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📓 Expand Your Job Search Network Through Cold Emailing

How do we build connections online with people we've never met? One way is via cold emailing, when is when we email someone for the first time without any prior introduction. Cold emailing may feel awkward but it's a key to making online connections — including possibly a future employer.

If you find writing emails to be a struggle, cold emailing may seem particularly challenging. However, writing emails is just like any other skill that we can practice and improve. If we can learn new programming languages, we can also improve our ability to write emails, too.

Sending Cold Emails

Cold emailing companies should be part of your regular job search. Cold emailing will rarely lead directly to a new job, though it does occur sometimes. However, cold emails can have other direct and indirect benefits.

  • They might lead to helpful advice or recommended resources that can help improve your skills as a programmer.
  • They can lead to information about an employer that you might not be able to find elsewhere.
  • They might lead to future familiarity if you eventually meet in person, such as at a conference, meetup, or interview. If you leave a good impression, people are more likely to keep you in mind down the road.

Not every cold email will lead to a helpful response. The success rate of cold emails will be lower than it will be with emails to people you know or meeting people in person. For that reason, cold emailing should never be your only strategy for getting a job. However, adding cold emailing to your job strategy will increase your overall chance of success.

Here are some potential cold email situations.

  1. Reach out to someone on the development team for an informational interview. An informational interview is not a job interview. Instead, it's an opportunity to meet with a person to learn about their experiences and listen to advice.

    Look for titles that contain Software, Engineer, Designer, or Developer.

  2. Reach out to an internal recruiter to learn more about what the company is looking for. An internal recruiter's job is to seek out best fits for their company. You can also ask questions about a job opening at the company to better prepare your job application materials.

    Look for titles that contain Recruiter, Sourcer, or Talent. Recruiters may be assigned to teams like Technical, Operations, or Software.

  1. If a company doesn't have internal recruiters, which tends to be the case with smaller companies, reach out to leadership next. This can be helpful if you applied to a job at a company and don't have contact information for a person to follow up with.

    Look for titles like Director, Manager, Lead, CTO, VP, or Cofounder. Also pay attention to the teams they manage. Examples include Engineering, Development, and Design.

  2. If the company is small, try contacting someone at the top of the company hierarchy such as the founder. For a medium-sized company (approximately 150 people), contact someone lower in the hierarchical structure like a VP. For large companies (400 or more), contact someone at the management level. Look for managers or team leads.

Finding Potential Contacts

LinkedIn: Search the company on LinkedIn and find their company page. In the menu items to the left, click on People. You can then search employees at the company based on title or name. Work emails tend to follow the same pattern throughout the same company and can be easy to guess if you know a name. Hunter is a Chrome extension that helps with the guesswork. To use it, go to a company website and click on the hunter icon in the browser. If an email is listed on the website, hunter will display it. If you supply Hunter a name, it will provide a best guess answer for that person's email.

Writing a Cold Email

We covered several reasons why you might reach out to someone in a company. Here are some points to remember for all situations:

  1. Be polite and humble. Thank the person for their time when applicable.

  2. Write a detailed subject line. This is the first thing anyone will read.

  3. Be concise. This is not the place to copy/paste details from a cover letter or resume. Get to the point of why you are reaching out and what you're looking for.

  4. Be specific in the body of your email. An email you send out should be identifiable to a company or person. Check out the previous lesson for an example of a specific email compared to a generic email.

  5. When discussing your coding skills and past experiences, use positive wording. As a junior developer, you have learned a lot of new coding skills over a very short period of time. Graduating from Epicodus demonstrates that you are a quick learner capable of facing new coding challenges.

  6. Include your signature: your name, a link to your LinkedIn profile and GitHub portfolio, and your phone number. Check your phone's voicemail to make sure the inbox is not full.