Before I get started I feel I should qualify this article as just my opinion. There is so much advice swimming around the internet on this subject that it is almost inevitable that some of it will be contradictory but as someone who has been running my own companies for the last 10+ years, some of those in the recruitment and employment space and is approached daily by job seekers, I feel doubly qualified to give my opinion here.
I have five points that I wish I could sit and let every job seeker know. These might seem basic, but at the early stages of asking for a job, the basics matter!
1. Take your time – first impressions count
This email is the first step towards what will hopefully be your dream job. Is that something you want to rush or half ass?
This is the first impression you will make and you want to make sure that it is one that resonates with the recipient. After all you want them to action on it.
Make sure that you do your research, even more so if you are prospecting instead of applying directly to an open role. This is literally your pitch.
So you should know exactly what the recipient is looking for and present yourself as the solution. A hire they won’t regret and that will bring them the return on their investment in you.
That means researching the company, the management, the mission and the role. This should be one of the most considered emails that you ever write.
2. Don’t over do it
One of the biggest mistakes I see from people approaching about a role is over doing it. The fact is that most recruiters or hiring managers will look at your CV or resume for approximately 10-20 seconds before making a judgement to continue or pass. The same goes for your pitch email.
Get to the point straight off the bat, give the reader something to get their attention and encourage them to read on. To do this refer back to the research you have done and focus on what is good for them, not you!
Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
3. What not to do…
This is one that I still can’t believe that I see from time to time. A BLANK email with just a CV or resume attached. Again, this is my opinion but that’s taking the “keep it short” advice way too far. This is the digital equivalent of thrusting your CV into my face whilst I’m busy at work and saying nothing.
This really is the worst look when applying for a role. If you can’t even must the bare minimum of – Dear X, please find attached my resume. From X – then how much effort are you ever going to put into anything.
Perception is everything when it comes to this first pitch.
4. Attach a clear and simple formatted CV or Resume
The other side of that same coin also has relevance. I have, from time to time received beautifully crafted emails that did such a great job of hooking my attention, not over the top, not assumptively vacant but then alas – no CV/resume.
If you feel that you have put the work into the email, and you have crafted a pitch that will get you a response then give the hiring manager a chance to do their research too. Make it easy on them to check whether you have the right qualifications and experience required for the role. If you don’t attach your CV or resume, they can’t do this and they will move on. Your attention to details and foresight let you down here.
While I’m at it – here is an industry tip! Keep CVs/Resumes clearly formatted in a standard word document. Don’t try and pretty it up with fancy colours, fonts, pictures or graphs (unless relevant to your field) and certainly don’t use multiple formats.
An excel table, into a word doc and then PDF is a recruiter’s nightmare! 99.9% of the time your original document will need to be processed by software that struggles with recognition of abnormal formats. And even simpler than that the human eye does the same thing. Recruiters and hiring managers look at profiles ALL day and often need to reformat them for purpose so having a simple clear format marks you ahead straight away!
5. Follow up with a phone call
People are busy, don’t wait on them to come back to you. If you have done all of the above and really feel that you are a great fit for the role, be proactive. Take control of your own career. It shows confidence, motivation and organisation that you have followed up on your application and you might find that the hiring manager just hadn’t had a second to invite you for an interview. If you are told that your application isn’t successful at least you can cross that option off your list and move forward with other opportunities.
As always, best of luck with your job search!