you mentioned in an article regarding [subject]. I would enjoy meeting with you because of our shared interest in [career area, business strategy, etc.].
I'd love to schedule a time to discuss my suitability for the [position/role] within the next couple of weeks. I will follow up with you next week if I haven't received a reply from you before then.
You can add a paragraph that includes your elevator speech, related skills/experience, or anything that would catch the reader's attention, or you can modify the second paragraph with that information. Remember there is no “one size fits all” template.
Once you know how to write and send a cold email for a job, commit to sending as many as necessary until they open the door to your future success.
Before you send that email, make sure your resume is ready. Our free resume review can point you in the right direction.