Sending Cold Emails May Not be the Way to Go

Nancy Anderson
Posted by

Cold emailing is one way to get your foot in the door during a job search, but they don't always get results. If you're making these common mistakes, your emails could be on a surefire path to the spam folder.

You're Contacting the Wrong Person

The first rule of successful cold emails is selecting the appropriate recipient. Each message should go to the person in charge of hiring. If the company doesn't have an HR department, try the supervisor of your target department. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to send your resume and cover letter to the CEO or the first contact you find. At a minimum, your emails are likely to be ignored. At worst, you might be irritating high-level executives and ruining your chances at a job with the company.

Your Content Is Insincere

To be successful, your cold emails have to stand out from hundreds of other messages that crowd an employer's inbox. If your content is boring or formulaic, it's unlikely to grab attention. A better strategy is to capitalize on the things that set you apart, such as your unique qualifications, passion for the job or compelling personal stories. Use your unique voice, and don't sacrifice enthusiasm in favor of formality. Instead of saying, "I'm an experienced web developer, and I'd like to be considered for a position with your team, " try a more personal approach like, "I met your client Joe Smith at a cocktail party, and he spoke highly about your innovative web development process. As a web designer and a strong believer in collaboration, I was immediately drawn to your team-oriented approach. Joe passed on your email address and suggested I get in touch about potential openings."

You're Unprofessional

Typos and poor grammar are common in casual texts and instant messages, but they have no place in professional communication. If your cold emails contain misspelled words, lack proper punctuation or exhibit incorrect sentence structure, they are unlikely to make it past a first read. The same goes for emojis and exclamation points, which are too informal for a work-related email. Finding a balance between sincere and professional can be tricky, so it pays to seek proofreading and editing help.

Your Emails Are Too Long

Few professionals have time to read through long emails from people they don't know. Wordy cold emails can sabotage your job search based on length alone. To increase your chances of getting through to the employer, use a concise greeting and get to the point as quickly as possible. A length of three short paragraphs or less offers plenty of space to make a pitch and leave the reader wanting more. Provide access to your work by including a link to your website or online portfolio — this strategy is convenient but not pushy, so it appeals to busy employers.

Cold emails can be effective, but only if they pique an employer's interest. By tweaking your messages, you can write personalized emails that get you closer to an interview.

Image courtesy of adamr at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch