How to write a cold email for a job (with an example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 January 2023

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Employers do not always advertise all of their career opportunities and contracts externally. Sending a cold email to a prospective employer can mean that you unearth an unadvertised vacant position or form a connection with a company that interest you. Writing cold emails shows your initiative and allows you to be proactive with employers, who may appreciate the extra effort you're putting in. In this article, we explain how to write a cold email for a job and provide a full example of one.

What is a cold email?

A cold email is an enquiry sent to a company representative with whom you're not already personally acquainted. The email can have the purpose of looking for employment possibilities with the company or networking with industry professionals, or both. Cold emails are useful for both introducing yourself to companies you're interested in and for seeking advice from potential mentors and contacts. The benefits of cold emails are that they are sent to an inbox that the recipient frequently checks and they are non-invasive in nature, meaning that the recipient can choose whether to reply or not.

How to write a cold email for a job step-by-step

Writing your first cold email may be an intimidating prospect, but with practice, you can produce them confidently and quickly. Here, we explore how to write a cold email for a job step-by-step:

1. Find a contact

The first step to writing a cold email is identifying an addressee. If you're enquiring at a company with which you're familiar, try to find a staff member who usually handles these sorts of enquiries. Alternatively, you can contact a well-known figure from the company with whom you would like to work or seek advice from. Check the company website or social media for senior staff members and try to find their work email addresses. If you send the email to a standard company inbox, it is not likely to be read.

2. Introduce yourself

The opening to your cold email introduces you to the addressee. Begin with your name and give a short summary of your job title, career and main interests. It's tempting to give an exhaustive account of your career and skills, but this isn't necessary at this stage. Provide the reader with enough information to pique their interest and you can give more details later if they ask for a CV or application. The important part here is to be concise so that they engage with the rest of your pitch.

Related: How to introduce yourself in an email (with examples)

3. State your intent

Immediately following your introduction, clearly state the purpose of your enquiry. If you leave your purpose ambiguous until halfway through the email, the reader may dismiss it as a sales pitch or lose interest. Be assertive and explain the reason behind your email briefly so they can understand why you're contacting them. Being confident with this statement leaves a good impression about your honesty and transparency, which may increase the likelihood of a reply.

4. Connect yourself to the addressee

Your addressee is likely to immediately wonder who you are and what your connection is to them. If you have a mutual friend or colleague, mention them to help validate your inquiry and provide a subtle character reference by association. If your addressee is a well-known authority in their field, you can ask them for advice or show familiarity with their work. Establishing this connection helps to make your cold email feel more personal and intentional to the reader rather than a typical enquiry.

5. Make it clear what you are asking of them

Be straightforward and ask about opportunities, advice or mentorship. Mention that you have already explored other avenues available to you such as their vacancies page or social media. Ask if there are any other opportunities available that suit your background to encourage them to read your profile. You might want to ask for advice in the form of a possible meeting or conversation, should their schedule allow it. You can facilitate the arrangements by listing your availabilities, while also making it clear that you can work around their schedule.

6. Sign off in a friendly manner

At the end of the email, express your gratitude for their time and any help they can offer. Using open and friendly language is critical to building the connection you are aiming to make with your addressee. Whilst it is important to maintain a professional tone, overly formal language can come across as impersonal. Rather than 'yours faithfully' or 'yours sincerely', try signing off with 'best wishes' or a 'thank you for your time' for a warmer impression.

Related: How to end an email

7. Follow up if necessary

If you receive no response within a week of sending your email, then it is acceptable to send a short follow-up email. It is likely that the person you are sending the message to is busy and may have emails backed up that they haven't responded to. If you find that an email has been ignored or rejected by an automatic notification, try emailing again to a different member of staff or inbox. The lack of response from address does not necessarily condemn all further enquiries to the company. Furthermore, if a contact has expressed that they cannot consider your enquiry properly due to time constrictions, consider sending another email after a sensible period of time has passed.

Related: How to write a follow-up email (with examples)

8. Receive rejections positively

Prepare yourself to not receive an acknowledgement or reply. The lack of a reply to a cold email is not necessarily a reflection of the email's quality or the quality of your profile. Many companies don't reply to cold emails due to policy, or some professionals may ignore cold emails due to lack of time. If you receive a rejection, read the addressee's response carefully. This may help you improve your pitch in the future.

What makes cold emails difficult to write?

Writing cold emails can be challenging if, like many people, you feel uncomfortable pitching yourself in an email or awkward requesting a job from somebody you don't know. Some cold emails fail because they are badly composed or seem overly self-congratulatory, but a well-written cold email can yield promising results. It can help to remember that companies sometimes have difficulty recruiting for a role or struggle to advertise a post well, so if you are a good fit for a vacant or future position, they will be delighted to hear from you. Ideally, you're trying to express an interest in job opportunities or mentorship concisely with a short, prioritised outline of your career profile, skills and qualifications.

Related: How to write a professional email: a complete guide with examples

Example of a cold email for prospective jobs

Following the guide above, you can start writing a well-structured and measured cold email yourself. Below is an example of what an effective cold email for job opportunities might look like following this structure:

Hi [Addressee],

My name is [Your Name]. I am a freelance journalist with over 5 years of experience specialising in current events and political pieces. I have written content for publications such as [company 2], [company 3], but my main publisher has been [company 1] for several years. I am currently looking for work and wanted to express my interest in any writing opportunities you have available in my field.

My interest in current events and politics is grounded in a strong desire to provide unbiased and illuminating accounts of ongoing campaigns and developments worldwide. The current climate and issues with misinformation have driven me to devote my career to writing critical and transparent news for respected publications.

I heard about your company from my supervisor [Supervisor Name], who explained that they worked with you in the past. I mentioned that I was looking for work and they suggested that you may have open positions or freelance contracts. When your own name came up, it turns out that I am also familiar with your work, since I particularly enjoyed your article on [topic] that you wrote for [company].

I have explored your site online and found a couple of opportunities that are open but aren't particularly relevant to my background. I would be grateful if you could tell me of any other opportunities that might be available now or arise in the future. I would also really appreciate a call to discuss my profile or if you have any advice for me about getting involved with some of these opportunities. I am usually free from 1-4 pm on weekdays.

Thank you very much for your time,

[Your Name]


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