Author: Laura Mazzullo
Many things have changed in the world of job-searching in the last few years. One of the most noticeable changes has been the apparent demise of cover letters.
I personally have enjoyed reading through many a well-written cover letter in order to gain a better insight into a candidate and their goals going forward. (I also happen to enjoy a well-written LinkedIn invitation from a job-seeker, and many ignore that step, but I digress…) For those of you who say you don’t care about the quality of emails or invites from job-seekers, this blog may not resonate with you. But, in my humble opinion, correspondence from a potential new employee is a chance for them to make a stellar first impression. Correspondence can really impact their job-searching efforts, in a positive or negative way.
So, why have cover letters (mostly) gone away? As the recruitment function has brought in more automation/technology, many employers have simply asked for an electronic application and no longer request a cover letter. Additionally, with the transparency in communication and ease of identifying the email addresses of recruiters and hiring managers, more people directly send emails with their resumes attached. So, what are these job-seekers writing in the body of the email, you ask? This is where I see most people have room for improvement…
As a boutique recruitment firm owner, I receive over 50 emails each day from potential job-seekers with their resume attached. They aren’t including cover letters but they are writing something in the body of the email. Many can fine-tune what they are writing to make a stronger first impression. Emails with resumes attached are a candidate’s first impression with a recruiter/hiring manager—and shouldn’t be overlooked!
When reviewing the body of this email, I am reading carefully. I am looking for valuable information. Ideally, I’d love to see an introduction about who this individual is, understand why they’re looking for change, what they’re looking for next, and an understanding of why they specifically have reached out to me. This ‘body of the email’ is their stellar opportunity to make a fantastic first impression with the viewer! Yet, I’m afraid that so few are aware of this and most aren’t using this opportunity wisely.
Job-seekers, if you spend the same careful time and attention writing an email that you once did on a cover letter, you may see a much stronger response rate from potential employers! I will give you an example of an introductory email done well, and emails with areas for improvement. These are edited versions of actual emails I received recently.
Below is an example of a well-written ‘body of email’:
I came across an informative post of yours recently on LinkedIn and wanted to reach out and introduce myself. Since you specialize in HR Recruitment, I thought it would be great for us to connect. As a brief introduction, I am currently an HR Manager for a growing Tech firm in NYC. My firm is going through a difficult financial time, and I am beginning to explore external opportunities. I have been giving a lot of thought to what I want to do next, and would ideally love to remain an HR Manager but transition out of Technology into a new industry. I am particularly interested in the Luxury Retail or Media/Entertainment sectors. Please see attached for my updated resume. I would be grateful to have the opportunity to speak to you further so we can get to know each other better. I certainly welcome your advice and insight as how to best approach my search going forward. I hope to partner with you on any open roles that you see as a fit for my background. I look forward to connecting with you!
Thank you for your consideration,
In this note, the Job-Seeker explained why she was reaching out specifically to me, gave a brief introduction about herself, what she does, and described why she’s looking to leave and what she’s looking for next. She was polite, gracious and friendly. Her personal brand comes across as one that is approachable, kind and self-aware. Well-done!
Now, for a few examples of the emails I receive that I wouldn’t recommend sending:
Hi- Call me if you have any open positions for me. See resume attached. -Job-seeker
Hey-I am looking for a new job. Give me a call when you can. -Job-seeker
Hi there-Write me back at your convenience. I am ready for a new opportunity. I expect to hear from you very soon. -Job-Seeker
In these notes, I hope we can all agree that these candidates haven’t made a strong effort to make a dynamic first impression.
I empower you as job-seekers… make a positive first impression! You may find that you get more call backs, and see a greater return on your resume output! Take a little more time to write a thoughtful note in the body of the email. Few may be asking you for a long, formal cover letter anymore. But, ensure the emails you choose to send out are a strong reflection of your personal brand. Be proud of the emails you are sending. When in doubt: Read it aloud before you hit send. Ask yourself: Is this my best first impression via email?
Some of you may be thinking “But, I write great emails! I still don’t hear back from every hiring manager and recruiter I write to.”
I know. I understand how you feel. Sadly, this is a really tough part of the job-search. It is very rare that you’ll receive 100% response rate to all of your inquiries. Most Recruiters, including myself, do our best to respond to each and every inquiry receive, but we’re only human-we may not be able to get to them all.
In fact, I was recently talking to a peer of mine who is a Corporate Head of Talent Acquisition. I told her I was thinking of writing a blog post on this topic. She, too, has been seeing some need for improvement in email inquiries. As we were talking, we discussed how badly we feel because as Recruiters we can’t always respond to everyone. We all really want to help as many people as we can!
After reflecting upon our conversation, she emailed me a few hours later and wrote: “It’s important to note to job-seekers that they may not get a response sometimes, and that’s OK. It could mean that it was never going to be a relationship forged that would have been productive or beneficial for either side. Instead of an unanswered e-mail being the source of frustration, use it to further refine your target audience. Assume competence and positive intent on the part of the receiver, but you’re not always entitled to a response if the outreach is unsolicited and not relevant to the receiver.”
I felt that was worth sharing; as a job-seeker, it’s a good reminder to stay resilient and always empathetic towards the recipient. Everyone is doing their best to be helpful, and we want to see job-seekers succeed! I hope these pointers are helpful to you.
Here’s to happy and successful job-hunting!
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