9 Tips on How To Write An Effective Cold Email For A Job (With Templates and Examples)

How to write a cold email for unadvertised job and internship opportunities and actually get an interview. What's the best subject line for a cold job email? Tips and templates.

How To Write A Cold Email For A Job That Actually Gets a Reply

How To Write A Cold Email For An Unadvertised Job or An Internship

Writing a cold email can be daunting, even more so when trying to find a job or internship. Trying to impress someone using only text while balancing it enough not to seem arrogant is an art form. But don’t fret; here is a complete guide on how to write a cold email to get your dream job or internship.

How To Cold Email For A Job – Useful Tips

Cold emailing is generally not considered an effective way to find a job. That’s because cold emails generally have less than a 40% open rate. Estimates are that less than 15% of cold emails get read.

However, the potential benefits are astronomical. A well-written cold email can land you an unadvertised job, help you build new professional connections, and find new opportunities. Many success stories started with someone who desired to work for a company they admired but could never find a job ad.

When companies receive a cold email to make sales or apply for a job, they tend to ignore it unless the email immediately grabs their attention. That’s why always make sure your email fits particular standards. Here are the steps (and some valuable tips) to help you write the perfect cold email.

Step 1: Preparation Is King

To build a cold recruitment email that stands out from the rest, you must do some work before clicking on the compose button. There’s a lot of research you must do. Specifically, you need to determine the following:

1. Understand the company’s structure. Know which departments the company has. Find out if they have a dedicated HR or recruitment manager and who does what in the company.

2. Find out what the company’s focus is. It might be less obvious than it seems. For example, the business world considers McDonald’s a real estate company, not a restaurant.

3. Identify some of the company’s significant achievements and successes. This knowledge will help you a lot in the email.

4. Try to find the company’s ethos and culture. Your email should show that you understand it and how you can fit in with it.

Step 2: Send The Email To The Right Person

Large companies have vast numbers of staff. To ensure success, you can’t simply send your speculative email for a job to info@randomcompany.com. You have to ensure that your email reaches the right person.

Yet there’s a problem: top managers and executives usually have personal assistants who work as some sort of gatekeepers. Their responsibility is to filter emails so that only the most important ones reach a manager or an executive. So, how do you get to the right person?

See If You Have Connections Within The Company

It’s always easiest to reach the right person if you know someone who may know them directly. Such a person may give you a direct email address that you might not be able to get any other way.

LinkedIn is a great tool to use to see if you know someone who knows someone. Simply search for the person you want to contact, then you will see if you have any connections that know them.

It might seem like a long shot, but you may be surprised. There is an (unproven) theory that everyone on earth is connected to everyone else by no more than six people. Once you start building your LinkedIn network, it begins to seem realistic.

Bypass As Many Levels As Possible

If you want a job in the IT department, don’t contact the receptionist, HR, or junior technicians (unless you want to get more information). Try to reach the hiring manager directly. Whatever department you want to join, try to get the email address of that department’s manager.

Sometimes you can find their contact details on the company’s website (though you might have to dig around a bit). LinkedIn is also an excellent resource for this. If all else fails, a quick Google search can do an excellent job.

Step 3. Formulate The Right Subject Line

According to the email marketing experts at Hubspot, the number one reason why people will ignore your cold email is because of a poorly composed email subject line. You might say that email marketing has nothing to do with cold emailing for jobs or internships, but it’s just a different type of marketing. You’re trying to sell your services to the company, after all.

Formulating the perfect subject line is complex, but here are some tips:

1. Keep it short. Long subject lines will instantly bore or frustrate your target. Furthermore, many people read emails on their phones while traveling, and phones will trim long subject lines, losing your message in the process.

2. Keep it personal. A subject line that shows you know who you’re speaking with will go a long way toward getting your email noticed.

3. Stick to the important stuff. Don’t overdo it with filler words. Be to the point and convey the reason for your email.

4. Avoid the spam folder. Most spam filters identify specific words or phrases to determine which emails are spam. If your subject line sounds like something you would find in your spam folder, your cold email for a job will likely also end up in the spam folder.

5. If you can, mention someone who referred you. People are far more likely to open emails that refer to someone they know since it removes most suspicion of spam or scams.

What is the best subject line for a cold email for a job or an internship? 

Interestingly, Fast Company ran an experiment with 1,000 cold emails and found that the simple subject line “Quick question” got over 51% of people to open the email.

Step 4. Explain The Reason For Your Email

Remember, you are sending an email to a busy executive. Studies show that people read less than 30% of an email before deciding if it’s worth reading the rest. It’s essential to get your message out there as quickly as possible.

In the opening paragraph, after greeting them, tell them who you are, where you got their details, and what you are looking for.

Now that they know all this information, you will have their attention throughout the rest of your email.

Step 5. Make Your Cold Job Email Personal

With the introduction out of the way, you can now take the time to tell them why you chose to send them an email rather than someone else.

Briefly talk about the person you’re emailing, the company, and some notable achievements or projects you’re aware of. This shows that you’ve done your research and proves your desire to work for them.

Marketing specialists at Woodpecker found that personalizing your cold email could double the chances of the recipient responding to it. That’s not just the generic “first name” type of personalization; anyone can do that. You should demonstrate some actual knowledge about the person or the company.

Step 6. Talk A Bit About Yourself

Don’t overdo this part, but you should tell the recipient a little more about yourself. You could attach a resumé so they can find out more about you, but you should tell them enough in the body of the email to pique their interest.

Take care to tell them more about the value you could add to their team than what they could add to you. Unfortunately, people are often more concerned about what you could do for them than the other way around, especially in business.

Also, convey positivity in this section. Don’t end every sentence with an exclamation mark but using a few here and there to show your excitement is okay.

Step 7. Request Something Small

You won’t get a job offer right away (highly unlikely, to say the least), but your unsolicited job application email can surely get you an interview.

Ask for a small yet specific action at the end of the email (e.g., schedule a short introduction call). Known in marketing as a “call to action”, this element of your cold job email has the potential to improve response rate. 

Depending on the position you’re trying to get, the contact person, and the industry, you could even offer to meet in person for a coffee or lunch. This will allow you to build a relationship rather than appear aggressive. Definitely not an option if you’re applying to an entry-level position or an internship, though. 

Step 8. When Should I Send My Cold Email For a Job? 

You want to send your email at a time when the recipient might have a bit of free time, but not too much. Weekends and public holidays are never a good idea because your email will only get lost among many other emails.

People often think that early Monday morning makes sense, but that’s when people catch up with urgent emails from the weekend. Your email might be important, but they probably won’t see it as urgent.

You’ll get the best results with emails sent on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 11:00 and 14:00. That’s when people have generally caught up with their backlog and are taking things at a calmer pace.

Step 9. Follow Up

According to the email specialists at Woodpecker, a follow-up email has a 4% higher response rate than an initial cold email, on average.

As mentioned, you are probably dealing with a busy executive who might not have the time to respond immediately and might forget to reply later. That quick follow-up email will remind them to reply and increase your chances of getting what you asked.

The follow-up email will also show them you are serious, adding credibility to your request.

Are Cold Emails For Jobs/Internships Effective?

Cold emailing for a job is less effective than applying through a job board or an employment agency. As mentioned, many HRs and hiring managers ignore cold emails if the sender doesn’t write them correctly.

However, a study posted on LinkedIn shows that HR managers welcome cold emails for employment. In this study of almost 20,000 cold emails, 15% opened the email, 23% clicked on the attachments or links, and nobody reported it as spam.

HR managers are always looking for promising people to join their teams, so the chances of them completely ignoring your well-written cold email is relatively low.

That does not mean it’s the best way to find a job. It’s still only 15% of the recipients that opened the email, which means you will have to send cold emails to about 100 people to get 15 opens, and not all of them will respond.

But if you follow the tips mentioned above, it will improve your chances considerably.

How to send a cold email for a job without contact info? 

If your search for a connection within the company didn’t yield any results, you might use email lookup tools (e.g., Hunter.io). They combine different methods to find the email of the person you are trying to connect with. 

You can re-create the process manually, but these tools will save you hours, especially if you send your cold job emails to multiple companies. Most of these services have free or trial versions, so no costs are involved. 

Cold Email For A Job Or Internship: Templates And Examples

Templates help a lot. Once you’ve created the perfect cold email, sending it to everyone you want to approach seems logical. The problem is that this could make it appear like a template and people don’t like receiving templated emails.

Changing essential parts of your template to make every email unique is crucial. Here are a few ways to do that, using all the tips mentioned above.

Template 1: You Have A Mutual Connection

Subject:

Discussion with (Name of Connection)

Body:

Good day, (Name of Recipient)

My name is (your name). I am currently looking for a job/internship in (mention the industry). After a discussion with (name of connection and a position in the company, if applicable), I am convinced that you are the right person to talk to.

(Name of connection) told me about (specific achievement or accomplishment), and I have the utmost respect for how you accomplished that.

I have (name your most prominent qualifications and experience). I am excited about the possibility of becoming a member of your team, and I would love the opportunity to (explain how you will help and benefit the company).

I would love to have the opportunity to meet you. Do you perhaps have a few minutes for a quick (call/coffee/meeting)? I will be in your area on (propose a date and time).

Kind regards,

(Your name)

(Your contact details)

Template 2: You Do Not Have A Mutual Connection

Subject:

(Name), are you free for coffee?

Body:

Good day, (Name of Recipient)

My name is (your name). I am currently looking for a job/internship in (mention the industry). After following your work in the industry for quite some time, I am convinced that you are the right person to talk to.

I recently (attended a particular talk / read a specific news article) and found (name a specific point) exciting, and I would love the opportunity to talk to you about it. I have (name your most prominent qualifications and experience), so I am passionate about (name the topic).

I would love to have the opportunity to meet you. Do you perhaps have a few minutes for a quick (call/coffee/meeting)? I will be in your area on (propose a date and time).

Kind regards,

(Your name)

(Your contact details)

Conclusion

People are undecided about the value of sending cold emails for jobs and internships, but your chances are better with cold emails than without them. 

It’s about both quantity and quality. The more you send, the better your chances, but only if you do your part and craft your email correctly.

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