Few topics are as divisive as sending cold emails. There’s the camp arguing against its effectiveness on the one hand, and on the other hand the camp arguing for its effectiveness.
In the world of applicant tracking systems, hundres of job boards -there is an increased skepticism if cold emails are an effective job search strategy.
And if you’re a job-seeker looking for the 5 best tips on sending cold emails to prospective employers, read on.
1) Prepare to follow up
It feels odd that this “follow up” part is the first point on this list. But it’s a fitting one because following up is as important as sending the initial cold email. And there are numbers to support this.
Studies have shown that the first follow-up is usually the most effective. And it brings the highest reply rate—about 40% higher reply rate compared to the initial email.
Another reason thinking about following up is important is because it will help you prepare yourself by using the right tools. For example, with a tool like Omnisend, you can reach prospects via any means they’d prefer including but not limited to email, web push notifications, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and others without switching to these apps individually. It’s primarily for e-commerce marketers, but as a job hunter, it’s an invaluable tool that helps you make more informed decisions about your cold email campaigns.
When you follow-up, don’t dwell on the information you gave already. Ask if they saw the first email and emphasize that you’re willing to talk whenever they have the time. Additionally, be prepared to resend the first email in case your prospect never saw it.
Make no mistake though, the content of that first email largely determines if you’ll eventually get a response, whether you follow up a hundred times or not. Let’s talk about that.
2) Do your research
Perform research on your prospective employer. When most people hear the term “research,” they readily think about the prospective employer’s correct email address. And they’re right. But proper research involves much more than an email address.
Look up the company’s mission and vision, and think of ways you can highlight your support of it to make you stand out from the pack of job seekers. Try to find something you may have in common with your recipient. But don’t be creepy.
Here’s what I mean. You can easily talk about working for a similar company in the past, attending the same conferences, a current event in the company, and sometimes even casual events or occasions in the recipient’s email. But for most recipients, veering off into their family life like talking about a spouse or child will be offensive.
Also, know your recipient’s job title, their role in the company, and a little about their professional background. You may find common ground to get your email off to the right start.
Apart from researching the company and the recipient of the cold email you’re sending, research the job role you’re applying for in the company. This can help you highlight how your skills will be valuable to the company either in your cold email or subsequent interview.
There’s a caveat though: decide in advance what is “sufficient” research about the company and recipient of your email. Research just enough to enable you to send a strong cold email. Otherwise, you’ll keep postponing sending an email with the excuse that you don’t know enough to send an impactful email.
3) Show, don’t tell
Many writers have seen or heard this advice more times than they can remember. It’s a hallmark of powerful storytelling.
But what exactly are you supposed to show in a cold email that wouldn’t sound like you’re bragging? There’s a lot.
Depending on the role you’re applying for, you can send a portfolio of your work relevant to the role you’re applying. Show how you helped your previous employer or your clients with your services. For example, a marketer or salesperson can both highlight increased sales as a by-product of their services and how their services directly contributed to it.
An SEO specialist can highlight how ranking higher on the first page of search engine results helped clients reach more people which in turn also meant more sales. An app developer can show how his design of a particular app ensured that it was more user-friendly, thus enhancing app downloads and usage. The list is endless, and you’re limited only by your imagination.
What if you do not have enough experience from a previous job or with clients? No problem. Show off any side hustles where your skills in the role you’re applying for is evident.
A digital marketer can link to her site where she has successfully grown an email list and created a profitable product or service.
Still, what if you have neither experience or side hustle? That’s simple—show what you can do. In other words, start working for your prospective employers before you get the job.
If you’re a marketer, you can write a thirty-day to six-month marketing plan for your prospective employer.
With this type of “showing,” you can get as high as a 50% response rate or higher on your cold emails. Try it.
4) Write an “effective” subject line
More times than you can count, you’ve decided to open an email at first glance while ignoring the others. Sometimes, you’ll open an email at first glance because you know and trust the sender, likely coming from a newsletter where you’re a subscriber. Other times, especially in cases where you may not know the sender, you’ll open because the email’s subject line draws you in.
You may perform research, do enough “showing” in the body of your email, and even have something in common with the recipient of your email, but these don’t matter if they ignore your email.
Think of this, which subject of the following emails would you open?
- Dear sir
- Dear valued customer
- Hey John
- Hello Harry
I want to believe that if you’re anything like me, you’ll veer towards the last two subjects—assuming of course, that your name is either John or Harry.
According to research from HubSpot, emails that include the first name of a recipient have a higher click-through rate than those that don’t.
Apart from personalized subject lines, some people have found success with clear, defined, subject lines.
The examples below fall into this category.
- Your next (insert job title here)
- Application for the post of (insert role here)
- Hey, connecting from (insert conference name or event)
- Congratulations on your funding round
- John Smith from SMX Tech Conference
- Letter of interest in your developer position.
True, some are more specific than the others and will depend on your knowledge of your prospective employer. But understand that you may need to try different subject lines to determine one that works for you.
5) Proofread your email
Your cold email is the first impression to your potential employer. Imagine if their first impression of you is that you’re careless or sloppy. Cringe-worthy right? Probably.
But that’s the impression you’ll make if you don’t proofread your email and any accompanying attachment to it. It’s like this: if this applicant didn’t bother to proofread their email, why should I bother that the rest of whatever they say is thoroughly researched? And there goes your chance of looking professional and polished.
Use simple grammar too, even if you’re applying for the position of a writer. Don’t use long or high-sounding words as contrary to what you may think, it doesn’t make people think you’re smarter.
Additionally, let’s assume two people reading this article send a cold email to the same prospective employer. They have done their research and have prepared documents to show what they can do in their respective positions when they get the job. One uses impeccable grammar while the other’s document is littered with grammatical errors.
Who do you think is likely to be considered? It’s not black and white, but the first person stands a better chance. Create a good first impression by proofreading your email.
When you send excellent cold emails, you’ll stand out from the crowd of job-seekers and increase your chances of landing an interview. What’s more, you won’t need to send up to a hundred cold emails to land an interview or get an offer. Apply these tips, and your career will thank you for it.