A “Suite” guide to writing cold emails during a job search
After hearing so many requests, we at The Suite decided to share our tips on how to write cold job outreach emails and the best formula for following up. Enjoy!
Very few people will say that they were able to conduct a successful job search without being proactive. If you read our guide, “How to kick off a successful job search: Here are 3 steps to get you started”, you would know Step 3 is when you begin to reach out to companies on your Job Search Target List. Haven’t read it? Check it out and then come back once you're caught up!
Cold emails are awful period; however, they are an incredibly powerful tool in your job search repertoire. That said, let’s teach you how to write one that will avoid annoying the recipient and get you more responses!
I. Use a simple introduction and acknowledge the cold email.
Do you know someone in common? This is where you mention it. If not, start with something like this…
I hope you're well and don't mind the direct approach, but I would like to see if there are any open roles within COMPANY X that fit my background.”
II. Introduce yourself
Remember the phrase “brevity is the soul of wit”? How about K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid)? There’s a reason why people use these sayings and it isn't just to sound wise. Point blank, no one wants to read your auto-biography in an email so keep your messages short and crisp. Limit them to the following THREE sentence structure:
a. Your current or most recent role overview
b. A quick summary of your earlier career
c. What you hope to achieve for COMPANY X
Here’s an example: (Remember to adapt this to your background)
“My name is John Smith and I am currently the CMO of Company Y. I have over 20 years of consumer marketing experience with 12 spent in positions of leadership. I believe my expertise in (whatever fits here) will (relevant benefit based on your expertise and their needs).”
III. Lastly, ask them for the best way to follow up.
Don’t finish off a perfectly good email with “attached is my resume”. They didn’t ask to see your resume and I can guarantee you that chances are, they won’t read it without asking to see it. The right way to cap off an email like this is to ask them a question. In fact research suggests that emails ending in a question are 70% more likely to get a response. Try something like this:
“Would you be the right person to forward my resume to? If not, would you be able to connect me with the right person?”
Using this approach you guarantee two things: 1) If they are the right person they will ask you for your resume and respond, OR 2) They will connect you with the right person and now you have a MUCH warmer intro to piggyback off of.
Great you sent the email, now what do you do if they don’t respond?
We get it, waiting for someone to respond can create some serious anxiety. Sometimes, people have a lot on their plates, so give them some time to get to your email. Remember though, wait too long to follow up and they will probably forget you asked them in the first place. Sound complicated? It can be. To help, here's our proven formula for how to follow up without alienating the recipient.
Wait 1 week from sending your first email. That gives them a fair amount of time to action it. If you haven't heard back, don’t send a second email separate from the first. Either reply to or forward the first email to them again with a short note saying something along these lines:
“Not sure if you saw this, but I wanted to follow up in case you missed it. As I stated previously, I am very interested in exploring opportunities with COMPANY X, and would really appreciate any guidance you could give on the best way to go about it”.
This tells them that you are not accusing them of ignoring you, but you do expect a response.
If this doesn’t get you a response, wait another 48 hours and do the same thing again, but this time use the one you just re-sent which will make it appear as a double reply/forward (adding some extra urgency to it). Considering they have not answered your first two attempts, you may want to use the third attempt to call out your persistence and also, give them an easy way out.
"I wanted to follow up one more time before closing the loop on this. As you can tell from my persistence, I am really interested in pursuing an opportunity to work for Company X. Assuming you aren’t the right person to reach out to, can you let me know who is?”
If after this you still do not receive an answer, it’s time to move on and either find someone else at the company or cross the company off your list.
We want to remind you that there is no silver bullet and not every email will get a response (just ask someone who has spent time in sales), but that's why you need to have the right habits in place. By following this guide, you'll ensure that you don’t alienate someone who would have answered had you used the right approach, and decrease the amount of time you spend waiting for an answer that isn’t coming.
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George is the CEO & Co-Founder of The Suite. He founded The Suite in order to fundamentally change the way executives manage their careers. Prior to founding The Suite in 2019, George spent several years in the executive recruiting space where he was fortunate enough to advise some of the world's leading VC & PE backed businesses on talent.