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jordym84's avatar

What to say in a "cold call" email?

Asked by jordym84 (4742 points ) February 19th, 2013

I’ve been with my company as a full-time employee since December and, prior to my current status, I had done two internships with them while still in college. I absolutely adore my current role; however, it’s only a stepping stone towards my greater goals with the company.

Every August they recruit internally for one of their international business segments and this year I intend to apply. I know I have the necessary qualifications and have a leg up on most applicants as I am fluent in five languages (naturally, they tend to favor multilingual applicants). However, I want to know how to make myself more competitive and what I need to do to prepare for the application process and several rounds of interview. I searched the company’s roster for people who currently hold the position for which I will be applying and I want to send them an email asking for some insider advice on how to increase my chances of being chosen.

My main questions in regards to this are:
1) Is this professionally appropriate?
2) If so, how should I word my message? (I’m a bit clueless in this matter as I’ve never had to send a “cold call” email before).

Thank you in advance, your help is greatly appreciated! I look forward to seeing what you can help me come up with.

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Basically, you tell them what you said here. That you are looking for insider information from their perspective on what is most important for obtaining a position similar to theirs.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I don’t think it’s appropriate without an introduction from someone you both know or your superior who can introduce you.

“My boss, Elvis Presley, recommended that I contact you for information regarding the open position Im applying for…...”

picante's avatar

I was hiring a position a few years ago, and one of the applicants, unbeknownst to me, reached out to the person who held the position (the e-mail address was obtained from our “contact us” link on our website). This could have been catastrophic . . . at least all parties knew that the position was being replaced. The applicant even set a lunch date with the person.

I was very off-put by this event. I actually wound up hiring this particular candidate (and firing her for other reasons a few weeks later).

All that said, it sounds like this environment might be more forgiving of the inquiries, but I’d certainly get some clearance and support from above, as KNOWITALL advises.

burntbonez's avatar

Since when is it a bad idea to talk to someone about their job and what they like about it and what they think makes them good at it? People do this all the time. I would have no problem emailing them telling them I was thinking of applying for the position in the next round and would like to take them out for lunch so you could talk about what it was like. Advantages, things you should know, how they prepared, etc.

Short and sweet. Follow it up with a phone call proposing a date for lunch. It’s part of doing due diligence.

Employers might not like it, I suppose, because they tend to be controlling and don’t like employees to share information, but that’s bullshit. Employers are better off when candidates know more, too. It also shows you are really interested and take initiative. I think only one in ten employers would be put off by it. And you wouldn’t want to work for them, anyway. Or I wouldn’t, anyway.

KNOWITALL's avatar

How about a happy medium where you contact the position-holder via a social network? That format is informal and you don’t have to adhere to normal corporate procedures.

CWOTUS's avatar

I would be entirely in favor of @marinelife‘s suggestion: be perfectly frank about why you’re sending the mail. That is, don’t attempt to strike up a friendship or solicit help in one area and have completely different designs. Although that might “work”, you’d be marked as (and soon feel like) a two-faced sleazebag.

I think @KNOWITALL‘s suggestion to request an introduction is a nice-to-have, but it may not be possible in all cases. I wouldn’t let the lack of an introduction be a show-stopper.

I would definitely bear in mind @picante‘s caveat that you be certain that the person in that position isn’t surprised by any news that you may have.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to copy your boss on these messages, so that the recipients have some awareness that this isn’t something being cooked up just between you and that person. Having your boss’ name on the email (or other form of contact) gives them a place (other than you) to ask questions about you and about the entire process.

Good luck.

jordym84's avatar

Thanks for the feedback so far.

After reading your replies, I think I should clarify a few things:
– This is a seasonal position and everyone involved knows that their contract is for eight months. There’s the possibility of doing more seasonal contracts, but that is on an individual, on-going basis.
– I work for a very large company and it is close to impossible to get an introduction, especially because this particular segment is headquartered in the west coast and I work on the east coast, and the people currently holding the position I’m interested in live overseas for the job.
– Although we all work for the same company, we have different managers/bosses and they wouldn’t get offended if we were to contact our colleagues as it is the nature of the company for people to move around and upwards.
– I myself don’t find reaching out over social media to be appropriate (I find it somewhat an invasion of their privacy because it’s supposed to be separate from their work lives – at least for me it is), so that’s not an option.

Thanks again for the replies!! :)

wundayatta's avatar

Sounds like a direct connection, simple, straightforward, is entirely appropriate.

rojo's avatar

In my case, it would not really matter how you did it because if I didn’t request it, it goes directly into the trash. The second time it goes in Junk and gets blocked.

jaytkay's avatar

Do not send a cold call email.

Phone first, and ask if you can send an email.

Engage that person on the phone. Chat if they are open to it. Get off the phone if they are impatient.

Ask for the correct email address, even if you know it (so they are somewhat committed to reading your note).

I have years of experience with this, and if we send a letter or email NOBODY answers. But if we call first, and ask permission to send an email, we sign up a lot of clients.

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s not the cold call you were thinking about, @jaytkay. No sales involved, and it’s all in-company.

jaytkay's avatar

@CWOTUS The advice applies to ALL communication.

A phone conversation is immensely better than an unexpected email.

CWOTUS's avatar

Hmm. I wouldn’t say that’s universal. I dodge more phone calls than emails.

jordym84's avatar

I’m not asking them for a job as they have no say in the hiring process and, even if they did, I still wouldn’t message them asking for a job. I simply want to reach out to people who’ve been in my position in hopes of finding out what they did to set themselves apart from the other candidates and how I can prepare myself for the recruiting process in order to increase my chances of being offered a position. Is that really so bad? Speaking for myself I know I would be more than happy to help out a colleague who’s interested in following the same career path as me, especially if they were just starting out in their career as I am right now. I don’t understand the formality of it all and why some people are making it out to be such a bad thing. Again, I’m not asking for a job, just for some insight.

@CWOTUS I, too, am more likely to reply to an email than to a phone call. Besides, email allows the recipient to reply at his/her own leisure whereas a phone call is more intrusive, in my opinion. And thank you for understanding what I was actually asking! ;)

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