Exams are tough. Final papers are brutal. After years of all-nighters and alternating stress-induced crying with self-directed pep talks, you’ve made it. Graduating university or college is a great accomplishment—you’re finally free! But then…you remember there’s the entirely new and difficult challenge of trying to land yourself your dream job.
To help you out with this, FORA’s launched How to Get Hired, an ongoing series focused on helping you throughout the entire job application process. We’ve asked around the MTV and Much offices—the actual people who interview and hire our digital interns—for their Dos, Don’ts and Nevers of the job application process. Our first instalment deals with how to craft the perfect cold e-mail.
Writing cold e-mails can be daunting and it might not seem worth putting the effort into something that may or may not yield any results. But a well-crafted, engaging e-mail could be the difference between a read or a delete. Keeping in mind that this advice comes from a team that primarily deals with editorial and digital content (We deal with media and marketing. Depending on what kind of job you’re applying for, the rules might change), here’s our advice:
A simple formula to an effective cold e-mail answers three questions in three paragraphs.
1. Who you are
Providing a brief introduction is a good way to allow your personality to shine through. Try and catch the reader’s attention in a good way—tasteful, appropriate jokes and non-generic facts about yourself.
2. What you’ve done
“It’s about how you’re the best fit for them,” said Lindsay, a project manager on the corporate side of FORA. “Focus on what they do and relate your skills to them.” A cold e-mail is like a sales pitch—you’re given a brief moment to convince someone that (similar to Cold Stone Creamery), they like it, love it and GOTTA HAVE IT! (It = you as their employee)
3. What you want
A good place to start is to compliment a current project. It shows that you’re engaged and genuinely interested in what they do. Mention what you like specifically about the company and what you think you’ll get out of the experience if you end up landing the job. Show that you tailored your e-mail for them. Don’t send a generic e-mail that looks like it had been copied and pasted over and over again.
Other things to consider
Avoid sending e-mails on the weekend. No one checks their work e-mails on the weekend. And you’ll most likely get lost in the weekend e-mail catch up come Monday morning.
The e-mail itself
Use a professional e-mail. This is obvious. And please DON’T use an @hotmail.com address. Attach a resume /work samples RIGHT AWAY, it streamlines communication.
Use your own judgment when it comes to asking for more
While many of our staff suggested inviting potential employers to meet for coffee, some of the higher-ups didn’t agree. Kyle, our supervising producer, warned: “Don’t expect time.” He said it was okay to seek advice or guidance over e-mail initially. Then, after establishing a relationship, an invite for coffee to learn more about the job or company would be appropriate.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Don’t take it personally. People are busy and the chances are, their inboxes are already swarmed. Within a week or two, follow up with another e-mail or even a phone call. Most employers will probably appreciate the reminder.
Addressing the e-mail
Jessica, a web content co-ordinator at Much, advised: “Take the time to find out who the person is that will receive your e-mail. No ‘To Whom It May Concern’ if you can help it. Call reception. Do a good Google search. Ask someone you know who may know.”
And above everything else—PROOFREAD. Again. And again. And once more. And another time for good measure.