In a way, writing the perfect email to a potential employer is a balancing act.
On the one hand, you want to make your message and application stand out from the others they’re receiving. But you definitely don’t want to be too gimmicky or unprofessional.
Read on for seven tips that will get you one step closer to your dream job.
1. Write a clear subject line.
Augustine advised against getting catchy with subject lines. Instead, make it obvious that you’re submitting a job application.
If there are no specific directions in the job posting, something as simple as, “Application for Strategy Reporter (ID #12345): Shana Lebowitz” should work.
However, if you’re cold emailing a potential employer, you should get a bit more creative in your subject line.
Talk about the value you can provide — for example, “would love to share my ideas on increasing sales team productivity.” Consider what the person you’re emailing cares about and why she would want to read your message.
2. Address your message to the appropriate person.
“The worst thing you could do is put, ‘Dear Madam’ or ‘Dear Sir’ as your opening,” Augustine said,” because it shows you didn’t put any effort into researching the right person.”
You can do some sleuth work on LinkedIn and find out the name of the company recruiter or hiring manager who originally posted the job. If that doesn’t work, you can leverage your network — do you know anyone who works there? — and find out who the appropriate addressee is.
In the rare case that the job is anonymously posted, you can say, “Dear HR Professional” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”
3. Talk about what you can provide the employer.
Keep in mind, Augustine said, that the employer is the target audience. So think about what type of value you’re offering them, as opposed to the other way around.
In the body of your email, mention exactly what you can do for the employer and what you’ve learned about that company.
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4. Customize the email to the individual employer.
Augustine said it’s important to tailor your message to each individual job and company.
“The more you talk about their specific needs and how your skill set does make you a really good solution to those needs, the more likely your message is to be read.”
And it might sound obvious, but make sure you include the name of the correct company in your email, especially if you’re emailing multiple employers at once.
“Oftentimes that can put you out of the running,” Augustine said. “Employers are looking for reasons to get rid of those applications.”
5. Don’t copy and paste your resume.
Augustine recommended not cutting and pasting your resume into the body of the email because the formatting ends up “atrocious.”
Instead, you should either attach a document or provide a link to a Google Doc. (You can hyperlink a few words so that you don’t end up with a long string of letters and numbers.) If you choose to submit a Google Doc, make sure you select the “view only” option for the employer.
6. Send your email ASAP after the job posting goes up.
“The sooner you get your job application in, the better,” Augustine said.
In general, you’ll want to submit it within 72 hours of the posting going up, because employers start to get inundated with applications after that and might not even open yours.
7. Follow up promptly.
Augustine recommends including a sentence in your email that says, “I will follow up with you on [whatever date] once you’ve had time to review my application.”
She advises planning to follow up one week after you send the application or, if there’s a close date on the job posting, planning to follow up a week after that. Make sure you mark the date on your calendar, so you don’t say you’re going to follow up and then forget.