By Alyshia Hull
When I was in college I was really excited to apply for an editorial internship with Girls’ Life magazine. However, with so many other applicants, I was worried that my application would get lost in the shuffle. How can I stand out? I wondered. How could I catch the eye of a hiring manager who was buried in a pile of resumes? Confused and uncertain, I reached out with a short, but detailed email. Although it worked, it was tricky, and since all hiring managers are different, I asked a few experts for their opinions on how to approach the cold outreach. With their help, I feel more confident for next time and I know their advice will help you too.
Do Your Research “I say yes to the people who have done the most homework on me and my work, and whose interests and career goals seem like they could benefit most from my specific perspective,” said Feifer. “Time is a resource, so I want to spend it wisely—and I’ll do it on people that show me they’ll put my time to the best possible use.”
Personalize Your Message It’s tempting to write one generic cover letter or email and use it for all your correspondence and just swap in a different name. Resist the urge, says Turner. “What will make people want to talk to you, want to hire you, is if you are a fan of their brand and you make clear that you ‘get’ their reader or consumer. That has to be unique every time.” There are some tricks though; try this cover letter writing technique.
But Be Brief. Editors and hiring managers have full inboxes. To increase the chances of a reply, KISS (your mom taught you that one, right?). “My rule of thumb is to make sure when they open the email they can clearly see the end of it,” says Chandra Turner, founder of Talent Fairy and Ed2010. “It shouldn’t be a long scroll of gray text.”
Try Email First. “If you can find a work email for them, that’s ideal and the most professional and least intrusive way to reach out to a cold contact,” says Chandra. Use her handy guide to find the email address of any hiring manager or editor at any media brand.
DM’ing is OK too. “If email fails, your next go-to is LinkedIn, which often links to personal email, but is considered most professionally “safe” of the social media platforms. “That said, it can be fine in some cases to DM on Instagram or Twitter. especially if they are active on the platform and use their account professionally,” said Turner.
Adapt Your Voice to the Platform. On email you should be more formal, on social media, more conversational. “Make sure your message is conversational and personal,” said Turner. “Say how you’re a fan of the brand and would love to work there. Authenticity goes a long way.”
Know When to Follow Up. “If you never got a response to your application, you can send a follow up note after a week asking for when first round decisions will be made,” suggests Turner. “Follow up a couple days after that date if you haven’t heard back.”
And When to Walk Away. If you still get silence, let it go. Unfortunately, so many hiring managers and recruiters, ghost because they don’t like to relay bad news. Take it on the chin and move on! It wasn’t the right fit for you anyway!”
Go Low … even when you want to go high. “If you’re reaching out to someone at your dream job: Find someone junior or mid-level who has the time,” offers Jason Feifer, editor in chief of Entrepreneur. They are also more likely to have been in your situation more recently and will be more empathetic.
Alyshia Hull is a freelance writer and YouTuber in the personal development space.