Most opportunities you have to present yourself to a hiring decision maker will involve sending an email.
The form and substance of that email will have a great deal to do with whether you get a response or not.
As a recruiter, I receive a lot of emails from job seekers looking for leads, looking for help in their search, or pursuing specific job opportunities I’m working on. On average, I receive between 1000 and 1500 emails per month. In those emails, I’ve seen the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
What gets my attention? What gets a response? And what really gets my interest? Three different questions, with three different answers. Here are some observations, opinions, and ideas about how you can improve your chances of getting a response to your emails.
What gets attention? – Often an extraordinarily bad email gets as much attention as a great one. It often amazes me how poorly or cryptic people write. Generally, it’s not a good idea to send a cover letter as an attachment since it rarely will get opened at all. The greatest cover letter in the world has no impact if it doesn’t get read. The body of your email is effectively your cover letter. Considering how important it can be, I’m stunned how casually people treat it. I’ve received emails that have only said: “I am sending u my resume” and have their resume attached. I’ve had worse ones that are full of texting abbreviations. In my opinion, it would be better to not write anything at all, and only attach a resume than to write overly casual, overly cryptic, or non-sensical notes. First impressions DO matter.
What gets a response? – If someone sends a professionally written, clearly customized introduction for help or in response to a position I’m recruiting for, I will invariably respond to them even if they are not a fit for the role or the profiles I generally seek. If they made the effort to present themselves in the best way they can to me, I believe they deserve a respectable response. If they send what is clearly a standard form letter that does not necessarily apply to me directly, or if they carelessly sent something with no effort at professionalism, I will often not bother responding to them.
What gains real interest? – Brevity is a virtue, and connecting dots is key. When I’m processing the many emails I receive each day, I only have a very brief time to decide what to do with each one. If I open an email that has several long paragraphs, I will rarely read past the first line. If there’s a resume attached, I will open it and quickly decide if this is someone I want to examine further, but because the email message was too long, the note has no impact on my decision to go further or not.
If someone writes a couple very brief paragraphs and has written something that very quickly and easily helps me see why I may be interested in pursuing this person further based on specifics related to the position I’m trying to fill, or generally as the types of people I target, it has a tremendous impact on my decision.
Whether you send an email to a recruiter, an HR representative, or to a hiring manager, connecting the dots for them as quickly as possible has everything to do with gaining their interest. Help them see the connections by directly linking their requirements with your specific experience. Some people make it even visually easier on me by creating a short table with my requirements on one side, and their related experience on the other.
Secondly, give one brief reason you stand out from everyone else. Give an accomplishment, brief success story, or a unique qualification that emphasizes why you should be considered.
Clearly showing your related experience and what makes you stand out from the crowd will cause me to follow up with you every time.
Relevance and Impact!
A good email can make a tremendous difference in your response rate. Take the time and put in the effort to make it work for you!